Elipsis: Photographic series Produced by Victoria Mapplebeck and exhibited in a six week show at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art .

Victoria Mapplebeck (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


Ellipsis – Smartphone photographic series – 2015- 16

For over eighteen months, I have used my camera phone to document contemporary mobile phone use. On my daily commute around London, on buses, on trains, packed in close to my fellow travellers, I have taken hundreds of candid photographs of people lost in the phones they hold close to them. Smartphones respond to us in the same way people do. They respond to our voice, to our touch. The subjects documented in Ellipsis, cradle rather than hold their phones. In the numerous close ups of faces and hands, there is a palpable sense of the emotional attachment to our phones.

Within the Ellipsis series this intimate attachment to the ‘digital prosthetic’ (Reading 2012) is particularly evident. Reading interprets the increasing ‘wearabilty’ and ‘shareabilty’ of mobile phones as a defining turn, one in which smartphones provide a hugely important contribution to an ‘emergent form of digital memory’. Whilst 160 characters explored the mobile phone as affective technology, Ellipses extends this by engaging with current debates about ‘embodiment’ and digital technologies.

This collection of intimate portraits also takes its place in a history of urban street portraiture, exploring the legacy of Walker Evan’s Many are Called (1938) and Chris Marker’s Passengers (2011) Both these photographic series of passengers on public transport were documented with concealed cameras. Many Are Called, Passengers and Ellipsis raise important questions about the affordances and ethics of candid photographic portraiture. In 2016, the Ellipsis series was showcased in an exhibition of my work at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art .
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2016

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