Fierce Festival 2019 / Birmingham, UK / 15 – 20 October

Fierce Press Gang: ‘I don’t think we make eye contact enough in society today’

Fierce Festival’s live art performances are certainly thought provoking. Festival newcomer Daniel Eric Farrar (a student from Hull University) was called up onstage during a performance from the Bone Ensemble at PILOT, the opening night of the Fierce Festival at the mac. He was made to engage in the most unusual of situations: a period of prolonged eye contact. Press Gang caught up with him afterwards, and it seems that his first taste of performance art has really altered his perceptions…

Daniel Eric Farrar takes to the stage. Photography by Hannah Elsy

‘It was embarrassing being up on stage. When it came to the eye contact I felt very intimidated. I’m used to performance, I study performance, but you can’t be a character when you’re called up like that- you’re just yourself. It felt really awkward, because I know the girl who I was looking at from college and I didn’t know how she’d react. I’ve never had that experience of just eyeballing someone before- I felt like I was in a meditation.

I don’t think we make eye contact enough in society today. We either look away or get distracted; never actually looking properly into someone’s eyes. In society, you have to talk, look at your phone or fiddle with your hair. If you eyeballed someone like that normally, people would think you were weird. This show has made me think a lot more about eye contact, as it’s not something I usually do. I’d normally look away from someone. The eyes are actually a key human characteristic, because just looking at someone can make them feel more included. When we were looking at each other, the audience were just laughing. I think this was because they saw how awkward it was to not be able to fill the silence’.