Art Out: Tabitha Soren “Surface Tension”
By Sarah Sunday
Our electronic devices have become an extension to our body, and we stare into the screens of our iPads, phones, and laptops for hours a day. They are lit up and crammed with images, emails and a million ingenious ways to distract, entertain and connect us to individuals not physically near to us. However, take a moment now and look at the surface of your phone. Take note of the smudges and fingerprints, dotted and swiped about. What do the patterns tell you?
Tabitha Soren’s project, Surface Tension, combines multiple art mediums to find a middle ground between photography, technology, and the grime of human touch. Intrigued by the grubby smattering left by fingertips, Soren believes that there is a direct correlation between an individual’s personal user experience on their device and the physical tracks that are left behind. Her project touches upon the lack of emotion and human intimacy in the lives of people today that has been replaced by mobile ‘connection'.
Using an 8x10 film camera, Soren has shot iPad screens and blown up the images, emphasizing the sheet of fingerprints over the device’s screen. The images the smudges lie upon are vague; most are blurred or out of focus. The title of each photograph is simply a URL link. Some will direct you to obscure Facebook or Instagram profiles, but most will lead to nowhere, site not found. In this way, Soren overlays her work with an air of ambiguity and disconnection.
Surface Tension critically looks at the impact of technology upon human nature, altering the way in which we interact and socialize today. The work points out that the act of verbalizing is being pushed out and taken over by the act of visualizing. Memes, emojis, and gifs can more quickly express a set of emotion than words themselves. Through the images, Soren speaks of memory and of history. The prints we leave on our cold, well-designed, and inanimate device are very human. They are greasy and dirty and real. Her work is a reminder that humanity is beautiful and the power of human touch is not to be taken for granted or undervalued.
Wellesley College, MA
February 7, 2019 - June 9, 2019
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