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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Thirty-Five: How style and interpretation combine as expression > Driving blind, Haynes, Arizona, 2006
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Driving blind, Haynes, Arizona, 2006

Driving blind, Haynes, Arizona, 2006

I build my photographic style around symbolism and metaphor. The glass in this junked car is no longer functional. Itís a symbol of blindness. By putting my camera inside the vehicle, I can make the viewer feel blinded as well. My style feeds on implication, and by using the blindness metaphor, I imply that our knowledge of the past determines how we deal with the future. This interpretive image asks us to consider not only where we have been, but also think about where are we going. My photographic style frequently draws on such metaphors, asking questions and demanding answers.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30
1/320s f/5.6 at 7.5mm iso80 full exif

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Phil Douglis20-Aug-2007 02:42
Thank you, Cyndy, for coming to this image. As you know, I was moved by the image you made of a broken windshield as well ( ) . What makes both of these work as expression is the interplay between what is seen and not seen in these windshields. In the case of this image, the glazed window becomes a metaphor for blindness, expressing the need to draw on the past in order to see into the future. In your shattered window, the viewer looks past the green trees of the present and is drawn into an unknown past. I am glad this image encourages you to look more deeply into your own artistic expression as a photographer. I look forward to helping you in any way I can.
Cyndy Largarticha20-Aug-2007 00:15
Phil, thank you for leaving such positive comments on my pbase site and for directing me to this image. I've just begun my journey through your world of artistic work and look forward to the experience and education. This is just wonderful--the textures, the colors, the light. A feast for the senses. Your symbolism and metaphor add layers to what is already an amazing composition. You've inspired me to look deeper into my own artistic expression. Thank you.
Phil Douglis14-Aug-2006 03:36
Thanks, Lucie, for this comment. As you note, my image is somewhat like your own image at in that both places have been abandoned yet the luminous light coming from the other side suggests a sense of hope and life, animating a desolate scene. I am delighted that you find as much to think about in this image as you gave us in your own.
Guest 13-Aug-2006 23:45
This is a very interesting and powerful image! I love the angle, the textures, the light, all that very evokative.
Many thanks for your comment on mine.
I see some similarities between the two, yes. Something abandoned... And the light coming through from the other side...
Phil Douglis07-Jun-2006 05:38
I think it is wonderful that you see this image as a metaphor for historical blindness. I could not agree more with your point of view. "Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them" is an aphorism originally proposed by the philosopher George Santayana. He was right. And this image could be as good a reminder of it as any.
Iris Maybloom (irislm)07-Jun-2006 00:24
If you don't study history, you are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past. As a former history teacher, I am paraphrasing what I repeatedly tried to communicate to my students. Unfortunately, too many chose to close their minds to this truism which, like this window, has clouded their vision and obscured this nation's path. Sadly, the result is that we keep repeating the same mistakes and never learn! Oops, am I supposed to get this political on pbase?????
Phil Douglis02-Jun-2006 06:06
What a beautiful point, Ana! What's wrong with just enjoying an image for how it looks. Leave the meaning for later.
That will come with time. But for now, just sit back and drink in the "raw" image, as you put it. An image to be savored for simply its impact on the senses. Expressive photographs can work at many levels. Some will see this image as a metaphor for self expression. Others may look at it as you do -- as a pair of abstract paintings rich in color and texture. And yes, there may even be automotive types who are still trying to figure out what kind of a vehicle I am shooting here. I welcome all kinds of viewers -- may all of them find good reason for their own journey here.
Ana Carloto O'Shea02-Jun-2006 05:50
I don't know what to say about this one... Sometimes I get a bit clouded in face of things that I particularly like and this is the case. I don't know if the image speaks about time or not, but I find it extremely artistic. The two glasses each one seems to be a painting and that was what really drew me to this photo..
I love the way you've composed the shot, leaving the dashboard imersed in that partial darkness that fits so well with the lighted "surroundings" especially that little bit of red that you've left on the right side of the image.
Yes, I like it a lot, though I cannot really see much beyond the "paintings" there... I guess that the idea of this one promoting a self-refection journey is interesting and it's probabbly in such a way that this image is going to be felt by most. But well, for me it's something more raw in the way that it touched me. It's all about the beauty of colours and textures and this was really the way in which the image sparkled my imagination.. it brought it to the very basics, pretty much like when we are children and we don't really care much about what things are as long as the are beautiful... This is why I talked about "raw" back there, because this way really the power I've felt here.
Simple and true! What could be better??
Phil Douglis25-May-2006 22:50
Thanks, Celia, for echoing the sentiments of Tim and Jenene here. All of you feel the pull of self-reflection, and that was what I was thinking of as I thrust my camera into this car time and time again to make the images leading up to, and including, this one. It is important to make the viewer become the driver here. I never noticed that little clear patch until Tim and Jenene and now you, emphasized its role here. This image does exactly what any expressive photograph should do -- allow room for the viewer's imagination to roam and discover their own truths in the process. You stress intimacy in your comment, and now that you mention it, I would add a sense of intimacy to my own photographic style. I am always looking for ways to bring my viewers eye to eye with my subject. In this case, it's the nearly blind eyes of this car that become our intimate companion on this journey of self reflection.
Cecilia Lim25-May-2006 22:01
I love how intimately you brought us viewers to this car. By looking inside out, you basically allow us to see the world through the eyes of this car. And what we see is akin to a flash of life gone past, symbolically etched into the windows of the car just like an abstract painting. And there in a clear patch of the window lies a vision of what's beyond--the future-- indistinct but is something that we need to figure out ourselves. But that clear patch amidst the darkened surroundings and blurriness does offer us hope and a way out. This brilliant image allows us not only to ponder about the kind of life this car and its owners may have lived, but acts as a catalyst too for us to reflect into our own lives.
Phil Douglis24-May-2006 22:16
Yes, like my friend Tim, you are ever the optimist, Jenene, and it is reflected in how this image has stimulated your imagination. Just as we photograph what we are, and we are what we photograph, we might also say that we mirror ourselves when we read the image of others as well. That is what you are doing here. I wish that was a compass on the dash, but I don't think it is. It looks like a small light of some kind. If it is, it would give you a metaphor of light coming from both directions, a doubly emphatic symbol of what you see as hope and promise.
JSWaters24-May-2006 22:05
I love the optimism (I would) that I get from this image. Not only is the window obscured, it's cracked and seemingly useless to us for navigation. Yet, there is one clear spot, as Tim points out, and I dare say a compass on the dash (?), which offers us the hope of finding our way. Whether we're going toward the future only to arrive with that sore neck, or just making our way through a vexing problem, the light coming through the window signifies hope and promise.
Phil Douglis24-May-2006 01:58
I love your "glass half-full" interpretation, Tim. Yes, I saw the clear patch as well, but I fear any driver would perish from a sore neck well before completing that trip into the future. Thanks for giving this image such thought -- that's why I made it. In a sense, all of us are driving in this car every day -- our future can't be defined. We can only make an educated guess as to what may be in store for us, based on our knowledge of the past.
Tim May24-May-2006 01:36
The past can so often cloud our vision of and to the future - if we live the future just keeps on coming without our driving a course into it - for many of us the trip to the future is blind - but your image offers hope because a part of the window remains clear - a thoughtful driver can still went his or her way into the unknown. A wonderful thought provoking image.
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