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Eye Contact: Perhaps Once Again A Thing

There is a great desire — or at least, it is in style to express a kind of great desire — among us right now to unplug, to recalibrate our social interactions, to roll back technology’s death grip on the way we now experience ordinary things. The forthcoming Free Streets Philly event is a part of this, as is any number of listicles and books on how to wean oneself away from the mighty pull of the touchscreen. But perhaps an event called Eye Contact Philly takes it to an even more granular level, where the entire focus of the project is for the participant merely to look another human being — literally any other human being — in the eye.

Now, eye contact in our times is a somewhat fraught thing even away from our addictions to smartphones. Any number of social anxieties and other diagnoses make eye contact difficult for some. And it’s true enough that for there are plenty of places on earth where eye contact is so loaded it incites violence. But when it can happen, where it can happen, I think we’re largely in agreement that it’s a good thing. So long as no one’s getting hurt. Based on an event that first occurred in 156 cities last year, Eye Contact Philly will do as the others, and mostly just create a place where you can be absolutely sure that if you look someone in the eye, they 100% won’t pop you in the jaw, nor will it be a staring contest. (There’s a time limit.) The rules:

What do you need to do?
Sit or stand across from one another and simply share 1 minute of eye contact :)
[…] What you need to bring on the day:
- Blankets or yoga mats
- Cushions, hoola hoops or chairs
- Signs saying "Where has the human connection gone? Share 1 minute to find out"
- Camera
- An open mind

Personally, I feel like the sign might be a dealbreaker, a light nudge off the cliff that divides the sane from everyone else, but like we say at home: Make your own gravy, honey. The event will take place on October 15th, at 10 in the morning on Rittenhouse Square.

Slideshow: Katherine Fraser’s “Believers” (Opening At Paradigm Gallery Sept. 23rd)

Slideshow: Katherine Fraser’s “Believers” (Opening At Paradigm Gallery Sept. 23rd)

Pour One Out, Won't You, For The Moat Around Fergie's Pub