‘An hour in total darkness that helps us appreciate different forms of awareness’

Aricle by Sarah Birch for Hackney Citizen

I feel my way into the park, clocking with my hands a fence, a bench, a railing, bushes and trees (which are big and rough).
The process is slow, halting, and daunting, for this is the first time I have been blind to open space around me.
At first I am definitely out of my comfort zone, but by the end of an hour in total darkness, I am beginning to appreciate the many different forms of awareness. The cane helps, sounds orient me, but most important is the voice of my guide Mary, as she patiently leads me through what would otherwise be an obstacle course.
I am at Dialogue in the Dark, an immersive exhibition that enables sighted people to experience what it is to live with a visual impairment.
The project, which was developed in Germany in 1988, has been mounted in 45 countries across the world.

Now Muse Projects have created in a Hackney art gallery a simulacrum of Victoria Park, complete with bridge, cafe and bus shelter.
During my time there I manage – clumsily – to ride a bus, shop for fruit and veg, buy tea and biscuits, and have a fascinating conversation about what it is like to live in London with low vision.
Project director Huseyin Kemal Gunduzler was profoundly affected by Dialogue in the Dark when he encountered it in Istanbul last year.
“I questioned a lot of things”, he says. This experience led him to find out more about visual impairment, and he was amazed to hear stories of blind people bungee jumping, skydiving, and engaging in other activities that even many of the sighted shy away from.
On reflection, it is obvious that people of all different sorts should enjoy these activities, and no reason to think that sensory disability should be an insuperable obstacle.

Read the entire article over on Hackney Citizen.


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a sensory exhibition set in total darkness