Peter Davis shows how we're all captivated by white light

Were you aware that the average person checks their phone at least 150 times a day and 80% of us check our phones during conversation with friends. These are just two of the stats accompanying the new exhibition Zeitgeist at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.

Peter Davis is a prize-winning contemporary ļ¬gurative painter documenting our relationship with technology in an increasingly digitised world. His portraits cleverly explore the huge role we allow our smartphones, iPads, video games, headphones and VR headsets to take in our lives. Not only focusing on younger kids either, everyone one of us has some form of new media tucked away in our bags, on the sofa or at work. They are as common as a toaster or kettle in the home - and we have more of them too.

Stormfax in 'Kiss Me First'
We are completely captivated with our phones and other devices, so much so that when I went to visit the exhibition a young woman sat down in the gallery and got out her phone whilst waiting for her friend. How on point is that. She is a living version of one of the portraits sat on the wall right in front of her. 

All of this is happening right now. What would you think if you knew that by 2045 we'll be plugging our brains into computers and living in a simulated world. Well we're actually beginning to see signs of this now. If you've heard of Channel 4's new programme 'Kiss Me First' it tells the story of a young girl whose mother has recently died so she takes further refuge in a fantastically fictional VR world where she takes on another identity called Stormfax to forget her real-life problems just for a few hours every night.

Are these portraits heralding the beginning of a new age in VR. I believe so. Davis has perfectly captured the looks on the faces as each participant engages with their chosen device. The white light shining so intently onto their faces. A lady sits in her chair reading on a Kindle with a glass of wine in the evening. The hi-tec video gamer complete with VR headset and the two young boys sat together huddled around their iPads listening with their headphones on. 

It's our way of life now. How many of these people do we know. Everyone, including ourselves. My mum reads the latest novels on her iPad and Kindle. My husband's friends love playing on the Xbox and I know they'll have the latest smartphone model. My mother-in-law has an Apple watch to track her fitness and see messages instantly. More impressively my nephew learnt how to use an iPad when he was just a toddler. I often ask myself what we did before all this technology. But it's second nature to everyone now. And what will our futures look like with even more of it in our lives... I reckon Peter Davis will be able to show us.

On until 28th April

Warrington Museum & Art Gallery
Museum Street
Cultural Quarter
Warrington, WA1 1JB


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