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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Twenty Six : Using reflections to transform reality > Corporate beehives, Phoenix, Arizona, 2007
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Corporate beehives, Phoenix, Arizona, 2007

While walking through the center of downtown Phoenix, I noticed reflections in downtown office buildings that transformed other buildings into symbolic beehives.
A beehive is, of course, a place of industry. It is where a product is created. I thought it made a perfect metaphor for a corporate structure. Not only is the beehive replicated on glass -- it is also reflected on the polished granite facing between the floors of glass windows. My camera position and the angle of the sun combine to create an image that is utterly surreal and ultimately appropriate.

Leica D-Lux 3
1/500s f/6.3 at 25.2mm iso100 full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
Phil Douglis11-May-2007 04:04
I love your observations, Carol -- I can see the birds here, as well as I can see those bees. You are right about the lines of the building itself -- they give order to the shimmering reflections and unify them into a system. And that is what the corporate world does as well.
Carol E Sandgren11-May-2007 03:14
This may sound ridiculous but I see, instead of a beehive, a birdhouse with all the separate little holes for the individual birds. Like a bird condominium, or sorts. Each to his or her own, and in the corporate world that this building suggests, each doing something different to perhaps compete for business and win over clients instead of working together. I love that the reflection is distorted differently in the various areas of the window, some small, some large but all are connected by the line of the building, as if adhering to system.
Phil Douglis09-May-2007 00:43
You make a good point about the metaphorical role of the blue sky here, Charu. Even the most confining of spaces can be endured if we take the time to look outside and see infinity.
Guest 08-May-2007 16:28
it takes a sharp eye and mind to spot this and make so much meaning out of this... fascinating image! the redeeming feature for me in this image is the bit of blue on top. every cubbyhole still has a sky on top if we only bother to look out, look up once in a while!
Phil Douglis01-May-2007 23:15
Your sentiments echo those of Ceci, Iris. I did intend this image as a social comment, and what you saw in the image is quite evident to me. It is interesting that you speak of the gap between rich and poor. Only a few few feet from where I made this image, there were numerous homeless people sitting on benches in a city park. All around them are buildings that they would never be allowed to even enter, let alone work in. So yes, this image speaks of the haves and have nots in our society.
Iris Maybloom (irislm)01-May-2007 23:03
Reflected and distorted in this steel, granite, and glass corporate behemoth are the beehives, the cubbyholes, home to the industrious worker bees from whom these powerful corporate giants exact their wealth. The image of these small, redundant, distorted beehives vis-a-vis the powerful, intractable vertical and horizontals of the corporate structure speaks to me of inequality and the widening gap between rich and poor in this country.
Phil Douglis01-May-2007 21:26
Thanks, Ceci, for seeing so much in this image. As usual, my pictures seem to inspire political and social ideas in your mind. And that is exactly why I made this image as I did. I want my viewers to think about economic power and control. I saw the facades and horizontals as expressing a corporate mindset, rather than religious and national fanaticism. The beehives can speak of culture, but they also symbolize work, which is what goes on here. Glad you see so much in it.
Phil Douglis01-May-2007 21:21
Don't ever be sorry about changing somebody elses image, Jenene, into your own vision. A photograph should only be a starting point, not an end in itself. How an image triggers your own imagination determines its expressive effectiveness. If I use that as a measuring stick, this image is very successful. It does what I wanted it to do -- help you make your own work of art out of it, in your own mind.
Guest 01-May-2007 20:13
This is the sort of photo to make me strain to refocus my eyes, but in a good way; it's totally clear but at the same time, gives a feeling of objects reflected in water with accompanying distortions and plasticity, while the mind knows precisely that this is a cityscape, with a distinctly middle eastern flavor made by the "beehive" openings. The perpendicular facade and slanted horizontals speak of monolithic mind sets and power, of barricades, of intractably indivisible and fanatical thinking, while the "hive" cutouts in their warm sand color talk to me more of spirit, art and culture. Because the hives are in the background, it's as though a rigid force is dominating entire populations, as in Iraq and Afghanistan. A truly fascinating image, Phil!
JSWaters30-Apr-2007 17:39
When I look at this with the blue of the sky cropped off, I see a modern urban structure layered over the illusion of ancient desert dwellings, (It must be the arched shape and the color), combining past and present in a statement about change. Of course, I see the beehive analogy and all it's components too. (Sorry, I've changed your image into something completely different!)
Phil Douglis30-Apr-2007 17:18
You are right, Kal. We have built our our world around the concept of work. There is no space in this urbanscape for nature.
Phil Douglis30-Apr-2007 17:17
Thanks for pointing out the role of the overlapping arches in the reflection, Aloha. And for seeing the tension between chaos and order -- so common in business itself. This image is surreal -- the only reality here is the vertical column on the left which gives the image stability. Everything else is shimmering motion.
Kal Khogali30-Apr-2007 14:21
It is cellular and very urban...we are all, afterall, just bees working for the queen bee ;-)K
Aloha Diao Lavina30-Apr-2007 05:25
What struck me in this image is the overlapping arches and portals in the reflection, suggesting busy-ness and bustle. Overall designs of work involve an attempt to organize what may be a chaotic enterprise--and in the overlapping patterns emerges a tension between chaos and the desire for order. Ultimately, though, what remains constant is the organizational structure of the material, the housing of our city lives.
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