No other nation in the world has as many Internet users as China – more than 600 million. However, with this new technology, now accessible at home, at work, in cybercafés and on the go through mobile devices, has also come a troubling tendency towards addiction. Jacked in to network gaming, sometimes days at a time, the addicts end up with severely damaged family relationships and social networks. Sometimes they even die.
Fernando Moleres (1963, Bilbao) documented a facility geared towards treatment for Internet addiction, with patients ranging from 12-year-old adolescents to adults in their thirties. This program, started by Tao Ran, a colonel in the People’s Liberation Army and a psychiatrist specializing in addictions, combines psychological and medical treatment along with strict military training. Though addiction itself is nothing new, the introduction of new technologies has a variety of new impacts, which we must learn through experience, and we find ourselves sometimes surprised at the extreme and unexpected consequences. Moleres’s dramatic images illuminate the growing field of understanding what it means to lose ourselves within machines.