What it means to me (1) “People passing, never meeting”

I spend a lot of time thinking about photography. When I’m not taking photographs it’s a pretty good bet I’m thinking about taking photographs. More and more often I am specifically thinking about what my photographs mean to me. When I first took up photography I took pictures of nice things. Hopefully some of them were nice pictures of nice things but, over time, these images became less and less satisfying and I came to realise the problem was that they had no significant meaning for me. This post then is the first in an occasional series in which I attempt to crystallize my thoughts as to what a particular image means to me.

The image above, “People passing, never meeting” is part of my Modern Life series which focuses on the way we live our lives in a modern urban environments and how our technology, and that environment, impact upon those lives.

Human interaction is not my strong suit (to put it mildly). Since childhood I have had trouble interacting socially with new acquaintances or in groups of more than three or four people (even if I know them well). Over the years my quest to understand my own inability has resulted in my paying particular attention to how others interact (or don’t). For me escalators (and this image specifically) epitomise the impact of modern technology on the manner in which we live and interact. On the surface it is designed to make life easier as it whisks us effortlessly along a fixed path to our destination.

Unfortunately there is no pause button (unless you want to set off an alarm) and people are moved relentlessly in different directions down their own enclosed paths, with almost no way to interact. A fleeting glance or a wave to a friend is the best you can hope for before life hurries you off in different directions. The escalator here is a metaphor for the many technological wonders that should be a power for good but which in many ways limit or freedom to move around and interact directly.

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