Don't Look At This; It's Digital Detox Week : The Picture Show Berlin-based photographer Stephan Tillmans turns off televisions like it's his job.
NPR logo Don't Look At This; It's Digital Detox Week

Don't Look At This; It's Digital Detox Week

If you're reading this you're clearly not taking part in Digital Detox Week, aka Screen-Free Week, which begins today. The initiative promoting more face time and less screen time is the latest incarnation of what, until a few years ago, was called TV-Turnoff Week.

Berlin-based photographer Stephan Tillmans knows a thing or two about turning off televisions — it's how he makes his art. Luminant Point Arrays is a series of photos of old tube televisions taken at the very moment they are switched off.

Each of these images is from a different TV, but according to Tillmans it's also the length of exposure, timing, and time the TV has been running before the photo that accounts for the difference in results. Each image takes a lot of tries, because he's using good old-fashioned trial and error to get the shot.

"I stand between the TV and the camera with one finger on the on/off switch and one finger on the shutter release," he writes in an e-mail. "With some televisions it took about 800 pictures to get THE picture." No wonder he's working with a digital camera.

But then again you shouldn't care. Because you shouldn't be reading this. You should be knitting while climbing a tree or something.