Below is the growing collection of traces from those who have taken part in a one-on-one encounter as part of IDLE. In the coming months, resonance from these traces will be folded into the ongoing creative process of the Im/mediations project, being developed in collaboration by Teoma Naccarato and John MacCallum. The traces are ordered by the time of our encounters. Please use the arrows to navigate through them!
Of course the moment I joined the room, I had a reflexive reaction of saying hi, but immediately realized the intent of the project. At first I felt a bit uneasy in that it seemed a bit voyeuristic, and that I was projecting my gaze onto you. I thought that perhaps this was required in that you were doing the same. But the longer we stared at each other, the more I felt an objectifying effect taking place. I realized by doing this I was seeing less, and unable to read you or connect with you. So, I closed my eyes, to see if I could better understand and connect with your presence on screen. It's been a very long time since I've meditated, and the process was profoundly enlightening. The longer I meditated with my eyes closed, the clearer my mind became. All those thoughts or assumptions buzzing inside my head receded. I began to reconnect to my chakras, and the sense of the gravity that bound my body below me, and the connection I had with the space above me and finally the virtual space we were sharing. I did open my eyes several times, and focused onto the wall in front of me, outside our virtual space but always aware of it, which in turn gave me a sense of the space I occupied in my apartment and space outside on the streets.When I opened my eyes for the last times, you had disconnected which was somewhat disconcerting. I had expected you to just leave the space and the camera would still be on. Overall the experience was quite existential.
The thing that resonated for me was the absence felt when you were suddenly not there, and I was left looking at myself again. That’s when I felt a sense of loss for your presence, and better understood what it had meant to me while you were there. The experience made me think about loss, and loneliness, and about trying to appreciate the present more. It was a very tangible way to reflect on that.
A collapse of time and space
What remains present in absence?
What remains absent in presence?
startled by your sudden departure
reminded of the impermanence of all things
--The calming presence of a person holding space for me to sit still and be
--The sound of a ticking clock, at first impatient then settled into patient waiting
--I was surprised at how quickly 10 minutes flew by!
--Silence of stillness
--My puppy cuddling next to me, stealing idleness for herself as well
- Nicole Furlonge
shared blinking breath
ebb and flow of shoulders
and our throats
did she practice, I wonder, her face
how long have we been (lifetimes)
practicing our (lifelines) faces
do the shores of her mouth tilt up
or was she
- Wiam El Tamami
White space framing curls
Chirping birds and summer sky
Power of stillness
To idle in stillness and silence sounds like an invitation to a situation both predictable and pleasant.
It was unexpected ... and pleasant.
Captivating and calming.
At one point I sneezed.
And before I knew it you were gone. I checked the time because I thought there was no way 10 minutes had passed, but indeed, we had idled for precisely 10 minutes.
I couldn't stop thinking of Proust for some reason.
“Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade.”
...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..
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
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.
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
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
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.
in and out
settling back in