Screen lives: Matthew Pillsbury

by Alessandro Trabucco


The images from the Screen lives series by the american photographer, but born and grown in France, Matthew Pillsbury, present everyday activities that associate most of the people in almost entirely the globe, without so much differencies of origins, religion, social or cultural statement.

Nighttime images in black and white capture a particular moment that it would be of relax as while working. “Screen lives” in different dimensions, from lcd TV monitor to notebook or to smartphone, they light up, by a almost blinding, the surronding space and they are the one truth source of light to make visible other objects and other possible presences.

Pillsbury explains this series of photographies with a simple statistic, relating the result of a report in which it supports how many times a middle class american person spends face to TV monitor.

If it is rare, continues Pillsbury, to read the same books or to visit the same exhibitions o to see the same films, instead of TV programmings are the one experience that we really share. The most troubling aspect, for the american photographer, are the additional hours that we spend face to luminescent screens, over that of TV, and this subject is what has made possible this evocative and charming photographic research.

In this images the human presence become a vanishing and spectral figure, bodies faint and acquire disturbing transparencies, as they are spirits coming from another dimension.

Minimal and repetitive actions, rituals that reveal habits and manias, existential mechanisms that involve neurosis and paranoias, in quest of something conforting, that gives a sensation of fulfillment and of integrity.

The most interesting part of these photographies is with any doubt the absolut leading role of the electric light issued from the flat screens of the technologic devices that they have totally invaded our daily life, they become out-and-out artificial limbs (mental, visual, physical) throughout them to communicate with outside world and by way of them, maybe, to give a sense to all various activities that they let achieve.

Matthew Pillsbury fulfills in that way a set of samples both various but both well codified in its main features, portraing different situations all over the world but submitting a life model adjusted to habits more and more spread and popular, offering as a strong identification sign of each image the radiate power of electric light, that cancels all the figures present inside the light, brightening with its flashes the surrounding obscurity.


Matthew Pillsbury, Tanya and Taj, CSI Miami, November 25th 2002 10-11 pm

 Pillsbury - Or Not Magazine

In this image the domestic scene is composed by the dominant presence of the light issued from the TV monitor. Background, the illuminated skyline of the city acts as a shining counterbalance, luminous dots scattered in the space as they are many illuminated rooms in which it is happening the same situation: a couple (but it may be whole families, as lonely person, or even devices lighted on, and unnoticed, in a abandoned room) confortably sitted on a leather sofa seeing the episode of a particular TV series. But these presences are always evoked but never well shaped, on the contrary, the long shootings made by the photographer determine a sort of removal of all that is changeable or in continuos motion. In this way it is the light who is the real subject valued from the photographer, an energetic emission that designs geometric structures often defined in irregular and chaotic sets as they may be, normally, the lived places.


Photo credits:
Matthew Pillsbury
Courtesy Benrubi gallery, New York

1 | Alli & Deirdre Lord, Christine Matheis, et al.; The Bachelorette, February 4th, 2004
2 | Calum and Erica, Grey’s Anatomy & Solitaire, Friday, September 22nd, 2006, 9:48-10:58 pm
3 | Calvin Trillin, The Sopranos, Sunday, November 17, 2002, 9-10:55 pm
4 | George Spencer, Seducing the Babysitter, Tuesday, April 1, 2003, 11-12 am
5 | Howard Fishman, Yankee vs Red Sox, November 13, 2003
6 | John Bennette, American Idol, Tuesday, April 27th, 2004, 8-9 pm
7 | Mary Anderson, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Friday, August 29, 2003, 3-4 pm
8 | Full moon rising over Beaver Bay, Monday May 23rd 2005, 9:52 -10:46 pm
9 | Nathan Noland, Grand Hyatt Tokyo, CNNJ, Tuesday February 7th 2005, 5:08 — 5:23 am
10 | On the Roof, Wednesday April 5th, 8:36-9:04 pm
11 | Nate, Matthew and Ella at the Pink Cove, Thursday May 29th 2008, 9:11-9:22 pm
12 | Self-portrait watching Alias, October 19th, 2003, 9-10 pm
13 | Sudoku above Hollywood, Friday September 22nd 2006, 8:39 — 9:06 pm
14 | Tanya and Taj, CSI Miami, November 25th 2002 10-11 pm
15 | Tim Karr, Wednesday February 26th 2003, 7-8 pm

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