Science and Water

‘India’s future? Men, Machines, but no water’, a photograph by Indian science journalist Pallava Bagla.

Water is a vital but scarce resource.  Yet many people throughout the world do not have access to clean drinking water.

The photograph above communicates the idea that all the development of science and technology may fail to deliver on basic needs of people.   The image is “posed” like a still life yet it instantly communicates the issue.

Technology and relationships

Here is an example of performance art where the artist and six computer monitors were submerged in a bathtub.   A strong visual impression is created, raising issues of waste, proliferation, multiple ways of seeing and the spiritual alienation of the age of technology.


Source: Yu Jie (2008),

Technology alienation

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[1] 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[2]”.   Can images, through the media of photography, engage audiences in further exploring thoughts, reactions, and choices in their own use (and abuse) of ICTs?

[1] Addiction is defined here as “needing more to be satisfied with less”.   (Kelly, 2010, p213).

[2] 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).