Texting Syria is an installation exploring the experience of Syrian refugees in the context of connectivity in the digital age. In these portraits, Syrians in Lebanon fleeing the civil war back home use mobile phones to stay in touch with their families who remain under siege in the city of Homs. A mundane and ubiquitous act — checking or sending a text message — is transformed by war into communiqués that can be a matter of life and death.
Viewers are invited to connect to a remote SMS server that streams — directly to the viewer’s phone — a series of actual text messages that were received at the time the photographs were taken. In these messages, we get a glimpse of how technology can help people sustain their courage and dignity while caught in a horrific war.
My goal is to create an immersive experience that offers viewers a degree of intimacy often missing from media coverage of this enduring international crisis, which has claimed the lives of over 200,000 people to date and displaced millions. My work aims to question the expectations we have of documentary photography and considers parallel narratives that images alone cannot adequately represent.
Texting Syria is part of a larger ongoing body of work titled Material Remains, a multilayered interactive project about the plight of Syrian refugees and the traces that war leaves behind. Incorporating thermal imaging portraits, SMS messaging, lightboxes, video projections and audio narratives, Material Remains examines the Syrian conflict in ways that move beyond conventional methods of examining war. It is an attempt to compile a multi-sensory body of irrefutable evidence that archives the experiences of those who have lost everything in the Syrian war.