Alienation and Integration: A Comparative Photo Study of City and Country Life

Orange, grey, green: the colours strike you. Moving from vivid ones on the mountain’s sun-facing slope to majestic varieties at the water’s edge, the trees unify the image. They reflect the sun’s energy, nearly overpowering the lone human figure in the synthetic yellow windbreaker.

But this figure is far from lonely. They’re off-centre, but they fit in. Their kayak isn’t garish; its grey-white hue resembles the sky, marking the human as a natural addition. Raising the right paddle, the figure progresses toward an unseen point in the distance. Although the viewer doesn’t know the figure’s destination, the ripples in the water illustrate progression. Far from being alienated by majestic nature, the character finds their home in the landscape.

The reflections in the crystal clear water reinforce the human’s integration. The sky, the edge of the mountain — they absorb and surround the kayaker on several planes. Thus, the awe the viewer initially feels looking at the image is replaced by a calming unity with the world. Humanity isn’t isolated from nature’s glory, movement and participation makes them actors.

Is the grid or the human the protagonist? Although centred, the figure’s shadow stretches to the left, suggesting that earthly constructions — the sun, the structure — push them toward the past. Their head down, their situation dominates them. Their black and white suit matches the monochrome grid. They are integrated into the world around them.

Yet this grid isn’t monochrome; it’s dynamic with colour. On the lower right hand corner the black lines are illuminated to a purple-y pink by the shadows and sun. An indeterminate geometric shadow falls on top. The shadow could be a building, the window manifesting the vivid colours. Someone is watching the scene.

Man’s progresses through the city alone, but in the shadow of others. He is connected through his phone, through the natural and artificial world that acts upon him. He is connected through concrete structures, like the grid, and intangible information, like the shadows. The contemporary city joins man in his solo progression.