Eric Pickersgill was inspired to take the photographs after observing a family at a cafe one morning in New York. The photographer noted the irony of how technology enabled exchange and interaction virtually while simultaneously disconnecting people from one another in reality.
Pickersgill decided to convey this disconnect in various contexts where technology permeated people’s daily lives. His portraits, part of a series titled “Removed,” were created by asking his subjects to maintain their composure and facial expressions while he physically removes the devices from their hands.
He explained: “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 and when those signifiers are activated it is as if the device can be seen taking physical form without the object being present.”
The results are haunting, as his series of photographs portray a myriad of social situations where people disregard their present reality and the people in front of them for a virtual one instead.
“The joining of people to devices has been rapid and unalterable. The application of the personal device in daily life has made tasks take less time. Far away places and people feel closer than ever before.”
“Despite the obvious benefits that these advances in technology have contributed to society, the social and physical implications are slowly revealing themselves. In similar ways that photography transformed the lived experience into the photographable, performable, and reproducible experience, personal devices are shifting behaviors while simultaneously blending into the landscape by taking form as being one with the body.”
This phantom limb is used as a way of signaling busyness and unapproachability to strangers while existing as an addictive force that promotes the splitting of attention between those who are physically with you and those who are not.”