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L.W. Laptop 2007 (Courtesy of Meggan Gould)

I Screen, You Screen, We All Screen: What Does Your Desktop Say About You?

by Coburn Dukehart
Oct 22, 2012

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Coburn Dukehart

In the course of a 20-minute phone conversation, photographer Meggan Gould referred to herself as "obsessive" four different times. I liked her immediately.

And you would have to be somewhat obsessive to devote years to photographing computer screens. But Gould has a great explanation of why it appeals to her:

"I find myself fascinated with how people build up personal spaces for themselves," she says on the phone, "both on a physical desktop with tangible objects and on a screen with pixel representations of objects. There is a strange public-private tension to it that intrigues me."

Gould studied anthropology and languages as an undergrad, but later switched gears to study photography in grad school at the University of Massachusetts—Dartmouth. She now teaches at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

"The way we use photographs on our screens is fascinating; the background is decorative, but we aren't meant to sit and stare at it," she says. "Our personality is represented in how we maintain the surface, but we don't take it as seriously as our physical space."

Gould started photographing desktops in 2005 and has since taken more than 150 images with a 4x5 view camera. Her methodology isn't exact — she just waits until she sees a computer screen that she finds appealing.

Gould photographs the scenes as she finds them, without manipulating the background in any way.

"I want [people] to look at their own desktop critically," she says. "That's a way they can learn something about themselves."

So what does your desktop say about you?

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