The Dream In Which I Invented A New Synthesis UI With The Aid Of Teri Garr and Robert Vaughn

By my standards, this was a pretty ordinary dream. The only thing that makes it stand out is the synthesis part. Well, and my co-inventers but they aren’t really real in the way that an idea can be real although it was dreamt.

Teri Garr is still alive so it’s possible she could have been in my dream through some kind of telepathic link but Robert Vaughn passed away in 2016. While I’ll maybe stretch to telepathy with living people, communicating with the spirit realm is a stretch for a good old fashioned dialectical materialist like me.

In the dream, Vaughn was Napoleon Solo-aged and Garr was pretty much as she appears in the Star Trek episode ‘Assignment Earth.’ But they weren’t their characters, they were just themselves, chatting as actors do about various acting gigs, the perils of local theatre and who was a Method bore.

I was entranced just to be in the same room with them. Thinking back, the room was very TOS-like; grey walls, weird polygonal desk for no reason, the mise-en-scene was very Trek. 

On the table in front of us is a tray. It’s about one metre by seventy-five cm. The edge is lipped to contain what appears to be thousands of gems. When I pick one up, it’s about the shape and size of a Pez but with straight sides at the ends, a point instead of a curve. One face is shiny, silver, metallic. The other is a translucent gemstone. There are various colours of gem and, I now notice, various colours on the tray. Between the zones, there are no hard lines, rather gradations and sometimes subtle stripings of colour.

Garr urges me to move some of the VCO gems around. Then I realise that one of the green piles of gems was the same colour as its base which is labelled ‘VCO 1’. Being a East Coast synthesis sort, I grab a handful of gems and plonk them in an area marked ‘LFO 1.’ Then I touch a the lip of the tray which, somehow, I know is the equivalent of pressing a key on a normal synth. 

Woah! Vibrato! But not much… hmmmm… I take some more VCO gems and plonk them in the LFO area. More depth! AHA! But how the hell do I change the frequency of the LFO or the waveform? I notice that both the LFO and VCO areas have waveforms inscribed in certain areas, sawtooth, square, squiggly. I move some of the LFO gems into the sawtooth area… ahhhh… the vibrato changes to a more squarey stridulation. I’m getting well into this – what else can I heap and where?

It’s at this point of the dream that I’m basically pushing gems all over the place, swirling them with my finger and delighting in what comes out. I’ve gone full West Coast now, NO RAGRETS.

And then… seriously… the synth makes the Emergency Phone noise from The Man From UNCLE. Yes, my brain did this to me.

So, I turn to Robert Vaughn and say, “Hey, it’s that sound from the Man From… oh my god… it’s you! You’re Napoleon Solo!” He looks a little embarrassed and Teri giggles. 

It’s then that my stupid brain makes me realise I am, in fact, naked in a thin dressing gown and my knackers are on full view of these two fantastic actors. Soooo, inevitably, I wake out of my beautiful synthesis dream. 

But what do you think of the interface, eh? It’s doable, isn’t it? We could do it now, virtually, in something like Microsoft’s Hololens. And I’m pretty sure we could do it in real life. If every gem contained an RFID and the table was continuously scanning for their position. I would even add in variables like height-from-table or heat? Anything to give more ways to control the variables. If you weighted them differently, you could sort them quite simply, too, just pour the tray into a sorter. 

Please, someone, make my synth dream come true!