Windows are a way of seeing what is on the other side of the wall; looking out or looking in. But it is looking, watching, not touching. Windows offer limited porosity. Porosity suggests the movement of something, a communication, light, and in this case it might be some level of understanding developed on what we can see through the window, however, may be like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, it could be a complete misunderstanding, or essentially a complete distortion. Regardless, windows for the most part represent some form of passage through the wall.
In one sense, a photograph is like a window. It contains the elements of light and a subject we can look at, but like the scene watched through the window, we can only gaze; the subject is untouchable. A photograph of a window thus becomes a window on a window. A photograph of an outside window might correspond to how we conceptualise the world around us; it exists outside of ourselves while our mental image of it resides in our minds.
Tour groups that travel by bus, boat or otherwise, are often separated by a pane of glass or physical distance. While moving from one place to another in an environment designed to maintain all the comforts of home, replicating the tourist’s own cultural space, they become spectators disconnected from what’s around them. When they venture out of that space onto the stage they are guided to the top must-see sites; like a best-of album, each song is great, but the collection is disconnected, lacking an integrating narrative.
Like globalisation that is driven by narrowly-defined market objectives, mass-market tourism with its 6AM to 6PM gauntlet of 15 minute stops for a photograph or half-day layovers at a World Heritage site, the tourist is compelled to seeing as much as possible.