Over the last 6 months, I have been thinking about the next steps along my documentary career path. The last two-and-one-half years of my studies have tacked along a culture and heritage trajectory. The growth in world-wide migration has brought together divergent peoples increasing the interaction among the world’s cultures and with that has come more opportunities for both harmonization and tension. The heritage dimension of my studies opened a subjective view of migration, resulting in two works exploring the multi-generational impact experienced by my family:
A book: 4 Generations and a Migration, explored broad cultural changes over 4 generations of a family
An installation (photography, film and performance): Denk Ich an Sonneberg, took a deeper dive exploring the ethnic and racial diversification over four generations, using food as a cultural marker, built a theoretical foundation of culture, identity, memory, and place.
My intention is to continue to study culture, through the lens of tourism as a construct intersecting culture, economics and technology, enabled through globalization. Through tourism we can see the convergence of social norms, food, landscapes, architecture, place, identity, and with the physical artifacts, we can see the changes in place and identity over time. My departure point is the question is tourism simply a 21st Century form of colonialization? I am not certain where that leads nor even if it is the right question.
I intend to examine different styles of tourism, including but not limited to: leisure; historical / archeological; culinary; volunteer; and cultural / heritage. I intend to visit sites that range across these styles, ranging from low to high volumes of tourism.
A critical look at tourism asks us to reflect on our understanding of the authenticity of place, identity, culture and people. To explore the tourist gaze, the visual construction of place as a reflection of romantic notions, nostalgia, contemporary exoticism, to engender the feel or the purpose of the trip. The cynical view might position such constructions as a Disney-fication, driven by marketing and economics, to develop a brand in the age of destination culture. An exploration into the participants in tourism (the tourist; tour operators; governments; developers; local inhabitants) will expose the tensions among their respective goals and motivations. I intend to examine the question what is right or wrong with this (if anything)? I would like to contextualise the observations into the broader course of normal change, transgenerational change.
While it is too early to confirm how this work might be represented, my starting point is to assume photography as the medium, and “landscape” as the genre. My broad interpretation of the genre includes urban, suburban and architectural photography in addition to the traditional form of natural places. This broad scope is necessary to allow the inclusion of human artifacts as markers cultural change.
At this point I am researching references on the topic. Following that, and informed by my empirical studies, I will scope and then develop the artwork. The artwork could be in the form of a gallery show, a book, a web site or some combination of these. While I consider photography as my starting point, film is not excluded and will be adopted should its capabilities further the work.