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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Two worlds, Beijing, China, 2007
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18-SEP-2007

Two worlds, Beijing, China, 2007

The contrasting emotional responses of the bus riders and the people in the advertisement on the outside of their bus are dramatically incongruous. I used this concept during my 2004 visit to China as well you can see it by clicking on the thumbnail below. I am always trying to build on my ideas, and this time around I matched the number of people in the bus window to the number of people in the advertisement. By limiting the number of emotional responses here, the incongruity is more directly expressed.


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Phil Douglis10-May-2008 05:58
Thanks for noting still another incongruity here, Iris -- the role of capitalistic advertising in a communist society. Thanks, too, for seeing this as metaphor for the clash between the old and new ideas (the sleeping passengers contrasted to the dynamic figure in the ad) that are the heart of the convulsive economic changes that are
currently reshaping Chinese society and, indeed, China's economic role in the world.
Iris Maybloom (irislm)10-May-2008 00:17
For me, this image speaks of contemporary China's dual personality....the old ways, the history, the past in contrast to the new China attempting to be very hip. So much of what we experienced in Cnina was the contrast between past and present, old and new, age and youth. This image is clearly a metaphor for the social and economic changes taking place in this country. In addition, when we think of advertising, communism is not the first thing that comes to mind!!! Yet, here we see an advertisement! Another incongruity?
Phil Douglis31-Jan-2008 21:11
This image does raise the question of age-related perspectives on life, Sofia. I would not say that MOST older people are inhibited -- I know many who are just as lively as the people in the ad. But this image does imply that there differing perspectives on life. The people within the bus are actually in the real world. They are probably sleepy, and moving buses can cause anyone, young or old, to nod off. The people in the ad are living in a fantasy world. They are actors, and they are projecting enthusiasm for a product. I wanted each set of people to symbolize different degrees of involvement in life-- the people in the bus are morose, the people outside the bus are excited. As you say, the people inside the bus seem trapped, sealed behind, as you call it, "a prism of their daily unhappy routine." The couple in the ad seem carefree, spontaneous, and excited. It is a powerful contrast, and if it makes us stop and think about our own approaches to life, the image will have done its part.
Guest 31-Jan-2008 20:23
Unfortunaltely, most older people suppress that lively part of themselves, and then they become like those two behid the glass. The glass is also significant here, it shows that they look at the world through a prism of their daily unhappy routine. While those young carefree people shout out to all: Be free, don't let hardships enclose you into another, grey world. :) And they are surely right!
Phil Douglis19-Jan-2008 04:59
Yes, Azlin, it is like a twisted before and after shot. That was exactly what I was thinking. Here are these morose people inside the bus -- if only they could just let it all out like the couple on the outside of the bus is doing!
Azlin Ahmad13-Jan-2008 14:56
To me it's a reality v fantasy kind of shot. The couple travelling in the bus with the masses is so detached from the glitzy model couple, they live in separate worlds, but this shot has brought them together, almost as if to accentuate that things may have been different but for an accident of birth. On a different interpretation, it's also like some sort of warped time machine, a twisted "before and after" shot.
Phil Douglis28-Sep-2007 02:27
Henry specializes in this kind of commentary. Such subjects are abundant in China. I agree -- the contrast in attitudes is about as strong as it gets, couple to couple. The only things that link them is the coupling and the proximity. Everything else is different -- attitude, color, degree of vibrance, and directional placement.
Patricia Lay-Dorsey28-Sep-2007 02:04
Great eye and capture, Phil! Of course Henry Ho comes to mind. You have done a fabulous job of contrasting the older, more somber couple in the bus with the younger, grinning couple in the ad on the side of the bus. Your composition is striking, almost like a dipdych. And your title says it all.
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