The Slap, a totally fresh video by filmmaker Max Landis, is a clever response to the famous First Kiss video that went viral three months ago and has been making all of us go awwww up until now. Landis’ video features 40 randomly paired people in a fairly uncomfortable situation – the goal for them was to slap each other in the face. Even if it’s the first time they had met.
According to the author, none of the participants were pressured to do so and all of them were “hit as hard as THEY asked to be hit”. The beauty of this project lies in the contrast between a somewhat violent action of hitting other person and the intimate feeling the participants develop towards each other.
Though Landis really was aiming to mock the famous First Kiss video (which is obvious from the black and white color palette and similar upbeat music), he did go beyond just that. His explanation video called Point Of Impact explains the reasons for him to make “The Slap” in the first place.
“What is violence? It’s really just a label, isn’t it, if you let your mind go to a dark place. I decided to define violence as “non-consensual physical interference;” <…> What is trust? Do you trust someone not to hurt you? Are you even thinking about it? Do you care if they hurt you if you trust them? <…> The theory was: A slap, robbed of its violating context, is more intimate than a kiss. My theory, as it turned out, was right.”
Btw, did you notice the cherry on top? At 1:48, there’s Haley Joel Osment (yup, the kid from The Sixth Sense) being slapped straight into his lush beard.
Personal space, something that’s cherished in the United States, is put to the test in Brooklyn-based artist George Ferrandi’s series, I Felt Like I Knew You. This site-specific performance features Ferrandi on the crowded New York City subway. In her words, she transforms the space between two people from being stiff and guarded to something that resembles a space friends would share. Essentially, she sits in a packed subway car, rests her head on a stranger’s shoulders, and documents what happens through iPhone videos shot by Angela Gilland.
Not surprisingly, not everyone is receptive to Ferrandi’s invasion of their “personal bubble.” Some people wake her up or passive aggressively move their shoulder. Some, however, just let her rest. In an interview with Katherine Brooks of the Huffington Post, Ferrandi was asked if she learned anything from the project. Her response:
For me, this piece taps into the mystery and fragility of how we relate and communicate to each other as human animals, full of signs secret even to ourselves. It’s given me a deeper understanding of the way New Yorkers evolve to maintain their privacy in public spaces. We carry our energy so closely. We’re often pressed up against each other on the train with a kind of “I wish I wasn’t touching you” energy that is invisible but respected. This is part of why so many people are touched by a photo of one man resting his head on the shoulder of another; it challenges a preconception about tenderness between strangers, especially in New York. And it offers a tiny counterpoint to the Culture of Fear being cultivated in America.
All images are stills from iPhone videos. They make you ponder how you would act if Ferrandi put her head on your shoulder. Would you engage her or move your shoulder? (Via Huffington Post)
What may be most affecting about Richard Renaldi‘s series Touching Strangers is how clearly he captures something that can’t even be seen. For the series Renaldi posed strangers together to be photographed in poses with an intimacy typically reserved for families or friends. Arms around shoulders and waists, hands on hands, fingers interlocked are subtle gestures. Between strangers, though, they reveal a powerful privacy we carry around with us, a sacred space rarely breached. Once a viewer discovers the subjects are strangers, these otherwise banal photographs suddenly become intensely unsettling.