Style: Representation of Emotions

Le Café Van Gogh

Beyond those of hope and despair, other emotions spawn from tourism that need to be included. Emotions can be spawned by both the subject matter and how the photograph is rendered. Here I am less certain of which specific techniques, and approaches I will use and therefore expect many of the decisions to be made as patterns and trends emerge. But I do have a starting point: my research has left me with a list of words that encapsulate the characteristics of tourism that in turn have suggested to me a starting point of the emotional dimension of the work. All this has lead me to explore the use of a visual language.

First, the terms characteristic of tourism:

  • Authenticity:
    Tourists frequently seek authentic things: sites, food, people, culture and traditions
  • Colonisation:
    The question that has come to mind, through my readings, is whether tourism represents a 21st century form of colonisation
  • Commodification
    With its packages, souvenirs, and other paraphernalia, many things have turned into items for purchase
  • Convergence (homogenization, un-differentiation):
    There has been a trend towards making things the same. A modern hotel, for example in France may be indistinguishable from one in Canada.
  • Exotic (fantasy, dreaming):
    Possibly in contrast to convergence is the desire to find something different, at least from ones daily life.
  • Globalisation and Localisation:
    These two forces are a source of tension, often due to competing objectives and how they are resolved (if they are resolved) determines how these stresses are manifest
  • Mediation:
    Many tourists purchase travel packages which lay out an itinerary. While the benefit is that everything is taken care of, the complement is that the tourist sees places through the eyes of the tour operator and guides. They determine what is important to hear and see.
  • Resistance:
    The reaction that residents might have to tourism, when the identified benefits do not materialise or of the tourist who has become uncomfortable with the mass-market tour packages and seeks something uncontrived.
  • Shallowness:
    That sense a tourist might develop when on a 5-day, 10-country European tour.
  • Verisimilitude (re-creations, rewriting, manufactured, staging):
    Related to authenticity, the question arises on how to interpret a site that has been reconstructed to appear original. Is it still “authentic”. These questions carry over to [staged-for-the-tourist] cultural events, and even historic villages or cities whose majority are tourists, not residents and as a result have become little more than an amusement park.

The emotions that come to mind, include pleasure, ambiguity, and distance. I am often left with a sense that something is missing.

This has lead to a draft visual language intended to portray some of the feelings through physical objects. The language includes:

  • Walls / Fences
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Stairs
  • Remnants

Walls and fences are intended to express the physical and intellectual constraints on tourism, the boundaries the tourist might face either from their own understanding or the resistance of local residents. Windows and doors reflect the opportunities to over come and get through these boundaries and stairs suggest the journey through these boundaries. Remnants, on the other hand, convey a temporal dimension as they are references to the past. They express the convergence of past and present, which parallels our culture as an accumulation of knowledge. These metaphors applied to tourism have parallels with the tensions between globalisation and localisation. The former seeks to break down walls, the frictions related to the movement of products, capital and people, while the latter seeks to protect the local character, local culture, local identity. These will be covered in later posts.


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