The physical gestures that make up our interactions with touch-screen personal devices are intensely intimate, yet abstract signatures of our everyday browsing and messaging patterns. In his ‘While you are surfing’ photographic series, Arslan Sukan scans the surfaces of smartphones and manipulates the resulting images in Photoshop to isolate and enhance the fingerprints, dust and cracks marking the screens. Sukan separates the intimate swipes and taps of screen navigation from any digital content, enlarging the marks to form anonymous and abstract landscapes. Printed on highly reflective metallic paper using an inkjet printer, each piece mirrors the context of its place of display, transforming the physical world and the body of the viewer into virtual content for the image surface. But, unlike fingers on a screen, the reflections leave no physical trace on their object.
With ‘While you are surfing’, Sukan questions whether our experiences with the digital world, which are mediated through a screen, are any less immediate or complete than our encounters with experiences in physical world. ‘While you are surfing’ continues Sukan’s engagement with the role of artifice in presenting the real. Through a process that moves from the physical world to digital and back again, his work dissolves distinctions between matter and thought, gesture and image. This ongoing translation of material from one media format into another challenges viewer expectations at every turn.