Today, Banksy updated his website with a new work depicting two lovers who gaze into their respective cell phone screens, mid-embrace. It’s a clever if unsubtle comment on the ways we use technology to mediate social interaction, and it looks a lot like an Atlantic magazine cover from 2012.
The image, for a story titled “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?“, also shows lovers hugging while distracted by a tiny, glowing screen — except this time, they’re shirtless and only the man has his phone out. Coincidence? Likely. But look at that composition, and the way the phones illuminate the characters faces’ in that cold, blue, Facebook-y light.
Both Banksy’s and the Atlantic’s images make the same facile point — our constant “connectedness” is either getting in the way of actual human connection — but one is a commercial photo used to sell magazines and the other is the work of an internationally famous street art superstar. It’s hard to imagine Atlantic photog Phillip Toledano‘s work fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.
In other Banksy news, an unconfirmed piece that looks a lot like the artist’s handiwork popped up in Cheltenham, UK, home of the Government Communications Headquarters, Britain’s answer to the NSA (the “mobile lovers” piece has not yet been located). Apropos of the location, the Cheltenham piece shows three men, conspicuously dressed in trench coats, fedoras, and sunglasses, surveilling a telephone booth with microphones and satellite dishes.
“This is the first time we have ever been asked to comment on art,” a GCHQ spokesperson said of the Cheltenham piece. “Although we are not qualified critics, we are as intrigued as the rest of the residents of Cheltenham about the appearance of the mysterious artwork.”
(Bottom image: Andrew Gallagher)