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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Commuters, Nanjing Road, Shanghai, China, 2004
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Commuters, Nanjing Road, Shanghai, China, 2004

I couldn't help but notice the difference between the energy levels of the model featured in the iced tea advertisement on the side of this Shanghai bus, and those of the commuters seated just above it. The incongruous juxtaposition of the worlds of advertising and commuting gave me a story-telling image.

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Phil Douglis29-Aug-2006 17:19
Thanks, Chris. Juxtapositions contrasting two opposing ideas is an essential factor in incongruous imagery. I recently posted a separate gallery on this very subject:
Chris Sofopoulos29-Aug-2006 08:33
So smart contrast of the people and the advertisement here Phil.
A story telling picture indeed!
Phil Douglis20-Aug-2006 19:23
Thanks, Han, for linking us to Henry's site. It is probably the most comprehensive study of erotic advertising juxtaposed against oblivious passers-by yet put together on pbase. Well over 1,000 images. I left a long comment on his gallery, and will be referring my own students to this gallery as a resource.
Guest 20-Aug-2006 16:28
Phil, travel here
Henry Ho has a whole bank of this type of image in display
and lots of interesting interplay between the people and ad, image and text
Phil Douglis28-Nov-2005 19:03
Thanks, Chris, for the added thought. I must see some relationship between the people and the poster if this image is to express an incongruity. You are right, of course. They are really just tired and bored and do not even see what we can see. The snub comes from our own imaginations. It is the incongruity between Little Missy's zesty energy and the commuters seeming indifference that makes this image work as expression. Your context has added a new dimension to this picture, whether these people realize it or not.
Chris 28-Nov-2005 09:47
You're welcome. I dont see the bus commuters as snubbing the ad or singer. I think they just tired and want to get home without getting caught in traffic. As for Ah Mei ('Little Missy') her legions of fans across Asia cant get enough of her. Not too bad for someone from a minority hilltribe lass, who are often seen as 'stateless' by China and Taiwan.
Phil Douglis28-Nov-2005 04:42
Your comment is what makes pbase such a fascinating forum, Chris. I made this image with one idea in mind, and now you tell me that the lady reaching for the ice tea is a no-no on mainland China. You have changed the context for us. The commuters are no longer seen as simply disinterested in her plea. Instead, I see them as snubbing her, pretending she is not even there. Yet she continues to sell, never dropping a beat. It becomes a political statement as well as social comment. And all because you have changed our context for this model with this bit of irony. Thanks for doing it.
Chris 28-Nov-2005 04:24
The ultimate irony here is that the model is Taiwanese pop princess singer/actress Chang Ah Mei. After insulting the mainland government by singing the Taiwanese national anthem ( a sign of independence) she and her music was banned on the mainland. Oh well, iced tea ads wont bring in the millions, maybe just half a million.
Phil Douglis24-Aug-2005 19:39
Thanks, Lori, for building this image, at least in your own mind, around the feelings of the commuters. In reality, they have no idea this ad is just below them. But you see both the ad and the commuters, and you choose to speak for them, condemning the condescension and controlling desires of the media machine that produces ads such as this. As Antonio puts it below, "this image is about today, about false dreams and empty values."
Lori Rosen 24-Aug-2005 11:52
It's almost as if the commuters have deliberately turned away from this oversized woman trying to control another of their daily decisions. I can almost hear them saying to themselves "I'll chose my own tea, thank you". I feel that way sometimes, the media manipulation we are bombarded with daily at times feels condescending and controlling. Mostly the artist in me can recognize and appreciate the cleverness of the advertising concepts but it still gets tiring to the eye and soul.
Phil Douglis06-Aug-2005 18:45
Thanks, Qiv. Glad you are working your way through my cyberbook and find this image entertaining. As for it not telling much about Shanghai, that was not my intention. Every image has its own purpose. If I was trying to make an image expressing the essence of Shanghai, I would make quite a different image, offering a sense of place as well as an incongruous relationship. But this was not about a sense of place. It is instead a comment on two different worlds in juxtaposition - the fantasies of advertising vs. the realities of commuting. Glad you enjoyed it.
Guest 06-Aug-2005 15:49
I am working through your cyber book and this shot made me smile immediately. I like it the most, up to now. It is great for loosening a presentation, even though it does not tell much about Shanghai - it could be everywhere.
Phil Douglis15-May-2005 15:57
There are many ways to stress one aspect of an image over another, Sonia. Vantage point can be shifted. You can use selective focusing to stress a given point, making the context softer. You can use optical perspective -- different lenses can have a profound effect on emphasis. Light and shadow can create emphasis. Try these things -- you will be amazed at what you can do.
Guest 15-May-2005 11:37
Hi Phil,

As you've talked about stressing the sign in this picture to make the incongruity more incongruous, I can understand how vantange point helps in this picture. If my contrasting contexts are both of similar sizes, not like the drastic scale difference in this one, how would you choose which subject to emphasize on and use which as the context - as both of the subjects are important.

And if the geographical context wouldn't allow a better vantage point, I wouldn't be able to make a good expressive picture even if the content itself is already incongruous?

Phil Douglis22-Dec-2004 19:43
Good points, Mikel. I see an incongruity between the excited lady grabbing for the tea, and the bored commuters on the bus. It make you reflect on the manipulative and dehumanizing role of advertising in society, which to you at least, has produced these legions of mindless consumers who have no idea that they are now part of the instrument of their own dehumanization.
Guest 22-Dec-2004 19:30
that is the idea that the photo gave me at first too, but if we think a bit criticaly, we can say that the poor comutants as us as well are the victims of marketing and publicity... perhaps their slaves and from there go to two different stories, the first is like a kind of slave caravan controled by publicity and I see the second one as the model of the spot beeng a kind of vampire that with bulicity has suked the soul of the poor commutants.
Phil Douglis09-Dec-2004 19:23
I like the way you re-ordered my words, Antonio. I have stressed the dream, not the value, in my composition.
Antonio Pierre De Almeida09-Dec-2004 05:04
I would say that this picture is all about today, about false dreams and empty values ( same words as you said but given a new sens by placing them in a different order, which brings me to say that it's all about composition and point of view ;-) )
Phil Douglis01-Dec-2004 23:26
You have analyzed this image very well, Clara. It is all about false values and empty dreams.
Guest 01-Dec-2004 19:59
very ironic and truly meaningful. ads portray a kind of exciting life that is not the fact. the real people above show it well.
Phil Douglis07-Nov-2004 23:51
Absolutely, Nut!
nut 07-Nov-2004 17:29
This is the incongruous photograph in term of context and abstract.
Phil Douglis02-Nov-2004 17:23
Glad someone finally got the point the point of this picture, Nut. Thank you.
nut 02-Nov-2004 09:37
Fresh ice tea to be fresh out of sleepness.
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