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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Fifty Three: creating energy through tension > Confrontation, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2008
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Confrontation, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2008
09-JAN-2008

Confrontation, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2008

Look carefully at the body language in this image. Two monks approach the main gate of Cambodia’s Royal Palace. A policeman appears to have stopped them for a moment. Or has he? Perhaps he is just greeting the monks as they pass by. I sense the energy of companionship flowing between the monks, and strengthened it by waiting until they came as closely together as possible. The sliver of negative space between them creates a tension that unifies, rather than divides. There is more negative space between the monks and the policeman, symbolizing the gulf that exists between the secular and spiritual worlds. That gulf also produces a sense of tension. A third monk can be seen walking away in the far distance – the color and outline of his robes links him to the monks in the foreground, yet he is much smaller in scale and there is a large amount of negative space between him and his fellow monks, significantly reducing tension. The two monks in the foreground respond to the abstracted policeman in different ways – one lowers his head in humility, the other turns away with indifference. Both of these expressions intensify the tension in this image.

Leica V-Lux 1
1/500s f/8.0 at 36.0mm iso100 full exif

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Phil Douglis26-Feb-2008 20:35
As you say, Tim, the curves in this image create a gentle relationship. I don't think that your phrase "gentle tension" is an oxymoron either. It think that some tensions can be drawn less tightly than others. This is one of those times. I also agree about the sense of acquiescence as well. The lowered gaze of the monk at left says it all. The policeman represent temporal authority, while the monks seem to exist on a more spiritual plane.
Tim May26-Feb-2008 17:29
Is sense a gentle tension in this one. I think is is created in the quiet curves. The policeman is leaning into the monks and the bag carrying monk seems to be gently acquiescing to the power of the state.
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