An excerpt from documentation of a performance event in Bethnal Green Library during Five Years Gallery exhibition 'Lecture Hall. Free School'.
The original proposal describes the performance:
Rob and Chris are seated in the lecture hall, some distance apart. The air is filled with a variety of scents from approximately twenty plug-in air-fresheners, powered by several multi-block 240v plug extension sockets, visible on the floor.
Chris watches a silent moving image on a tv/video screen not visible to the audience, while Rob hears only its soundtrack. Both speak into microphones, their voices slightly amplified into two separate speakers, on either side of the room. They are describing what they see and hear of the film. Each describes their experience, as it happens.
The film whose image and soundtrack are being separately watched and heard (and concurrently described) is 'The Miracle Worker' (dir. Arthur Penn, 1962) a film concerning the life of the deaf/blind socialist Helen Keller, whose teacher Anne Sullivan used a variety of sensory techniques to reach through her disabilities, helping her to become a highly literate scholar, social campaigner and, ultimately, Swedenborgian mystic. The audience, able to hear these spoken descriptions of both soundtrack and image, are free to assemble in their own imagination the narrative of the film, while immersed in an entirely distinct olfactory sense-experience from the synthetic air-fresheners.
The duration of the film, including credits, and other titles is around 1hr40min.
Neither artist has previously seen the film 'The Miracle Worker', although both are aware of some details of the life of Helen Keller.
Experience itself is never second-hand.
"...all I have to teach you is one word - everything." - Anne Bancroft, as Anne Sullivan in 'The Miracle Worker'.
Helen Keller's FBI records are available here: marxists.org/reference/archive/keller-helen/bio/fbi-file.pdf