Experiment No. 1

On a Sunday in late September 2020, we held the first ‘Viral Papers Experiment’. We met with four of our friends (therefore obeying the Rule of Six) in a park near our homes and obeyed the laws of social distancing to the best of our abilities.

The theme of our first experiment was: The Rules. In an invitation sent out beforehand to the participants, we asked everyone to think about the visual reminders of social distancing guidelines which now plaster the walls and floors wherever we go. We began by talking about the circles that now guide us around pharmacies and shopping centres, and the two-meter arrows which lure us apart on crowded pavements.

This led to a discussion of intimacy: how could we be close to one another from afar? We talked about the government guidelines on how to have sex coronavirus-safely and we joked about the new recommendations for how to film intimate scenes for films and TV shows. This led us to think about how one could make someone else feel their touch even from meters away and the topics of puppetry, cobwebs, and the manipulations of perspective followed on from these discussions. Below are the results of our discussions!

SPIDER WEB

The first thing we did was as a whole group: using the bundles of string we had brought along with us, we tied and tangled ourselves up at two-meter distances from one another. Once fixed in our positions in the web, we attempted to walk as a group through the area of woodland that we were in. Inevitably, it was impractical as a form of group transport: the distances we had created between one another led to increasing difficulties as we encountered narrow paths and obstacles in our way.


Puppet and Puppeteer: a continuation of the Spider Web idea by Rose and Pel


CONNECTED FINGERS

Jess and Julia stretched out a two-meter piece of string between them and tied it to their fingers.

Each finger on one of their hands was then connected by the string between them. They then experimented with passing objects between them.

First Jess’s, and then Julia’s, hands were connected by string to hanging slivers of wood. When one finger moved, the hanging stick would move with it: the force of the hand, so far removed from the majority of the body of the stick, could disrupt and entangle that which was above it.


TUGS OF A HUG

Anna and Bella tied themselves together and experimented with the idea of hugging from afar. Through the string, they could feel each other’s tensions and pulling motions, and so were able to recreate something resembling a hug.

Then they created a two meter circle on the ground and lay inside it: keeping their mouths outside of the circle, they were able to touch one another and thus create something of a two-meter distanced dance


LEANING TOWER OF PISA – COVID EDITION

Using the stereotypical images we were all familiar with, of tourists holding their hands up as if supporting the Leaning Tower of Pisa, we played with perspective and created photos in which we recreate intimacy and touch, only from very far away.

Created by Julia Lasica and Anna Curzon Price. With thanks to Bella, Rose, Pel, and Jess.