Isolation C9119

Paul Moore

Isolation C9119, 2020.
Digital photography.

Ph credit & courtesy of the artist.


Through this image the artist is sharing his most sincere and personal experience with Covid isolation. This genuine research has to be seen into this unsettling times, where vulnerable people are experiencing physical and mental isolation. Taking care of the other people, especially the oldest generations, is the most responsible and sympathetic gesture that we can have towards our society, but there are some technological obstacles that add their own unique twist to this human story.
This photograph starts to explore this ‘paradox of seeing everything through a lense or screen’, though as an extension of this natural sense. These social media technologies are adjusting the sense of our presence within life with a ‘cool’ perception of reality towards a ‘hot’ notion of visceral connection with the dissociated world around us. (M. McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964).

I took this picture of my granny Jean over a facetime chat with her and my mum, essentially a screenshot of my phone screen.

Jean is 91 and is suffering from dementia, my mum has been caring for her for over a year now. As the illness is getting worse it has been a real struggle.
Through this period of Covid Isolation, there is less support and contact with other people and I suppose the contact with Jean both mentally and physically is decreasing.Jean has been shouting and weeping a lot and it’s hard to have a conversation with her.
On the other side, she can be quite lucid but that is rapidly fading.

I find this image a hunting portrait of Jean’s personal isolation, mentally and from her family who can only visit through a mobile device. With her failing sight and hearing she can’t really see or hear us and it confuses her more. Jean doesn’t really understand the technology and she struggles sometimes to recognise you through the screen and to understand where you are. She gets upset because she thinks you have left when the screen is turned off and that people don’t come to visit her because ‘they don’t love her’.

Within the action of taking the photo, I started thinking about the practice of portrait photography in the traditional sense of being present with the sitter, experiencing and capturing their physical presence in the world. Here there is a distance both physically and mentally both myself and Jean are talking with someone you know so well but just are not there.

Just after this image was taken, my mum got the chance to talk about this on BBC Ulster. [P.M.]

Paul Moore is a British/Irish artist based in Belfast.

Moore holds an Ma in Art Research and Collaboration from Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, and a BA Hons in Multimedia/Interactive Art from the University of Wales, Newport. 

Selected shows include: Unsettlement, Platform Arts Gallery, Belfast 2017. G R O U P S H O W, Golden Thread Gallery Belfast, 2016. Statəcraft, Irish Museum of Modern Art Project Space, Dublin, 2016. lorem ipsum, Atypical Gallery Belfast, 2015. Palace Revolution, Galveston Arts Centre, Texas U.S.A. 2014.

As an artist he is interested in the social, geographical and technological landscape that we have created; how we function and interact with one another using digital media, and how we, both theoretically and anthropomorphically, use technology and our environment as an extension of our being(s).

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