For many, our technology filled world elicits anxiety over an almost total lack of privacy. Constant cellular geotagging and deep data mining can surrender an incredible amount of information that tells prying eyes where we are and what we’re thinking about. But even if we abandon technology in preference of a digitally clean life, we’ll always leave traces of ourselves behind and sometimes in disconcerting ways. In Stefan Kuhn’s series, “Hidden Messages” he explores the lives of people we’ll never know by revealing the clues they thoughtlessly left behind.

Stefan’s photographs feature rubbings of hotel note pads where the fictional previous guest had written a memo that was torn away. But thanks to a little archeological knowhow, we can see what they took the time to doodle, note, or write to companions with a little rubbing of a pencil. The messages offer a taste of a story, inspiring the imagination to take over and fill in the blanks. For each of the images, there is no literal story, but Stefan makes space for us to create the stories ourselves, peering into an imagined past.

“Hidden Messages” won an Honorable Mention at the Prix de la Photographie Paris, adding yet another win to the long list of rewards Stefan Kuhn has earned over his career.

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