(Short Film) Opia: The Ambiguous Intensity of Eye Contact

Opia: The Ambiguous Intensity of Eye Contact

opia - n. the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable--their pupils glittering, bottomless and opaque--as if you were peering through a hole in the door of a house, able to tell that there’s someone standing there, but unable to tell if you’re looking in or looking out.


The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows produced yet another gorgeous short film with "Opia."

The film describes the meaning of "Opia" - a newly invented word that describes powerful emotions and impressions evoked by eye-contact.

John Koenig, the creator of the video offers additional commentary:

"One thing I find fascinating about eye contact is how utterly mutual it is. In order to get access to someone's eyes you have to expose your own at exactly the same time. Like poker. You lock eyes across a party, and ante up in order to play. 'I see your sublimated frustration at being out of place, and raise you an empathic nod.' 'I see your flirtatious glance, and raise you a tension-diffusing comedic eyebrow wiggle.' You push your chips forward, then you show your cards. 

Eye contact is such a delicate and dangerous art. Even holding it a half-second too long can radically change its meaning, like a wayward brushstroke on a painting that can radically shift an expression from dismissive to neutral, or from flirty to wary to sardonic, or from suspicious to threatening to seductive to unspoken bond to wordless gratitude then back around to murderous."