Eye Posture is a striking photographic series – created by student Chris Rand, to raise awareness of the ill posture that New York City commuters maintain habitually while looking at their cell phones. This series emphasizes the risks of the behavior that people willingly participate in for an average of 2.8 hours per day during their daily commute.
[Smartphones] have negative consequences on the health of some 4 billion cellphone users in the world.
The idea for the project came to Chris when he was observing runners and cyclists who maintained ill posture while engaging in those activities. However, he decided to switch his attention to a common occurrence that he witnessed on his daily commute, and that he himself was engaged in quite often. “Many of us have observed how people sit or stand when they stare at their phones, and are aware that it’s not right. But then, we turn down to our own hand-held screens, and end up in that same posture,” said Chris. With that in mind, he wanted to bring attention to this silent behavior with eye-catching graphics that express what spine surgeons and occupational therapists say has negative consequences on the health of some 4 billion cellphone users in the world.
He wanted to develop vivid images of this behavior so that he could supplement the bland images that are currently being circulated by chiropractors and occupational therapists.
The weight of the average person’s head increases from 10 pounds to 60 pounds when the chin drops down by about 60 degrees.
To educate himself further of the health risks caused by such ill posture, Chris researched studies related to the subject matter. He came across findings by Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, a surgeon at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine. Dr. Hansraj created a computer model to simulate the amount of strain that people put on their spines when they lower their chin towards the chest for extended amounts of time (scientifically known as neck flexion). He found that the weight of the average person’s head increases from 10 pounds to 60 pounds when the chin drops down by about 60 degrees. This added weight, when prolonged, is what leads to consistent neck and back pain.
Using images of public-transportation commuters, Chris created visuals to show how much more weight is added to one’s head, depending on the angle at which they are looking at their phone. He stated, “By viewing these images and numbers, I hope that commuters will realize that an action as trivial as looking at one’s cell-phone can have grave effects on one’s health.”
[These graphics] would be a ergonomic means to educate multitudes of New Yorkers on how to maintain better posture, thereby taking better care of their backs.
In order to specifically educate subway commuters, Chris formatted his imagery/message in the graphic style used by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) of New York City for their Courtesy Counts ads. Posting these graphics on the MTA platforms and in the subway cars would be a ergonomic means to educate multitudes of New Yorkers on how to maintain better posture, thereby taking better care of their backs.
Chris hopes his imagery will circulate throughout social media and printed advertisements to communicate this subject back to the 77% of Americans who use smartphones.
Moving forward, Chris will research the physical consequences of prolonged neck flexion in young children and teenagers, who are experiencing symptoms that adults have in their 30s. Through more imagery, he hopes to convey alternative postures and stretches that will be simple solutions to neck, shoulder and head pain.
Chris’ biggest success during the project was to not participate in the posture he was observing. Instead, he used his phone less and was rewarded a few times by unexpectedly seeing people he knew during the commute - a true serendipity that can occur when not absorbed in screen-time.