Photos: Eric Pickersgill
Text: Rick Wester
Amercian artist Eric Pickersgill who is known for his photography series Removed was recently in New Delhi in collaboration with Gujral Foundation and app tlkn™. Pickersgill was in India to shoot a similar series like Removed but in colour. These photos are from his earlier series.
In Removed, Pickersgill has taken a portrait of a worldwide culture addicted to connectivity. The subjects in the series are depicted looking at mobile devices, but with the technology removed. In the portraits of what would be quotidian activities, Pickersgill has subjects maintain their gaze and posture as he physically withdraws the devices from their hands. A commentary on how isolating being constantly connected can be, the images call into question the societal implication in exchanging digital connectivity for corporeal reality and capture the zeitgeist of the new technologically centered reality of the 21st century.
By eliminating the source connectivity, Pickersgill rescinds the veil of contemporary technology’s hold on our devotion. The images display a pervading disconnect between the subjects in what should be the most intimate of moments: a friendly social gathering, playtime among small children, a mother with her child. In perhaps the most iconic image from the series, a self-portrait, Angie and Me, Pickersgill and his wife are shown lying in bed. Instead of the young couple sharing the last moments of their day with each other, they lay back-to-back staring into their empty hands, leaving a feeling of isolation and despondency.
The message in Pickersgill’s work is not a Luddite call to arms, but rather a contemporary version of Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town”. The images call on us to appreciate the interactions of everyday life while we live them or at least to examine what we are losing in ignoring those interactions. Removed awakens us from our technology-fueled stupor and, if only for a moment, to look up.
For further information about this series, please visit www.removed.social