Last Friday, I had the chance to conduct an experimental collaborative writing project with the Norman community at 2nd Friday Art Walk. Thanks to artist Skip Hill for letting me use his studio space. Throughout the evening, participants–ranging from a 7-year old girl to an elderly gentleman, sat with me and made eye contact for one silent minute. We each wrote down anything that came to mind and shared our writings. We painted textual portraits of each other through visual observation.

What resulted was an intriguing form of communication. The observations were everything from physical description to cognitive insight. When we shared our texts, I found that we discovered things about each other that one wouldn’t think could be transmitted by looking at someone’s face. For me, there were even elements of mind-reading and psychic moments.

For one man, I wrote “father” because his stoicism made me feel comforted and protected in a way. Interestingly, he wrote “daughter”; though eye contact, we mutually felt and identified an emotional bond in one minute of silence.

One woman wrote “stubborn”. A characteristic I know I have. Do I emit this with my facial expressions???

Another woman wrote “calm” and “uncomfortable”–two words that seem contradictory, showing a fluctuation of the experience’s ambiance. During these minutes, all the laughter and energy in the room fell away and we entered a quiet cloud of connection.

Thanks to the art community for providing space and time for my experiments.