The human relationship with the smartphone is an intimate one. The smartphone is a private display in a public space; a one-to-one relationship between person and screen. Even without the anthropomorphization of digital assistants like Siri, an emotional connection exists between user and device. Throughout the day, the user gazes at the phone. Does the phone gaze back? What if it did?

phonelovesyoutoo is an immersive video matrix that captures my cellphone usage over a period of one month. Over 1000 videos from the phone’s front facing camera are tiled across 3 walls. To create the video, I developed an Android application to automatically record video from the front and back camera of the phone every time the phone was in use (when the screen is unlocked). After a month of use, I’d amassed between 30–90 minutes of footage a day with an average of 30 videos today. Most videos are short: less than 30 seconds to respond to an email or fire off a text message. Longer durations result from activities like reading articles and using the GPS to trek across Los Angeles in rush hour.

An excerpt from phonelovesyoutoo: matrix, showing the user's blank look at the phone while she's performing mundane activites

Each tile in the matrix captures habits, expressions, and neuroses. With the face in the frame, there is room for little else, but noticeable differences are present: rumpled hair and puffy eyes in the morning, red lipstick for an evening out, wet hair after a shower. The context changes but the face mostly stays the same: it is a blank expression, a concentrating expression, the kind of vacant look reserved only for glowing screens.

phonelovesyoutoo: matrix was recently exhibit at SFMOMA as part of the Snap + Share exhibition.

See also: phonelovesyoutoo: database and USER_IS_PRESENT.