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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Roots at the door, Angkor, Cambodia, 2000
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Roots at the door, Angkor, Cambodia, 2000

Scale incongruity takes over this image, as the giant roots of a Banyan tree slowly devour an ancient temple at Ta Prohm, near the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Kodak DC4800
1/90s f/3.4 at 9.1mm full exif

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Phil Douglis03-Dec-2010 19:29
Indeed, Vera. If we backed up to show the whole tree and more of the temple, the image becomes only a description of the subject, rather than an expression of an idea. And that is what expressive photography really is all about -- finding an essence by abstracting the subject and leaving room for the viewer's imagination to embrace the rest of it.
veraferia03-Dec-2010 13:42
This image is unforgetable! I agree with you "less can certainly say more".
Phil Douglis02-Oct-2005 04:01
And you've only seen a very small portion of that tree here, Lisbeth. Less can certainly say more~
Lisbeth LandstrÝm01-Oct-2005 21:34
I have heard of meat-eating plants but temple-eating is new to me :-). I would have loved to see a film of the last 100 years played in 15 seconds - of this very spot. Given that the temple is still here with so many branches wrapped so nicely around it my guess is that the film could also give impression of protection. Even if it is obvious that "the will" of a plant has indeed taken over here.
Phil Douglis23-Aug-2005 17:59
I like the way you put the shoe on the other foot here, Ramma. Instead of nature destroying the work of man, it protects it. It all depends upon our own interpretation, doesn't it?
Ramma 23-Aug-2005 08:57
At first glance, it seemed to me as if the Tree was protecting the Temple. We as people always like to take care of our precious belongings. In this case, it seems that as if over the centuries, the Tree has started taking care of and protecting the ancient Temple.
Phil Douglis28-May-2005 00:18
I like the way you read this image, Jing. And thanks for the excellent question, as well. There are two primary classifications of incongruity. Subject incongruity and perceptual incongruity. This is image is subject incongruity -- the incongruity is in the subject itself. All I did was to photograph it. And then there is perceptual incongruity, where the incongruity rests in how we make the camera itself alter our perception of the subject, thereby making it incongruous. Scale incongruity is a good example of perceptual incongruity, but it could also be a factor in subject incongruity as well -- as it is here. In this gallery, you will see a number of examples of both kinds of incongruity. Hope this helps, Jing.
Jing 27-May-2005 20:50
I have always loved photo of Cambodia where roots cover temples. It is as if it is testiment man and nature should live together and share the world (or immediate world).

I have a question about Incongruity. I have seen this photo and some others where you point out "scale" incongruity. I saw some other incongrity in other photos (like incongruity of chap sleeping while he should be guarding his store items). How many type of incongruity are there?
Benchang Tang 23-Mar-2005 12:59
Here you crop the bottom or the threshold off to put more weight on the Banyan tree, am I right? Thanks!
Guest 19-Jan-2005 19:13
it looks like it's straight out of a fairytale.
Phil Douglis23-Dec-2004 20:43
You raise an interesting about this image, Mikel. To many viewers, this image will stimulate thoughts of those who built this monumental ancient city. I am sure very few of them envisioned its eventual fate. The arrogance of man blinds him to the realities of the future. All things change with time. They are created, live, and eventually die. This place, long forgotten, today stands as not only a monument to the past, but as evidence of what may await our own civilization. The incongruity of nature's overwhelming strength is both fascinating and terrifying.
Guest 23-Dec-2004 17:38
I've seen several shots of Angkor and it alwais facinated me the mighty roots sorrounding the temple that at it's same time looks huge. In this case it gives me the feeleng that man's sobervia has been overcomed by the mighty power of nature. I wonder if the inhabitants of their place wold have ever though that their mighty capital wold desapear in such a manner.
Phil Douglis02-Dec-2004 04:10
Again, Clara, you grasp the essence of Angkor's fascination. It's temples are inseparable from their environment.
Guest 01-Dec-2004 23:51
however, the trees engrandize the temple like part of it, like an ornament. the temple's identity includes those trees.
Phil Douglis06-Nov-2004 19:34
You are right, Nut. There is also a message here about the enduring power of nature vs. the temporary power of man.
nut 06-Nov-2004 10:16
Ending man-made, Growing roots
Scale incongruity told me how big of this roots and it also give me more deeper idea about
the different life time of nature and man-made.
Phil Douglis12-Mar-2004 19:03
You are right, Bruce -- there is much meaning in the detail and the patterns here. However what makes this image work is the contrast between the massive scale of the plant material and the smaller man-made artifacts it embraces.
Guest 12-Mar-2004 04:39
I love all the detail, man and nature - it's in the stonework and in both the large and small patterns of the roots.
Denise Dee04-Nov-2003 23:26
stunning! I voted for this one. thanks, denise
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