Artist Antoine Geiger has created an unsettling series of digitally altered photographs showing people’s faces getting sucked into their devices.
The images are striking, and they speak to a common concern in our culture: are we becoming too concerned with our smartphones and tablets? Are we losing genuine human experience in exchange for a cheap substitute? Is this the beginning of a dark spiral into nested simulated existences that strip us of our humanity and identity?
“This work is called « SUR-FAKE »” the artist writes in the series’ explanation. “It [places] the screen as an object of ‘mass subculture,’ alienating the relation to our own body, and more generally to the physical world. I wanted to come back to the idea of these faked identities, over-exposed, sucked by the digital gulf that breaks the relation to ‘real’, to bring back a self-focused image of the individual. What interests me in this texture of sucked faces, is the the over-exposure gradually allows a very organic dimension, as well as digital, to render something quite disturbing.”
Conceptually, this is nothing new. Artists and social critics have decried smartphones since their creations. But in terms of social patterns, this is downright ancient. As an XKCD comic articulately points out:
What we’re seeing here is just another case of . If you just brushed over that link without clicking it, you should seriously give that video a watch because that man knows himself some knowledge. Basically, this is just part of a cycle of needless panic that comes with each generation in which the old distrust the social norms of the young.
“This polymorphous inter-face is turning into a dialogue between your neurosis and your psychosis,” Geiger writes. But is it really? Or are our devices making us more connected than ever before? Every day we are exposed to more humanity than is unprecedented in history. We watch each other’s videos, read each other’s thoughts, share each other’s ideas. I argue that in this era of ever-falling violent crime stats, our devices are helping us build empathy, not isolate ourselves.
What do you think? Are we sacrificing ourselves to these devices, or are they drawing us together? Let us know in the comments!