In 2012, Patryk Karbowski released a book about the first generation to grow up online.
As Patryk Karbowski noted in the text to accompany his photographs, The New Poles depicts middle-class junior high school children. These teenagers, born after 1989, do not recall the turbulent times of the early 1990s, a period without Internet, computers and social media. The photographer started work on this topic after a conversation with his cousin (who was seven years younger), during which he realised that:
We were inhabiting two completely different worlds. That was my stimulus.
The photographer spent many days with his teenage subjects, and was surprised at the extent to which they were overloaded with stimuli. Easy access to entertainment and information – intended to help them learn about the world and have fun – had induced some sort of numbness in them, which led to passivity. The photographer interpreted this as: “Since lots of people are doing something better than you, it inevitably renders you passive”. He managed to capture that state in the photograph above. One of the boys in his book was spending time with his father at their summer house. The boy is lost in thought, gazing into space, seemingly absent. The older man, presumably his father, looks at him with interest, but also certain incomprehension. The soft light falling on the teenager’s face accentuates the contrast between them.
Karbowski took his photographs between 2009 to 2012 and, after publishing his book, he said:
When I look at those pictures, I know they are already outdated, though they still illustrate a certain point in history – in my opinion, an important one.
Originally written in Polish, translated by AG, edited by MB, Dec 2018