A month ago, I was browsing the Internet and saw a video shot in Canada.
The concept was to ask people who didn’t know each other, to stare into each other’s eyes for 1 minute.
“When eye contact between two people is initiated and maintained, an invisible energetic circuit is established between the two participants, dissolving the barriers that ordinarily separate them from each other, drawing them ever closer into a shared awareness of union.” ~ Will Johnson
Absolutely in love with the concept, I really wanted to try the experiment in Paris, which is said to be one of the places where people are the least friendly and receptive.
The video was shot at La Défense, the business district of Paris. La Défense seemed like the obvious choice. Having worked there for two years, I witnessed first hand the complete dehumanization of the place. Thousands of people cross paths everyday, often running to get to work or too busy talking on their cell phones.
So, what better place to ask people to connect, right ?
At first we were a bit shy. A bit scared of people telling us to “f**k off” or just a simple “no.” We got a few of those but we also met really cool people who were eager to participate.
A big thank you to the strangers who accepted to participate. We witnessed many smiles, a lot of uncomfortable laughs, a few conversations and some shyness.
A couple of things were eye opening.
It was really interesting for us to get out of our comfort zone.
Interesting (and also saddening in a sense) to realize how disconnected we can be from one another. We really felt uncomfortable going up to people at first. We were probably embarrassed, afraid of rejection and judgement.
We got a couple of “no’s” from people. Generally the reasons were lack of time or not wanting to be on camera. Which is absolutely fine.
It was exhilarating when people said yes and participated. Once we were done filming, our energy had changed.
After a couple of minutes, our camera operator, who was shy at first, started going up to people asking them to participate—that subtle transformation was beautiful to witness.
In the end, we realized there are no barriers between any of us, except the ones we create. We met different people and that was great!
This project doesn’t change reality but for a minute we all experienced a different approach to life, something new, and that in itself is inspiring.
Here are some reactions our participants shared with us when we asked “How was it?”
“Looking just at the eyes is disturbing, you feel like looking somewhere else…it’s a rare moment. It doesn’t happen often…It’s hard to stare at someone in the eye and not falter…”
“It was weird but I’m comfortable so it was fine…I’m portuguese so…”
“I felt a bit uncomfortable, it’s weird, I’m not used to doing this.”
“I don’t know…I didn’t mind it…but looking at someone in the eye for 1 minute is long.”
“We looked at each other but we didn’t really know what we were going to say. It’s better to talk, it happened naturally.”
“It’s strange…it seems that gradually with time I had already seen these eyes before, it’s not usual.”
“It’s a bit special. We look into someone’s eyes, we don’t know who they are so we can imagine a lot of things…Looking into a stranger’s eyes is particular… I can’t really find the words to describe the experience.”
“It was long…I tried to look on the side a little…A little uncomfortable”.
“It was interesting but it’s like I was ashamed to look into his eyes. I looked at his mouth, his nose, his eyes…”
“It made me laugh. You can’t stay serious. I couldn’t only stare into her eyes…but it didn’t bother me.”
“It was okay…after a little while my eyes were tired.”
“It’s hard to look someone in the eye. We don’t realize but we don’t actually look into people’s eyes that way.”
“It was something different”
“It was normal..nothing special..it was good”
To read more on eye gazing, please click here.
Author: Lilya Sabatier
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Screen Shot from “Eye Contact.”