Mind The Gap
Intergenerational Connectivity Between Seniors and Youth
Dawn Matheson’s Project
The Looking and The Listening
I have always been someone who stares, impartially, ever since I was little. I found out fast that this behaviour can make people uncomfortable, so I learned to look away or stare secretly when people weren’t looking.
Yet, something enchanting can happen when a gaze is met with good intentions, care and reciprocity.
I wanted to investigate whether or not genuine connection can be cultivated in a very short period of time over Zoom with pairs who had not yet met, knew little to nothing about each other and experienced quite a generation gap.
I requested the pairs sit in silence and stare into each other’s eyes (digital eyes) for two-minutes sessions, three times throughout an hour-and-a-half zoom together.
(24 min., edited footage, looped/ plus 36 questions accessed through QR codes)
The second request involved the other sense available through digital encounters: listening.
Here, I decided to employ “The 36 Questions,” a series of questions developed by social psychologist Arthur Aron in the 1990s supposedly guaranteed to generate closeness, even romantic love, between two strangers.(“The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness” (1997)).
I thought it would be interesting to see how these questions worked in the very distanced digital setting of zoom where the goal was not to produce romantic love, but a genuine, reciprocal intergenerational connection.
Questions were delivered one at a time in the Zoom chat to be read aloud — any could go unanswered, for it is always the decision of the participant to choose what to share, not that of the artist. Each respondent was asked to close their eyes when answering and to answer as honestly as they could.