Updated: Sep 1, 2020
“At times she had thought that this was the only kind of connection you could have with people—intense, inexplicable and ultimately incomplete.”
'Outside the Window' was an expanded storytelling session directed by Julia Mahrer. We were asked to observe and explore the London tube station to create a storyline.
I made my way down to the Underground. The Underground shuttles over a million passengers each year below its crowded streets. As a graphic designer, you might assume I would be drawn to the distinctive signages, colour-coded maps or the typefaces. Well, you are wrong, I was immediately drawn to this need to observe people, maybe I am just using this opportunity to shamelessly stalk people.
Kinesic Konnection was as a story that emerged while observing hand gestures of the passengers in the tube. I started documenting the gestures using my handphone camera, my expectation was mostly a bunch of videos of people either using their phone, reading a book or eating. To my surprise, I was able to recognise and capture a lot of emotions through their physical gestures, whether it is a girl who was furiously biting her nails or clenching fists. I started wondering whether the hand gestures will allow me to guess who they are going to meet or how their day was. Is she biting her nail because she is nervous that she is going for a job interview or maybe she is going to meet her partner to talk about their incompatible relationship?
After observing these gestures for a while, I had this urge to push myself into the narrative. I decided to ask individuals whether they can hold my hands for a few seconds. The reactions were a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. Most of them said 'yes' followed by 'why'. I explained myself after, one girl decided to observe others with me and asked me whether anyone rejected my request yet. Which lead me to screen for a person I was sure whose body language showcased that he is reserved, he had his hands tied, he looked very uncomfortable and impatient. I went and sat next to him and I asked him whether he can hold my hand and like I thought he immediately said 'No'. It was interesting how by pure observation of his gesture I was able to guess what the result of my action would be.
My final plan of action was to ask a group of 6,7 people to hold their hands together for a while, however, I couldn't bring myself to do it at that moment, which prevented me from capturing the final scene. Hopefully one day I will push myself to capture that moment.
Update after COVID 19 :
While being under isolation due to COVID 19, I am looking back at this project. I couldn't stop myself from thinking how horrifying would it be for people if I conducted the same experiment now. How a simple gesture of measuring love, sympathy and unity, now can be seen as insensitive, ignorant and destructive to others health. Which brings me to wonder how malleable is our act of showcasing connection with others. For years, touch was seen as an integral part of our everyday life, to make meaningful connections with the people around us. What will happen to our relationship with touch and physical intimacy after this prolonged period of isolation? Would we crave it more or would we be repulsed by it?