Eye contact, to many, signals interest and trust. Doctors are taught to look patients in the eye, job interviewers favor those who meet their gaze, and even babies prefer direct, rather than oblique, stares. That our pupils dilate when we find someone attractive—a change that is mirrored if the feeling is mutual—is something we’ve known for a long time. In Renaissance Italy, women would go to the lengths of inducing dilation with belladonna extract, unaware it could cause blindness. Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović considers eye contact a powerful mode of communication. In 2010, at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Abramović spent 700 hours sitting in silence as nearly 1, 400 people sat across from her and met her gaze. “There’s nothing happening. There’s no plot, no crescendo… There’s no beginning or end, ” she said in a 2017 interview. “There’s just you and me. It’s about eyes and gaze. This is true communication…” This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Eight Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 45 How to become a Fossil A short guide to self-preservation. Arts & Culture Issue 34 Unbreak the Internet A guide to being good online. Arts & Culture Partnerships Issue 32 Ahead of the Pack A playful guide to making your carry-on less of a carry on. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Alice Sheppard On dance as a channel to commune with the body—even when it hurts. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Dr. Woo Meet the tattoo artist who's inked LA. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Walt Odets The author and clinical psychologist on why self-acceptance is the key to a gay man's well-being.