Open Your Eyes

4 min read by Vincent Assante Di Cupillo. Published in Essays & Stories.
A project aimed at interacting with people and their dreams. A portraiture of calm, peace, and vulnerability. “Open Your Eyes” is a series of photographs with the subjects’ eyes closed, thinking of their dreams.

The series got initiated back in 2009 on the streets of Shenzhen, China. Eight years later I revived my work in Busan, South Korea, using the same camera, same film: Contax G2 with 28mm lens and Ilford HP5+.

The process remains, as I approach my subjects and ask them to close their eyes for a minute and think about their one wish, ambition, or goal. I ask them to think of their dream.

Ah Q, from Taiwan, manager in a bookstore. Wishes to be happy everyday.

After taking the photograph I make an audio recording with my interviewee introducing themselves, telling the listener of their origin and occupation, and, most importantly, their dream.

Note: You can listen to Ah Q, Mr Ng, Galia, Eric, Jal, Teresa, Sahitya and Victor talk about their dreams on SoundCloud.

Mr Ng, from Bao An Nantou, China, operator and kung fu boxer. Hopes to save people who attempt to commit suicide and to convince them not to try killing themselves again. He’s been living at a public pier for over a year and has saved the lives of 4 persons.

Each encounter with a new stranger is a special moment for me. At times, our conversations broaden beyond the small-talk as we discuss our lives, our dreams, their goals and my creative endeavours. As we part, I hope that it’s been a special moment for both of us.

Galia, from Moscow, Russia, student-freelancer. Her dream is to meet Oh Sehun (Korean singer).

There is tension and energy throughout each step of the project. From the moment when I approach a person whom I’ve never known and ask them to participate in an unusual activity. While I wait for them to decide the fate of our chance encounter. All the way ‘till I wash the film.

For me, this tension makes the work engaging, interesting, and worth pursuing. I got used to people declining to participate fairly early; I get more “noes” than “yesses” which is quite understandable, expected. That’s why getting accepted feels like a little miracle. And at that moment I feel overjoyed.


Eric, from Hong Kong. Wants to take good care of his family and to have a good career.

Before we part, I make an effort to retain some connection with the event and the person who has participated in my project.

Jal, from Philippines and Australia. Dancer artist wishing to move to New York or somewhere very accepting of individuality and creativity.

I offer my contact info and request theirs. My photographs are made on film, invisible until developed, requiring us to connect once again should the image be ever seen by the subject.

So far I’ve collected around sixty portraits, stories and sound recordings of strangers and their dreams for the project that I hope to pursue indefinitely.

Teresa, from Hong Kong, teacher in a primary school, dreams of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance.
Sahitya, from India, living in Los Angeles, homemaker. She was thinking about her grandmother who recently passed away.
Victor, from Brazil, model, dreams above all to be happy. He also wants to have good friends, to be a good model and to make his family happy.