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Look Carefully At These Photos And You'll See Something Important Is Missing

OCTOBER 15, 2015  —  By Laura Caseley  
Laura Caseley

Laura Caseley

Laura Caseley is a New York-based writer, artist, and illustrator. When she's not writing and researching for ViralNova, you can find her working on an art project or enjoying a good cup of tea.

These days, it's impossible to go anywhere and not see some kind of electronic gadget at work. Smartphones are pretty awesome, since they allow us to access the Internet from just about anywhere and help us stay in touch with everyone we love.

As photographer Eric Pickersgill noticed, however, there's another side to them, too. They can isolate us, and keep us from appreciating the world we're currently inhabiting in favor of embracing a virtual one. His series Removed takes a look at what we look like when we stare at our phones.

The series poses subjects to look like they're holding their phones.

The only catch is that the phones are actually missing.

As a result, we're just left with their awkward postures and their obvious disconnection from one another.

By looking down, people give off somber, closed-off vibes.

Much of their body language looks similar to that of someone who is feeling sad and lonely.

Pickersgill got the idea one morning in a cafe when he saw a family sitting around a table, each one of them on their separate phones. They were occupying the same physical space, but were totally disengaged.

When he first came up with the project, he disliked the idea of taking pictures of people using their phones without their consent or knowledge -- after all, portable technology also allows people to be creepy.

That's when he decided that he'd stage the photos.

According to the photographer, all of the subjects seemed happy to be part of the project.

He based the various poses off of his own experience. Checking his emails in bed, he fell asleep and dropped his phone. "Before I thought to bend over the edge to pick it up I looked at my partially open palm resting on the edge of the bed that still held the shape of my dropped device. I realized that was how I would be able to make the photographs for Removed," he explains.

People's reactions, he says, have been just as interesting as the photos themselves.

This image, which points out the very real danger of distracted driving, is one of the most powerful.

"Some seeing the image of the potential head-on collision feel embarrassed or perhaps emotional if they have been impacted by an accident like this," Pickersgill says, referring to the photo above. "Others, specifically when accessing the content online, proudly exclaim 'hypocrite' or 'too bad I'm reading this on a device.'"

But that's part of the complexity of the series. There are vast benefits to this kind of technology, but it has changed the way we interact and socialize.

By just making this project, Pickersgill says that he has been in communication with many people (like the gang here at ViralNova), all thanks to technology.

He says Removed is not an attempt to bash on technology or smartphones, but simply to make people aware of the ways our methods of interaction have changed.

And Pickersgill doesn't take a high-and-mighty approach, either. In this photo, he's included himself.

"I often feel that this work is most impactful for those who have performed for the images," he says. "Once you see yourself within the photograph, you become a little more aware of whats going on."

(via Ufunk)

You can see more of this series on his website, and more of Pickersgill's other photography projects on his personal page. You can also keep up with him on Tumblr.

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