Darkness visible

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The Independent Culture
Darkness visible

The blind quite literally lead the blind at the South Bank's new installation Dialogue in the Dark. Devised by German Andreas Heinecke as a training programme to examine issues of visual awareness, it's hoped that sighted people will come to understand something of the difficulties faced by Britain's one million blind and visually impaired people as they experience, at first-hand, life immersed in total darkness. Led only by the voice of a partially-sighted guide, visitors enter a sound-proofed arena where simulations of four everyday environments provide the setting for an extraordinary sensory journey. Deprived of sight, guests are forced to rely on their heightened sense of smell, taste, touch and hearing as they negotiate the various components of this non-visual world: a tranquil park complete with trickling fountain and fragrant herbs; a bustling street with textured paving underfoot; a sitting room where an unseen television drones from one corner and a smoke-filled bar where it might be possible, we'd imagine, to get blind drunk.

`BT Dialogue in the Dark', 4 May-18 June, outside the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank centre, SE1 (0171-928 8800)