Dialog in the Dark

The Blind Man's Meal by Pablo Picasso

A while ago I went to Dialog in the Dark, a newish exhibit down at the South Street Seaport.  What a cool experience!

When you enter, they give you the type of cane that blind people use and they teach you how to use the cane.  Then they lower the lights until you are sitting in a pitch black room.  You can’t see anything.  A guide (who is visually impaired) then leads you on a tour of New York City as it is experienced by the blind.  You walk through what feels and sounds and smells like Central Park, then through a Fairway supermarket and then the subway (very scary going up and down stairs and approaching the edge of the platform) and finally, a diner.

I must admit to being absolutely petrified when the lights first went out.  I was thinking of aborting the experience but there was a woman in my group who was even more scaredy–cat than me and somehow, that made me braver.  Once we stood up and moved about, the terror abated and I loved the adventure. I was in a small group with three others, but our wonderfully calm and sweet guide said that the groups can be as large as ten people.  I think a large group would be more challenging because as it was, we kept hitting each other with our canes and bumping into each other repeatedly.  I am now more in awe of the visually impaired than ever, having a better understanding of what it must be like to negotiate the city without sight.

If you are considering visiting Dialog (it’s $18 for students) you might consider going at an “off” time to try to be in a smaller group.  You may bring children, but it could also be a really fun date, nudge-nudge-wink-wink.  I’m not sure how long Dialog in the Dark will be there, but its sister show (the unconscionable, tortured and executed prisoners’ Bodies) has been there for years.

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