The first cinematic kiss appeared in 1896, there are scientific theories on why we all started kissing each other in the first place, and there’s this. And today we have Tatia Pilieva’s First Kiss video making the rounds! I don’t always get swept away in these moments of collective Internet unconscious, but this one is too charming to ignore. It is very reminiscent of Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More assignment to take a photo of strangers holding hands. Something so human, vulnerable and intimate is immediately revealed, a part of ourselves usually kept guarded as we walk around the world most days.
At a performance of July’s that I went to once, we were instructed to hold the arm of the person beside us. After this, she said (something along the lines of), “Your best friend might meet this stranger at a rock show and they might sit in a parked car talking for hours and when they break up, 10 years later, the stranger, the one whose arm you’re holding right now, might call you sobbing at odd hours of the night, asking What did I do wrong? And you will say, You did nothing wrong. Practice this now, say: “You did nothing wrong,” to the stranger.” We then turned to the person beside us and said this. The man whose arm I was touching suddenly seemed very dear to me in this startling way. I wanted to comfort him, and felt very close to him, despite his being a total stranger, despite the fact that in any other circumstance I would have ignored his presence there one inch from me.
What Miranda July’s projects illuminate and what is at the heart of this First Kiss video is that we don’t even know how close we are to each other, we don’t always feel our full capacity for connection. Half the time we ignore it entirely for all sorts of practical and psychological reasons. But our lives are full of serendipitous moments we should pay full attention to. And within the context of these spaces that artists construct for us, our abilities and desires to connect are nearly immediate and entirely genuine. A thought I often entertained as a teenager (and still do, actually) is that everyone we love now, everyone we feel we could never live without, everyone who is our friend, the person we would call sobbing at odd hours of the night, the person we would grab close to us and kiss passionately, was once a complete stranger.