Mr. Pickersgill, what an apt title, “Removed“! Please tell us how you were inspired?
I was missing my wife while away from her in the summer of 2015 at an artist residency. I started to notice how everyone was consumed by their phones and only realized this once I was homesick. When I returned home I went back to my old habits of using my phone while I was spending time with my loved ones. One night while falling asleep I was using my phone while in bed with my wife and the phone fell from my hand. I saw my empty palm resting open as if the phone was still there and I immediately had the idea for “Removed“. It was like I could see myself in a photograph of that very moment.
Please comment on couples and families finding their smartphones and the Internet more interesting than each other?
I don’t think we are consciously valuing our phones more than those present although we are communicating that to those around us when we use our devices. It has become normal to do this, and I think it shows that we take our intimate moments for granted. We act as though we can get back to being with each other whenever ever we want, however one day we will see that our friends or family may have moved on.
Research has shown that a good percent of all human communication is wordless. Today, we find a considerable reliance on communication through words alone, using social media and other modern means. Please tell us about your views as to the emptiness of this communication and how far removed from reality people are becoming and how far removed from each other.
I can‘t deny that this technology allows people to connect and be “together“ when they are away from one another. I think that makes these devices hugely important and useful. I think the problem comes from the constant distraction and the appeal of being mentally tethered to the digital world. We stop trying as hard to connect with those who are right next to us, and that can really damage those close relationships.
Please comment on the loss of quality of life compared to earlier generations given our dependance on technology.
I think we value things differently now much like how all generations have shifts between them. This isn‘t the first time technology has shaped all aspects of life, think about the invention of the automobile. At one point in time people drove cars without seat belts and there were no laws about drinking alcohol and driving. I think it will take time, but eventually the real issues of smartphones and the Internet will reveal themselves, and again society will create parameters and expectations and laws that will keep people safe and healthy. Right now we just have to get through this early phase, and unfortunately many people will have to be harmed first before we can collectively say what things need to be changed and why.
Photos from the photoproject “Removed” by Eric Pickersgill