— Lights and Lines

A Sort of Oxymoron: Asocial Interactions

The Ongoing Moment is a book by Geoff Dyer, an interesting analysis of photography and the reasons behind it written by a non-photographer. There is a lot of food for thought and sometimes it’s useful to get a clear point of view on things I fail to get. I am fascinated by the sudden realization that someone else can give you a perfect explanation of what you are doing.

In this case a single sentence draw my attention:

“…a moment of interaction which is also a moment of separation and alienation”

Dyer is referring to an image of a blind black beggar on the streets of NYC in the late 60s. The author of the image is the great Garry Winogrand (so I am definitely not making comparisons here…).

What surprised me is how this same sentence can be applied to more contemporary “Asocial Interactions” – almost an oxymoron in itself – I have been lately focusing on: our need to rely on technologies to maintain our relationships while inevitably isolating ourselves by the real world.

This is particularly true in large cities such as London whose size is often a deterrent to socializing. Here people tend to spend more time by themselves than in any other place even if a flux of people constantly surrounds us. Alienation seems to go hand in hand with the term metropolis.

The image below was taken during a lunch break in the London Bridge area and it is the first of a potential new project on this “Asocial Interactions” concept.

Asocial Interactions - Marco Barbieri - Photography

There are six people in total: four of them are talking on the phone or possibly checking their emails – they are static figures separated from their surroundings. The woman with red hair, not using any mobile device, seems even more lost and isolated while the man walking in the background is just leaving and gives a sense of movement to the whole scene.

This type of situation is a common site in London and I previously produced many images depicting people lost in the urban environment. However, what was missing in those other cases was the whole idea of interaction: they were not attempting to change their status.
The difference here is the fact that in this case the actual action of interacting is what separates them and alienates them from the world. I could say that Dyer’s sentence was my epiphany.

I suppose I could go on talking about the role of technology and social media in our daily life, our inability to communicate, our dependence on online-only-friends and so on, but much has already been written on the subject. This is just an attempt to visualize it.

Asocial Interactions 

1 comment
  1. [...] to photography I find pleasure in isolation. Asocial Interactions is an ongoing project I already spoke about in this blog. The basic idea behind it is to concentrate on those type of interactions that actually [...]

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