This photo series has been circulating around the web recently. It has been described as a series portraying children’s vacant stares at the TV, but honestly they don’t look so vacant to me. Instead, they look absorbed. Completely absorbed, the kind of surrender only kids can express. And while the series has been used to open up the never ending talks and questions regarding too much technology – to which we never seem to find an answer or at least not one that we’d like to adjust our life to – I loved these photos for completely different reasons. Photographer Donna Lee Stevens named the series ‘Idiot Box’, but to me the name doesn’t suit the photos.
I am one of those kids who watched Twin Peaks at age 8 and lived. It was soon after the revolution (1989, Romania), the western media coming through our TVs was new and exciting and no one had any concept of what’s appropriate or not for kids. Plus, Twin Peaks was pretty subtle, no real gore there, so it seemed fine.
To me it’s not watching TV that is troubling, it is what’s on the side of that or the lack of something on the side that makes the difference. Books, friends, time out, time to think. The ability to live outside of what you see.
The kids in Donna Steven‘s photos are like sponges. They absorb and are absorbed by what they see on TV. But that’s not neccessarly bad. What I love about the photos is their complete innocence and off guard moment. There’s something special and intimate in paying attention to such a state of mind, it is actually something very much alive, a state of openness.
If you’re worried about ‘young people these days’ watching too much TV, there photos don’t prove or point to a problem. They point to the beauty of a kid’s heart and its capacity to completely live in the moment.
I found the photos here.
All photos © Donna Lee Stevens