Hyderabad: Eyes, they say, are the windows to the soul.
More eloquent than any word can be, the eye, or rather, eye contact, also plays a crucial role in human communication. However, most people do not make eye contact while talking, and when they do, it’s barely for a few seconds.
Now, in an attempt to change the way people communicate, to put some soul into communications, Hyderabad-based ArtLife Events is hosting the Eye Contact Experiment India.
The second session of what could be the only one event of its kind in the country was held on Sunday at the Phoenix Arena. A brainchild of Tarusha Saxena, Eye Contact Experiment India encourages people to look into each others’ eyes, without speaking a word, for seven minutes continuously.
“I always try to establish eye contact when I am speaking to people,” shares Tarusha. “It creates a connection. Even if you do not know the person, you still are able to relate to them.”
During the session, two participants sit opposite each other and stare into each other’s eyes for seven minutes. “We take a break after seven minutes, and continue with another participant for another seven minutes. However, if the participants wish, they can stick to just one partner,” she explains.
Although Tarusha was toying with the idea of the Eye Contact Experiment for long, she wasn’t confident about how people would respond to it.
“Such kind of activity is almost unheard of. So, I wasn’t too confident about its success. For the first session, I was not expecting more than five to six people but ten participants showed up. Today, 15 people participated in the second session,” says Tarusha, who is also a theatre actor.
The effect of the session on participants was incredible. Many of them were able to feel a connection with the other person, and some were even left overwhelmed by the end of the session. Nippu Nagaraj, a 29-year-old graphic designer, shares that he was able to see himself in the other person’s eyes. “When you can’t use the word and only look at the other person, what you see is yourself. You feel naked — all your emotions, fears and insecurities, slowly try to show. The best part is you do not have to control anything, just emotions flow,” he says.
While some were overwhelmed, others experienced relief. Raj Kumar Chhabra, an elderly man who attended the event, says, “It was very liberating. I could experience the barriers that I had built around myself breaking down.”
After two successful sessions, Eye Contact Experiment India, will host a third session on February 14, at the Sacred Earth Cafe, Madhapur.
How it all started:
The experiment was inspired by the work of Marina Abramovic, a Serbian conceptual and performance artist, philanthropist, writer, and filmmaker, who hosted an eye gazing event at the New York Museum of Modern Art called The Artist Is Present, in 2010.
Marina sat in a chair for a total of 736.5 hours, inviting each member of the public, one by one, to sit in front of her and look into her eyes for a few minutes. Taking cues from her, similar events have been organised in Australia, US and Japan.