There has been a trending theme in the art world within the past few years of critiquing the modern day obsession with technology through the expression of art. It can be a confusing path for many artists, especially emerging – who are typically considered part of the millennial generation, the prime technology-abusing candidates. However, photographer, Eric Pickersgill, of North Carolina takes a blunt spin on the concept.
In his black and white series, “Removed” the photographer has captured every day scenarios – but with a twist. He has removed the most vital piece of technology in our day-to-day lives, the cellphone. Pickersgill’s subjects are pictured sitting on couches, laying in bed, driving, essentially any and all quotidian activities. They all appear as though they are engaging with their cellphones but instead of the actual iPhone or Blackberry, their hands are empty. This absence of the phone is fairly obvious, manifesting that void of human to human contact and social engagement.
Aside from his own daily cellphone usage Pickersgill found inspiration for the series one day while sitting in a cafe, observing a family’s ‘interaction’:
“A family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and I doubt we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now.”
In a study done by Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of the adult American population (approximately 65%) use social media (Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, etc.) – which has increased from the lowly 7% in 2005. So it shouldn’t really come as a shock to anyone when claims that our society as a whole is dependent on technology. In fact, maybe art is one of the few aspects of culture that can efficiently exploit this societal obsession. Photography like Removed can in turn provide people with more of an awareness, allowing them to consciously separate themselves from their phones on occasion.
Photos courtesy of the artist.
Like this article? Check out Yukai Du’s GIFS About Our Digitally-Betwitched Culture, or other intriguing art projects from artists around the world.