In Coriolanus Shakespeare reminds us that there is “a world elsewhere”. The forty selected photographs reflect a people facing life in areas of conflict, the challenges of climate change, or something which is largely outside their control. Some are reminders of the fragility of human life and others show human resiliance and hope.
The pictures taken in Palestine seem to capture alienation really well…or is that just because of the current news from that part of the world colouring my sensibilities?
Looking for image ideas I found the following which has a very strong visual appeal using the metaphor of “torn” or “broken” as a proxy for alienation.
I have been exploring the work of John Stezaker which led me to the work of Mario Zoots where I found the following image:
Whilst Stezaker appears to overlay images or juxtapose them, the technique of Zoots is slightly different. I like the idea in the image but the boy does appear to be too young to indulge in the offer of wine.
Source: Cyborgology (2012)
The above image shows technology alienation in the industrial era. There are many similarities with the information age, most notably being the way in which technology has tied people to mundane tasks and removed their connection to the earth.
“Sherry Turkle thinks social media is one of many things in the modern technological landscape that can isolate us, make us less human, and potentially cause a lot of harm. It’s in her new book, “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other.” Turkle doesn’t come by this observation lightly, either.
The book is some 15 years in the making and is the result of massive amounts of research into how people use technology in (and sometimes instead of) interpersonal relationships. “Alone Together” is actually considered the third in a trilogy of books Turkle has written on the connection between people and the machines they build. She’s the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.”
Source: John Moe, http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/does-technology-alienate-us-each-other
An interesting image which uses “reflection” as a device to communicate. The book cover, shown below uses blur as a proxy for speed and lack of real connection.
Turkle, S. (2011) Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, Basic Books: New York.
There are many images to be found in Google Images or in Corbis if you search for “technology alienation”. Some of the more thoughtful images are elsewhere on the Internet. Here is an interesting one that shows the eyes and ears directly connected by technology to some “other” world:
Illustration by Matt Hainley
Observers such as York and Pendharkar (2004) suggest that ubiquitous computing has led to technology which is suitable for people rather than one where people have to enter an alien machine environment.
Anyone who was familiar with the DOS operating system in the 1980’s might readily agree that current versions of Windows, or iOS and Android are much more in tune with how people intuitively wish to operate. Many observers have written about the addictive nature of the Internet and the mobile phone (see for example Porter and Kakabadse, 2006). Has the pervasive nature of ICTs somewhat paradoxically led to alienation? This study seeks to explore the nature of this paradox. On the one hand people can appear to exhibit features of addiction when interfacing with ICTs yet on the other people can appear to be more distant (or alienated) from those people they are interacting with.
Consideration of the paradox and the relationship of technology to both addiction and alienation beg many further questions. How is the individual affected? How is society affected? What emotions are experienced? Is addiction related to age, gender, or occupation? Although there are many questions that remain unanswered the core ideas to be explored here relate to “how we imagine technology addiction and alienation”. Can images, through the media of photography, engage audiences in further exploring thoughts, reactions, and choices in their own use (and abuse) of ICTs?
 Addiction is defined here as “needing more to be satisfied with less”. (Kelly, 2010, p213).
 Alienation is a central concept in social sciences. Technology alienation was first mentioned by Marx (1888). In this study we operationalize the concept using the six dimensions of Seeman (1959) as refined most recently by (Nygren &Gidlund 2012).
If, as Weiser (1991) suggested, the most profound technologies disappear then how do we capture the relationship of people to those technologies in a series of photographs?
“Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we do not experience it.”
― May, R (1993) The Cry for Myth
For me this quote sums up the alienating effect that technology can have on us. It brings to mind images of children playing computer games on long car journeys. They have experienced the game but not the journey through beautiful countryside.
But we do have a choice…there is always the “off button”, or what IBM used to call the “big red switch” (remember those on early IBM PC’s?).
“Our technology forces us to live mythically”
― Marshall McLuhan
Have suffered and been fascinated by both my own and other people’s addiction to modern technology. Most often observed on the train when your fellow passenger just has to answer that phone even though he is sitting in the “quiet carriage”. Car drivers also seem addicted to answering the phone whilst driving, even though it is illegal.
On holiday, how many times do you check your emails?