An Exhibition to Discover the Invisible
Concept by Andreas Heinecke
Only very few people truly understand blindness. Life without light, colours and shapes is something beyond our imagination since our strongest impressions are of a visual nature. Sight alone seems to guarantee access to the world, with flickering screens and rapid cuts all around us, while computer screens represent a visual age. Colours reign, and we think, speak and dream in pictures. We consider most beautiful that is seen, and if the retina doesn’t react, impressions remain dim and are difficult to integrate into what we so often refer to as our “world view”.
Blindness, however, doesn’t need to mean despair or even less happiness. The human mind compensates a lack of vision with another kind of “sight” whereby everyday life assumes a different quality – namely that of a non-visual nature. Suddenly, things are beautiful not only because they look beautiful. Non-visual characteristics are just as interesting and form the basis of our understanding and enjoyment. The surface of a cup, the structural properties of a footpath, the noises and smells in a cantina, the various ways we experience wind in a big city – all these become important and serve to enrich our perception. What a paradox – learning to “see” again by not seeing.
Out of a growing desire for more understanding, DIALOGUE IN THE DARK was born: An exhibition which tries to take as its starting point the ideas and non-visual perceptions of the blind in order to discover the unseen within and around us. DIALOGUE IN THE DARK is certainly not an ordinary exhibition. It is rather a platform for communication and a close exchange between different cultures, provoking a change in perspectives so we can experience the new without getting the feeling that we are merely being lectured to.The concept of DIALOGUE IN THE DARK has been shown in 17 countries throughout Europe, Asia and America. It has had over 2,000,000 visitors. Blind guides lead visitors through totally dark but scenically-designed spaces: A park scene, a busy street crossing, a gallery, living rooms and a bar. This exhibit can, in the form of a three-hour session, be integrated into management training courses for multi-national corporations or, as in the Speicherstadt Hamburg, be installed as five-year employment scheme. Here, too, many who are blind or have only partial sight can “open the visitor’s eyes” in the dark to show them that their world is not of less value – only different.