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WE/ME in epedagogy design » Blog Archive » Dialog in the Dark


Dialog in the Dark

On Saturday night the whole group went to the Dialog in the Dark performance where, for ninety minutes or so, we walked through a series of environments which were all totally dark. We had sticks and we were accompanied by a blind gide who talked us through the environments and helped those who got lost of stuck.

Several things occurred to me as I walked around.

Fistly my eyes were conjuring up phantom images and were not “seeing” the uniform blackness that was objectively all there was. At one point when we were sitting in a simulated boat being blown by simulated wind and splashed by real water my perceptual apparatus was inventing a rocky shoreline that persisted. By persistence I mean that I could follow individual rocks as we moved past them, turn away, and then look back and see them again.

Secondly, my experience of the safety of the different environments varied for no external reason at all, except for the audible noises and the textures of the surfaces. At one point I realised that I was quite confidently walking around what we had been told was an empty room, whereas a few moments previously I had been shuffling along in case I tripped over any obstacles or steps that probably existed only in my imagination.

The final environment was a dark bar in which you were invited to purchase drinks and snacks: a process that involved finding your money, paying at least the right amount and then possibly getting change as well as the glass and the snacks. I had a beer and a peperoni thing ( a BIFI to be accurate, fact fans). Nobody spilled anything, or at least I heard no smashing glasses.

We had a discussion later about whether the barman was really blind and operating using only his other senses. This arose because he was so fast and so accurate, even when he was handed banknotes. Certainly he recognised my note as 5€ and gave me the correct change.

Eventually everyone agreed that no cheating had occurred, which was itself an insight (if I can use that word in this context) into operating sightlessly in the world.

 Update:  thanks to Christina for pointing out the correct spelling of Bifi which I didn’t know because I received and unwrapped my delicious pepperoni-style snack in complete darkness.

5 Responses to “Dialog in the Dark”

  1. Christina Says:

    Hey Owen,

    a little correction for the fact fans: the BEEFY is call BIFI here in Germany….



  2. International Seminar at appelt.net Says:

    […] One purpose of this meeting was to form new groups for the upcoming semester-project. Together with Owen and Alex and may be hopefully more people I will work on a wiki concerning ePedagogy. There had been taken been a lot of photos which can be found at flickr. The documentation of the seminar is available at the Me/We in ePedaogy Design Blog. Regarding to our trip to the Dialoge in the Dark and the included Boat-Trip and some requests of our guide “Please make a snake” I found this video. […]

  3. weytan Says:

    What I missed ‘In the Dark’ were the smells… take your time to go through a bigger city like Hamburg in late Summer/early Autumn, and *smell* your environment.
    Hamburg is very rich in smells, and they couldn’t – for obvious reasons – reproduce this in the rooms of the exhibition. Funny – I sometimes bumped into people and first tried to discern them by smell (probably less offensive than touching and feel for the fabric of their clothes), but was less sure of my ‘orientation’ than I thought I was (I was the one with the pepperminty smell and the corduroy-textured shirt…).

  4. weytan Says:

    Owen, we had a sponsor for our seminar who shipped two big boxes with Bifi to the MMS. Only too late for the seminar participants to taste them, on Monday… together with a giant crate full of (uurg…) instant pudding.
    Tragic. Really tragic, given Owen’s liking for the little spicy sausages…
    For the others still in Hamburg who share Owen’s inclination, look at the MMS-fridge and the project room cupboard.

  5. Alex Says:



    If you want to see their style…

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