Sean Voisen

The Uncanny Dream Machine

The Uncanny Dream Machine is an exploration in computer-generated dreamlike narrative. An artificial intelligence (AI) system conceived as a project of “expressive AI,” The Uncanny Dream Machine uses various databases and natural language processing algorithms to “re-mix” a collection of dream transcripts into novel dream narratives in real-time. Embodied as a 1940′s-era wooden Philco radio, viewers listen to the machine as it reads its dreams over the airwaves. Knobs on the radio allow viewers to “tune in” to streams of consciousness delineated by various emotions — fear, anger, curiosity, joy, anxiety, worry, etc. — provoking conversations about the nature of emotion and consciousness in an otherwise unemotional, unconscious, and disembodied machine.

This project was part of my master’s thesis research at the University of California, Irvine. You may read the thesis in its entirety if you like.



The following is collection of sample dreams, chosen at random. The Uncanny Dream Machine generates dreams characterized by any one of eight emotional tenors: anger, anxiety, embarrassment, fear, frustration, worry, joy and curiosity.





Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3