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 19 Going Incognito We all secretly wonder what mischief we’d make if invisible: When our identity is hidden, everything seems possible. Arts & Culture Issue 19 The Best Policy Sometimes we talk to each other without feeling heard. Honesty—a most intimate interaction—can be just as thrilling as its more devious inverse. Arts & Culture Issue 19 A Sense of Suspense With unhinged imaginations and mountains of cliff-hangers, the filmmakers behind the sci-fi podcast Limetown have all the makings of a scary story. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Like Clockwork In this new column about time, we learn how slipping off our watches makes us feel like deadline-damning renegades. Arts & Culture Music Issue 19 On a Grander Scale Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna now may live on the opposite side of the globe, but she’s determined to evolve while staying true to her roots. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Neighborhood: Fire Stations The firefighting profession has evolved over time from Ancient Rome’s rudimentary bucket brigades to today’s sleek life-saving departments.