The series Surface Tension by Tabitha Soren encourages us to see our relationship with everyday technology in unexpected ways, highlighting the marks we leave on glass screens, which we routinely ignore or erase. The subjects pictured beneath the surface record our culture while the marks left by our fingerprints record our lives, our flitting attentions. They map how we spend our time.

Using an 8-by-10 large-format camera, Soren shoots iPad screens under a raking light to reveal the tactile trail we leave behind. The science of touch makes clear that humans need to connect with the physical world, yet we spend an increasing amount of time satisfying only our sense of sight while touching the cold impervious surfaces of technological devices. In this image, Soren is making a connection between the touch on the screen and women’s efforts to touch power in the political sphere through marches, voting, and protests. Soren’s works are both painterly and resolutely photographic. They subvert the whole notion of a façade by bringing emotional depth to the surface and a mournful beauty to specular politics. 

Tabitha Soren (born 1967, San Antonio) is an artist and Peabody Award–winning journalist, best known for her work with MTV News. Her photographs are held in many private and public collections, including those of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; New Orleans Museum of Art; George Eastman Museum, Rochester, New York; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, California; Cleveland Museum of Art; Oakland Museum of California; and Pier 24, San Francisco. Soren lives and works in Berkeley, California.