Saturday, January 24, 2009

Frame Of Reference: How Kissing Strange Came To Be (J's Account)

As it was a few days ago in the city with Alexis - and as it is now - caffeine is taking away the dull sting in my head after a long night. It is those moments of clarity between unconsciousness and waking, sobriety and sloppiness, where this project was born. I have known Alexis for years and this co-authored project is a long time coming.

Kissing Strange, not even in its infancy, started as a drunken text message exchange on NYE, one where we promised to inspire one another more in 2009 and, weeks later, as the haze of an amazing night was lifted, we suddenly realized that this was the project that we were meant to do. Our disparate geographical locations - she in liberal New York, me in quasi-conservative North Carolina - is perhaps the most interesting and challenging aspects of this project. While the backdrops of our photos may be instantly recognizable, my expectation is that the subjects will be universal, from complete willingness to do something for art's sake to curiosity paired with awkward reluctance, and all things in between. The fact that we are different sexes will also likely impact the project; will people be more willing to pose for Alexis because she is female or because she is in Manhattan? 

Our educational backgrounds are also key to this project with Alexis leaning heavily to the artistic endeavors and me having been a scientist most of my life. My scientific training is in understanding animal behavior, and so I am partially viewing this project as a means to understand the kiss as one of most important features of human behavior. We know how connected we feel when we kiss someone, when a child falls we kiss it better, when our lover leaves we kiss them goodbye, when two people are married they kiss; there are countless examples of how the kiss connects us when there is already a level of familiarity. 

We are stripping that familiarity away and taking a reductionist approach to the human condition: can a kiss connect two strangers?


Because we're all family

1 comment:

  1. Hey Dr. J, killer idea! Bet you'll capture some amazing images. I can't believe I'd never heard of the touching strangers set, I was just looking at them and was loving the different interactions of people how you could feel their emotions through the image...awesomeness. Way to kick it to the next level!

    (oh, this is Derek, the blue-haired photog from Dain's!)