Although it’s something we do everyday of our lives, initiating and maintain eye contact can be complex, challenging, exciting, and even distracting! With each encounter, there are social and cultural cues to process and interpret. And those cues can shift and change depending on context, timing and environment. Holding someone’s eye across a boardroom table can mean something entirely different than holding their eye across the room at a party. Yes, bold eye contact, or simply meeting someone’s gaze, sets off a series of brain processes.
When interacting with certain animals in the wild, human eye contact can be life-threatening. Or perhaps if it’s a more timid creature, eye contact will send it running.
However in art, we can establish and hold the subject’s eye for as long as we wish. No cues to read, no danger signs to look for, no time limit. And while we’re at it, we can write whatever story we wish about those eyes, and the face they belong to.