Interactive Installation Sends Visitors Into The Dark At Dana Centre

By Katy Morris | 24 March 2004
Shows a thermal image of people visiting The Dark project. A number of white human shaped images can be seen against a pitch black background.

Photo: this thermal image shows what visitors to The Dark won't be able to see. © Dana Centre.

Katy Morris headed up to the big smoke to join the dark side for a day at the Dana Centre.

Darkness has descended on the Science Museum’s Dana Centre. The Dark, a unique experience that takes place in the dark, opened on March 25.

The installation gives visitors a chance to discover how sounds influence their imagination, as they explore an empty room with noises and voices from the past rising and falling in response to movement.

"In The Dark your eyes will be of no use to you – instead you will need to rely on your ears and your imagination to find your way through a maze of digital ghosts and to unlock the mysteries of their lives," says Terry Braun director of Braunarts, who produced The Dark.

The sounds that can be heard in The Dark are based on real people and events from the 18th century, a time when Britain dominated the seas and the slave trade created vast profits.

Characters include Edward Rushton, a sailor who was appalled at the treatment of the human cargo, but caught a disease that turned him blind by passing food and water to the slaves.

Shows a photograph of the door to the Dana Centre in London. The centre's logo can be seen above the glass double door, while the red brick walls of the centre can be seen either side of it.

Photo: the Science Museum's interactive science centre for adults, the Dana Centre opened in November 2003. © Dana Centre.

Other voices are an African man who saved Edward Rushton’s life and John Newton, a cold-hearted captain who saw the error of his ways during a thunderstorm.

The Dark can also be experienced on a 3D website using a standard computer with sound capabilities, which will be up and running in April.

"We are very interested in the new ways in which audiences can be engaged in art with new media," says Terry Braun.

"We have created a real world experience in a museum or gallery but also a 3D virtual space to explore on the internet."

The Dark was funded by Culture Online, an initiative by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to increase access to arts and culture.

The Dark will be at the Dana Centre from March 25 until May 4 and although admission is free, only a limited number of people can enter at any one time so tickets are required and can be booked by emailing or telephoning 020 7942 4040.

When it finishes at the Dana Centre, The Dark will travel to Thinktank in Birmingham where visitors will be able to experience it from September 1 until November 30.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned: