Personal devices have replaced friends, family, and even our own selves when it comes to spending time with people. As soon as there is a pause in conversation, a fleeting moment of boredom, or hands itching to do something, out comes the personal device – to entertain, to distract, to keep busy.
While it may seem like a fun and harmless game, the presence of such devices actually forms an invisible wall between the user and the rest of the world. It sends a loud and clear signal that a person does not wish to be interrupted and that nothing in the immediate vicinity matters more than what is on the screen.
Eric Pickersgill is a photographer from North Carolina who wished to capture the strange effect that devices are having on human relationships. He created a stunning series of photos called “Removed.” His models held devices in their hands until the moment Pickersgill removed them, just before taking the photograph. The entire series was made with black and white film in a large format view camera.
Pickersgill writes on his website:
“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.”
The photos strike a chord with viewers, who can relate to the way in which we embrace our devices, rather than the people around us. It makes us realize how our body language changes when we engage with personal devices, to the point that, even when the device isn’t there, everything else says it is.
“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 following slideshow features images from the “Removed” series, which will be featured in a solo exhibition at Rick Wester Fine Art in New York's Chelsea Arts District, starting March 24, 2016.