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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Seventeen: Memories in Metal and Stone: How monuments, sculpture, and tombs express ideas. > The Spire, Dublin, Ireland, 2004
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The Spire, Dublin, Ireland, 2004
26-AUG-2004

The Spire, Dublin, Ireland, 2004

O'Connell Street is at the very heart of The Republic of Ireland's capital. Splitting it right down the middle is The Dublin Spire, the tallest structure in the city. Popularly known as "The Spike," the structure is the world's tallest sculpture. It was completed in 2003, replacing Lord Nelson's Pillar, which was blown up by the IRA. The Spire was a highly controversial project, primarily because of its four million Euro cost, and its lack of a viewing platform. Yet many Dubliners feel that it has the potential to become Ireland's version of the Eiffel Tower. I symbolize this controversy by dramatically slicing the picture into two parts. The barrel distortion of the 24mm wideangle converter lens on my Canon G5 also helps make this point by tilting the buildings towards the spire, almost as if the different sides of the street were arguing with each other

Canon PowerShot G5
1/1250s f/4.0 at 7.2mm full exif

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Phil Douglis01-Mar-2005 03:32
Thanks, Dandan, for rethinking this image. I hope you learned a lot from this exercise -- if we are to express ideas in our pictures, we must organize our images around the idea we are expressing, not the shape of the subject itself. I was thinking controversy all the way here, a community divided in half. So that's the way I composed the picture. Horizontally. Not as a vertical just because the spire itself was vertical.
Dandan28-Feb-2005 15:10
Phil, I think I understand now. You used horizontal frame to including more the surround structure to emphasis the controversial spire. The spire is not the main context you would to show; the controversy is the main story behind.
Phil Douglis27-Feb-2005 03:59
Your questions are wonderful, Dandan, and you are more than welcome to criticize my work if you think you have constructive suggestions for improvement. I am using the principle of "Counter-Framing" here to make the Spire look even taller than it is. I will often frame vertical subjects in a horizontal context. It often creates incongruity. Here it creates even greater scale incongruity because of wideangle angle distortion. I center the subject, something I normally don't do because it can lead to static imagery. But in this case, I split the image in half because, as I said in my commentary, I wanted to imply controversy and argument. And that's the story here. If I used a vertical format, that idea would not have worked. Does that help answer your question, Dandan?
Dandan03-Feb-2005 10:09
Phil, if I saw a tall structure like this, I probably will rotate my camera to vertical immediately; but I see you shooting horizontal… what is the reason behind? I understood that you want to include the surrounding street to add incongruities, but even with the vertical format, you could still include the streets and the tip of the spire, isn’t it?
I am not criticizing this picture, it just such a great way to learning by asking you these questions…
Phil Douglis26-Sep-2004 01:46
That's why I took this shot, Bruce. The Spike is completely out of place in this old Dublin street. And I made it look even more surrealistically incongruous by using the barrel distortion of my 24mm wideangle converter lens to bend the buildings. As for James Bond, I am not so sure of the welcome he would get in the Republic of Ireland. Remember, Bruce, Lord Nelson himself used to sit atop a pillar on this very spot. His head is now in a local museum.
bruce berrien25-Sep-2004 20:06
! The Spike differs so much from its surroundings - it almost appears to be more of a PhotoShop illustration than a photograph! Or perhaps a still from a futuristic movie with superior special effects - the next James Bond film, perhaps? Featuring Phil Douglis as the indominatable British agent, using a camera made by Q?
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