April 8, 2021

What Can A Stare – From A Stranger Or A Friend – Evoke In Us?

Sonia Killmann

Mp4 VideoThem! There! Eyes?, 2021

Many people will have experienced a stare from a stranger or a friendly look from a friend that lasted a little longer than intended. These prologued moments of eye contact can release emotions within us and make us feel comfortable or uncomfortable, depending on the environment, the person or the circumstance. Often we will stare at our phones on the subway or bus, in order to avoid eye contact. Why does a strangers stare affect us in this way? Some might be scared of a stranger approaching them, or feel self conscious when being looked at. Especially women and marginalised people experience this type of discomfort in public spaces. A strangers stare can seem threatening at times, even if this is not intended. However, if a friend or a lover looks at us for long, we might feel more positive emotions towards them and trust them more. The piece Them? There? Eyes! deals with the concept of eye contact as a powerful feature in creating emotional bonds and how this might impact different people, using samples from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Ella Fitzgerald’s Them There Eyes.