Self-tracking sounds like science fiction, but wearable technology has made it a fact of life. Travis Hodges captures the shift with a new series, The Quantified Self
“I’m fascinated by our changing relationship with technology,” says 33-year-old photographer Travis Hodges. “I began to explore this in my project about Twitter, Follow Me, which looks at how social media influences the way we build and maintain relationships. The Quantified Self came about as a result of my research into the new ways we are using technology. I noticed the growth of wearable technology and decided to turn my camera towards the people who are embracing this data-driven future.”
Hodges’ project includes a wide range of people using self-tracking in many different ways; in each case he’s carefully lit and shot the person involved, and combined these portraits with charts of their data. One image shows a man recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes who uses technology to track his blood sugar levels, for example; another a weight lifter who has been digitally recording his progress for three years.
“The growth of smartphones, apps and wearable tracking devices has made it possible for anyone to gather and use data about an area of their lives,” says Hodges. “I wanted to convey three elements: first and foremost the motivation for self-tracking, what people gain from it; second, the data that is collected; and third, how technology is driving the growth of self-tracking. I’m particularly interested in how technology shifts from science fiction to fact and then becomes a ‘necessary’ part of our lives.”
Alex, the diabetic, is shown with a “faraway expression” on his face, for example, because he told Hodges he is often accused of staring into space as he mentally calculates the carbs he is eating and the amount of insulin he will therefore need to take. “Photographing him in this introspective moment seemed to capture the feeling of otherness where data and person connect,” says the photographer, who is based in London.
This particular project is now finished, but Hodges plans to keep going with similar themes, exploring how science and technology are changing individual lives and the world around us. “Photography is how I explore the world, so a project such as this is not made with a pre-planned message,” he says. “It is the result of my journey of discovery and learning.”
Stay up to date with stories such as this, delivered to your inbox every Friday.