Michael McHugh & Noizechoir


The Dream of the Dream Scientist is an oblique sound-portrait of The Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research, one of only three purposely built academic facilities dedicated to the research of sleep in the UK.  It is an unusual space – part hotel, part science lab.

Much is known about the effects of sleep deprivation on an individual but little is known about why we sleep. As such the Centre dedicates itself to three main areas of study:

  • The treatment of sleep disorders caused by a variety of medical problems.
  • Sensory gating: an area of research that looks at what happens as people transition between the different stages of sleep and how our sleep is affected by environmental conditions.
  • Dreaming: what happens, physiologically, when we dream? How do dreams affect our bodies when we enter different stages of sleep?

Biomedical data of participants is recorded through sensors and electrodes attached to their body. These record the brain waves, eye movements, body movements, temperature and heart rate of the participant as they enter and exit the varying stages of sleep.  This broadcast asks ‘What does the Dream of the Dream scientist sound like?’

Professor Jason Ellis, Director of the Sleep Research Centre, having never undergone these tests personally offered to undergo a night of sleep recording to see how his body would respond. Taking the listener through what it means to be asleep and discussing what is happening to our bodies when we dream, biomedical data captured during the study form the basis of a series of choral pieces performed and recorded by the Noizechoir to create graphical scores. The basis of the 60 minute broadcast will consist of choral pieces performed and recorded by the Noizechoir. Interviews and audio recordings of Jason’s experience create a sound portrait of the sleep centre, exploring its aural landscape, its culture and the science that underpins it.