Photographer Eric Pickersgill’s REMOVED is a series of black and white photos capturing the all-too-obsessive use of mobile devices… only he has removed the actual device from their hands.
Eric Pickersgill’s REMOVED
We all know how dependent upon smart phones and tablets we have become. Many of us shake our heads sadly as we encounter crowds of people affixed to the screens on their devices, completely unaware of what is happening in the world around them. People in cars, at intimate meals, walking their dogs, waiting at bus stops – all engrossed in the world living in their palm. I even encounter people interacting with their precious technology in museums and parks; at family meals and during sports, theater and other places where they are offered far more beautiful and interesting things to observe.
Eric Pickersgill noticed this too and has documented the obsession in an unusual way. He has produced large format portraits of individuals (and his own family) who appear to be holding personal devices although the devices have been physically removed from the their hands.
To get these photos, Eric asked the subjects to hold their stare and posture as he removed their device and then made the exposure.
The photographs represent reenactments of scenes that the photographer experienced daily. His images reveal how we have learned to read the body of someone interacting with a device and when those signifiers are activated, it’s as if the device can be seen taking physical form without the actual object being present.
The inspiration for the project began as Eric sat in a café one morning and wrote the following about his observations:
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.
The image of that family, the mother’s face, the teenage girls’ and their father’s posture and focus on the palm of their own hands has been burned in my mind. It was one of those moments where you see something so amazingly common that it startles you into consciousness of what’s actually happening and it is impossible to forget. I see this family at the grocery store, in classrooms, on the side of the highway and in my own bed as I fall asleep next to my wife. We rest back to back on our sides coddling our small, cold, illuminated devices every night.
Eric is a co-founder of The Gallery 145 and Mall Pretzel. In 2015 Eric completed an internship at Cassilhaus Gallery and is the Director of Community Engagement at The Light Factory in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eric is also a Visiting Lecturer for The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Eric’s work explores the psychological and social effects that cameras and their artifacts have on individuals and societies as a whole. See more of it at www.ericpickersgill.com
For print and gallery inquiries please contact him directly here.
Follow Eric on Instagram at @ericpickersgill
all images and information courtesy of Eric Pickersgill