People provide me with endless inspiration. Our motivations, beliefs, opinions and perspectives are infinite. For every layer peeled away, there is always another below it.
I am interested in the human connection created when looking into someone’s eyes. Why is it that it’s difficult to look directly into someone’s eyes and lie? Why do I divert my gaze if I’m not feeling confident? And why is it more intense to look directly into someone’s eyes and say, “I love you?”
With Open Eyes is a series in progress. I began by taking close up photographs of various friends’ eyes. By overexposing the photos, the lines of their face, the shape of the mouth, and other facial cues disappeared. In studying the the images, I found that the naked eyes revealed a sense of intensity, mystery and character. They say that eyes are “windows to the soul.” As I went deeper into my experiment, I found that science actually supported my intuitive sense.
Scientific findings show that we are biologically drawn to eyes when looking at someone because they are the most contrasted points on our face. We actually have a section in our brain which is dedicated solely to eye recognition. The reason is to assess danger, as in “are you about to kill me? or, “Are we ok?” And for connection. Babies’ eyes aren’t fully developed, and the contrast gives them a focal point. So we are biologically wired to connect to each others’ eyes.
Further studies of the iris show that densely packed crypts are more warmhearted, tender and trusting, while contracted crypts are more neurotic and impulsive and therefore unpredictable. The genes responsible for the iris also play a part in the frontal lobe which influences personality. This literally means that we can see a lot about someone by looking into their eyes.
So as I continued to work, I wanted to isolate and focus on that connection. I took a series of photographs of each subject and used a simulated multiple exposure process to meld them together. This gave me different expressions through a series of moments to better encapsulate the overall sense of each person. I then reintroduced elements of each person’s personality in the abstract. I drew expressive shapes on wood panels, and cut them out by hand. I then added paint and additional multiple exposure photographs to reflect each person’s essence while keeping the focus on the eyes and our innate wiring for connection.