“The joining of people to devices has been rapid and unalterable,” photographer Eric Pickersgill writes, by way of introducing his project “Removed.” There are benefits to this to be sure, he goes on, but there’s something about the way we use our smartphones that’s changing us.
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.
To illustrate this exceptionally common behavior, Pickersgill took a series of portraits in which he asked the subjects to remain posed after he took their phone away.
“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.”
See more of the series here, and check out a video about it below.