Our phones have given us a level of connection like never before. It’s so easy these days to connect with anyone we want to, even if they live on the other side of the world. With this sense of connection, however, it seems we have lost our interconnectivity.
Photographer Eric Pickersgill has perceived how out of touch with those around us we have become because of technology. It was at a café when Pickersgill was observing a family at a table that he realized how much things had changed for us all. It was then that the photographer decided to take on an eye-opening project.
Pickersgill’s project involves a series of photographs from everyday life. The one thing that is common in each of the photos is that technological devices were removed from the photos. Hence the project’s name, Removed.
On his website, Pickersgill writes about the experience that triggered his project. At the café, the photographer recalls, there was a “family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY.” The family, he writes, was “so disconnected from one another. Not much talking.”
“Father and two daughters have their own phones out,” Pickersgill writes. “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.”
“I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting,” Pickersgill continues. “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,” Pickersgill writes. “It was one of those moments where you see something so amazingly common that it startles you into consciousness of what’s actually happening. 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,” Pickersgill continues. “We rest back to back on our sides coddling our small, cold, illuminated devices every night.” It was this unforgettable scene which led the photographer to work on Removed.
Pickersgill’s project involves large portraits of individuals and groups going about their everyday life. Pickersgill has, however, removed the electronic devices from the people’s hands. Accordingly, what we see in the photos is people starting at their empty hand.
“The photographs represent reenactments of scenes that I experience daily. We have learned to read the expression of the body while someone is consuming a device. When those signifiers are activated it is as if the device can be seen taking physical form without the object being present.”
Pickersgill captures a couple who are just married. The two are sitting a bit far from each other and they are staring at their empty hand. The capture is quite arresting, as it's so evident the disconnect is there even on what is supposed to be a day of connection between to people.
Pickersgill captures a couple sitting on a chair. They look together but the sense of disconnection is still felt when looking at this photo. The shot captures perfectly how we are often physically there with our loved ones but we are not completely there.
Even unwinding has been taken over by technology. It seems that resting our head on the lap of someone we love is no longer a way to talk about the day and to catch up. Despite there being a sense of intimacy in this photo, that disconnection is still there.
This photo stands out in Pickersgill's project. It shows how different play time is for kids these days. More than that, it shows that kids don't need to practice their social skills or to move physically to play.
One of the most arresting of Pickersgill's shots. This photo shows how even in the most intimate place in a couple’s home technology has still taken over. The couple looks disconnected not only mentally but even physically in this shot.
Pickersgill’s project is an eye-opener. Did you notice what else is common in all of these photos besides the empty hands? It’s the frown the people sport on their face. There doesn’t seem to be much life in their eyes when they are looking at their phone screen.