Sarah Christou

Responding to:
‘Development of Wireless Technology. Scene in Hyde Park’, Punch, December 26th 1906
‘Cautionary Forecasts For Wireless Technology’

Medium: Fineliner pen on paper / digital editing. Size: A4

I chose this image because it imagines something very similar to actual mobile phone technology. The cartoonist’s prediction of a mobile communication device’s impact on face-to-face communication is close to the actual impact of mobile phones today.

I was interested in the fact that what was imagined as something to be marvelled at in the original image (albeit comically), has become somewhat of a social problem now that the imagined technology has become a reality. What the cartoonist for the original image has correctly predicted is that two people can be in close proximity, and yet so absorbed by the interaction with their machines that they are oblivious to each other.

I’ve re-created three newspaper cartoons, imagining myself as a cartoonist of the 1900s who has predicted how the invention of the mobile phone could have a negative impact on social interaction and communication. Included in this is a re-working of the original cartoon.

I’m interested in how with mobile technology we allow ourselves to fall into behaviour that may have been considered strange or rude a hundred years ago. By depicting this idea in a style that accurately mimics the look and feel of newspaper cartoons of the early 1900s, I can expose the absurdity of our modern behaviour, where we often take for granted the person in front of us because our attention is absorbed by an interaction with a screen.

Although I have made my pieces humorous, there is a serious point behind them. I want to question our drive to invent ever increasing ways to remove the need to speak face to face, particularly after the recent COVID19 pandemic where lockdowns gave us a taster of a future where we lose face to face interactions altogether.