photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Double Take, Miami Beach, Florida, 2013
previous | next

Double Take, Miami Beach, Florida, 2013

This vintage limousine, generally parked in front of a Miami Beach hotel, draws attention to itself (and its owners) in several incongruous ways. It dates back to another era, and is painted a bright yellow. A scruffy man with a cigarette hanging from his lips and a rumpled fedora upon his head, stares at us from its driverís seat. Tourists stop to pose for pictures with the car and its incongruous driver, yet the driver never acknowledges them. Is he a street performer, or is he a mannequin? By moving in to stress the man, rather than the car itself, I dare my viewers to answer that question.

Panasonic LUMIX G5
1/800s f/7.1 at 175.0mm iso160 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis06-May-2018 18:47
Thanks, Merri, for linking this image to the "Uncanny Valley" hypothesis discussed on Wikipedia at

I can see why this hypothesis came to mind when you saw this incongruous image of mine. And I agree that the sickly complexion of the character in the drivers seat can make some of us feel a bit queasy or even fearful. I agree with you on this one -- I found this work of automotive street-art to be deliberately unpleasant, but just as you say, I enjoyed the ride anyway! I plead guilty to using this kind of unpleasant subject matter now and then in my imagery. I am drawn to it because I enjoy jolting my viewers into an incongruous awareness of their own fears and prejudices. For example, this figure may seem quite threatening to some. It not only looks unsavory and perhaps evil -- it does not look real. I move in on it, removing supporting context. When I do this, it becomes even more disquieting.

When we see someone who looks like this, we may be put off, or even frightened at first, and when we realize it is not a real person, we may laugh at how easily we were fooled. In other words, we are treated to a "double-take."
Merri 05-May-2018 21:48
I've done several double-takes (pun intended) on this photograph while working through Gallery 2. The visual details of the driver provide a realistic 3-D depth, but the observer _immediately_ notices the off-color of "his" skin tone. It is unavoidable and simultaneously off-putting. For me, that's the biggest incongruity of this photograph. There is a concept that I think brings some value to this and several other photographs I've seen in your galleries. It is called "Uncanny Valley". Wikipedia has a very good entry on it. Basically, we are drawn to figures that seem human, but if those figures provide visual feedback to our brains that they are 'wrong' somehow, it repels us. In this case, the "man's" skin tone makes him look sick which would trigger our "pathogen avoidance" cognitive mechanism. Like most everyone else, Uncanny Valley makes me uncomfortable, but it's a cognitive roller-coaster I like riding ;-)
Type your message and click Add Comment
It is best to login or register first but you may post as a guest.
Enter an optional name and contact email address. Name
Name Email
help private comment