The greatest artwork around the world capture the most intriguing aspects of humanity, both the good and the bad, and the world around us. Classical artists chose to immortalize the beauty of the human form, such as that of Michelangelo’s “David” or Alexandros’ “Venus de Milo.” Other artists portrayed essential beliefs or the triumphs of humankind like Eugène Delacroix’ “Liberty Leading the People” or “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emmanuel Leutze. Modern artists, far more than just being avant-garde and experimental, focus on the experiences, thoughts, and emotions that constitute the individual self. Some artists create artwork for social movements like the quest for social justice in war-torn areas, others for relevant social advocacies.
One of these artists is Eileen Haring Woods and her art, which focuses on both individuality and the need for interdependence. Eileen Haring Woods is a conceptual artist, producer, and curator. She has an extensive background in several art forms and media such as design, film, theatre, music, art, and production. She is a born and raised New Yorker, but she also spent time living and working in Dublin, Ireland for six years then moved and stayed for more than 30 years in London, England. At present, she is based in Suffolk, East Anglia in the United Kingdom.
The I-Look-To-You Project
I-Look-To-You is an art project made with the initiative of several participants who volunteered to be a part of the project. The art project aims to celebrate the unique individuality found in each person in connection to modern society’s need for interdependence. The essential element of the art project is the use of the imagery made from the participant’s eyes as a visual metaphor. Existing as an iteration of Eileen Haring Wood’s signature artistic style, I-Look-To-You was birthed from her “Unique in the Universe” artwork which was launched in 2014 at the London Art Fair. The piece made use of a combination of film, photography, and conversation as its art medium in the creation of a set of eye portraits captured from both friends and strangers. The art is visually appealing and emotionally moving as the personality and individuality of the people shines through their eyes – the so-called “windows” to one’s soul.
The Project at the Venice Biennale 2019
The second installment following the 2014 art under the I-Look-Yo-You project is Eileen’s “Alive in the Universe” which was showcased this 2019 at the Venice Biennale. This artwork is in the form of a 16-minute projection making use of two screens. The main focus of “Alive in the Universe,” more than the emotion and experiences between the eyes of the people in the portraits, is the theme of interdependence. The artwork leads the viewers to ponder on how trust can be recognized and developed in today’s modern society, where distrust among people is prevalent. The projection of the eye portraits is accompanied by a soundtrack that encourages the audience to meditate and contemplate during the presentation. The combination of image and sound compels viewers to have an in-depth conversation with the expressive eyes of “Alive in the Universe.”