Our individual perceptions of personal space are as unique as they are private. In an effort to investigate this phenomenon, American artist and photographer Joy Mckinney decided to breach a simple boundary in her project titled "The Guardian."
With the aim of "exploring the social and cultural attitudes towards race and gender," Mckinney asked seventy four strangers if she could touch their faces. The resulting images, snapped at the moment of connection, betray an uneasy marriage of violation and intimacy.
"Issues of privacy and space occupy us more than ever, and much of the rhetoric associated with these topics focuses on the dangers and perils of physical and even virtual contact," McKinney stated in a phone interview with The Huffington Post. "Little is said about the fundamental need for touch, for intimacy, for the possibilities of wordless communication, even between strangers."
According to Mckinney, the New York-based project can be divided into two discrete bodies of work. The first is her collection of seventy four portraits, produced with the various subjects' consent. The second is the complementary video titled "Touch Me," which documents Mckinney's brave (albeit audacious) attempts at making contact with unsuspecting strangers.
Both approaches yielded powerful narratives, but the plethora of reactions displayed in her video (posted below), ranging from moving to downright hilarious, is particularly noteworthy. To see more of Mckinney's work, be sure to visit her website. And let us know your thoughts on "The Guardian" in the comments below.