Trace /

The calmness the image brings along is already a very nice welcoming to the space, an opportunity to breathe. It was at the same time a weird experience as the image was to me also creating a virtual reality atmosphere. So I was not sure I was in front of a virtual avatar or a real human being. The image for moments was getting pixelated so it amplified this feeling. Though, it was not creating a distance to the experience or to the calmness it was communicating. As when one looks in the eyes at somebody else for long minutes, the face starts reflecting oneself. I was not sure I was sensing her emotional state through little almost imperceptible gestures, or if it was me. Her contemplative state confronted me with my own stressed and tired body, after working those weeks so much. My tension became even more evident when faced to the opposite. When the image disappeared and I stood in front of myself, it was at first a bit uncomfortable, and I immediately judged it, but soon I felt compassion. I didn’t see the stress I was feeling but a calm image as well.

Nicole Michalla

Alberto Gnola

An image as I am in the mountains right now, very isolated from the life I have in Paris.

And 2 words perhaps: silence and care. 

Having shared 10 minutes of silence with you felt like being here in the mountains in the pyrenee area in South of France and hearing barely the sound of the sheep’s bells. 

I had been distracted by my son while we were looking at each other, he woke up and my partner needed to soothe him back to sleep. That as well is part of my experience of this past month:  silence and care. 

My thoughts are not organized, I apologize about it. I am taking time to listen and not to think.

Sarah Fdili Alaoui

Having interacted with you virtually, the whole experience felt rather familiar to me at first. The experience of rushing into a video conference and turning myself “on” for the camera. Of course, it only took a few minutes for me to find myself in unfamiliar territory, as the normal warm-ups for a virtual interaction, the  greetings and catch-ups were off the table. Idling with another person face-to-face in silence is an intimate act or an intimacy creating act. I began to feel rather vulnerable and uncertain of what was going on and what I should do. I became fidgety, or perhaps I only felt fidgety given that you seemed so still. As the nervousness gradually dissipated, I began to wonder more about who I was looking at, then how and whether it really was a question of who I was looking at or if it was a question of who I was piecing together. Following your abrupt departure, I made the recording attached to this email…

– Muindi Muindi

When you logged off a few minutes ago, I was startled to be staring at myself again. These ten minutes passed more quickly than I’d imagined ten minutes last. But measuring time is never my forte.

Thank you for these moments of stillness. They felt less lonely, and more focused, than the stretches of minutes (hours/days) in which I’ve accidentally done nothing. The pandemic has really messed up my already-shaky handle on time.

Before our encounter, I was scouring the internet for kf94s, so that my partner will be safe when he returns to the classroom next week, and wondering what “safe” means in this context. I was also rewriting sentences, in my head, for the manuscript that I’m woefully behind in revising; thinking about whether to move halfway across the country next week, as I’ve planned, or if the rise of delta means I should delay that; and periodically trying to work out where I went wrong in today’s crossword puzzle.

And then I clicked into our encounter, with you looking into the camera, and I began to feel — calm, quiet, still. (No, that’s not quite right, because at first I was surprised to see that I had connected via my external camera, which I then had to resituate, and it made me flustered, and I briefly enlarged my own video feed at least three times to make sure it was in place. But then I stopped doing that.) I spent most of the encounter just sitting, listening to my dog snoring softly on the couch behind me, and looking at you, live in full screen on my laptop. Did I remember to look into the camera at all? I’m not sure I did. If not: apologies.

But you looked into the camera. I’m thinking now about how you looked — attentively but not expressively. That is, without doing what a director I used to work with would have called indicating, an exaggerated comportment meant to telegraph one’s internal state. I tend to do it a lot when I video conference, especially when teaching, in an effort to push past the mediated distances of the remote classroom, to build up the zoom room’s energy. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, but an irony is that afterwards, like so many of us, I feel totally depleted. By contrast, just being with you, however mediated, has left me feeling restored.

Li Cornfeld

I am sat in the hallway, in a space in between, inside and outside,  that is not my house or home, but a friends rather cluttered holding space. I enjoy the silence with you. I am with a curved back I notice, I move position…I notice the pain down my left arm and leg, its more of stiffness in my joints that wants more attention I know. I enjoy it here with you. I could stay longer but dinner is cooking

With much gratitude and inspiration for the interval, for holding this interval space

Rosalind Holgate Smith

…such a pleasure to spend time with you late in the evening (our time),…  you looked intensely focussed, and i was happy about that as it allowed me to dream, and imagine how i could distract you; the yellow balloon, named Jaaqa, was drawn by my 3 year old grand niece Sara last week when i visited her..

-Johannes Birringer

Desiree Foerster

I couldn’t stop thinking of Proust for some reason.

“Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade.”

Will Daddario

White space framing curls

Chirping birds and summer sky

Power of stillness