Donald Horne uses a hepful metaphor to open The Great Museum.

He describes the normal behaviour of the devotees of a particular cult. These devotees are in fact tourists who as he says “are trying to imagine the past.”1Photography is related to tourism inasmuch it makes the tourist’s experience real, according to Horne: “...;by photographing a monument, we make it real. It also offers us the joys of possession,...”2. His theory is based on the idea that the tourist’s camera defines the tourist’s experience, establishes the definitions of reality according to this experience and gives the tourist the chance to own the space and time where and when the tourist is tourist, as no other mean has been able to do before. As Susan Sontag says “To collect photographs is to collect the world”3 and “To photograph is to appropiate the thing photographed.”4 The tourist becomes a tourist as much as he/she is able to possess the photographed, which becomes the landscape, historical site or cultural icon once is photographed. This experience the tourist seeks to possess through photography is directly affected by nostalgia. In addition to Horne’s idea of past5, John Frow studies the relationship between tourism and nostalgia in his Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia6. Tourism has developed at the same time than mass culture has made the experience available to all through cameras: “from the observing traveler to the possessive tourist, and from the world as being to the world as simulacrum.”7 To find out how this change has come about it is necessary to consider the main developments within the photographic world since it became available for the tourists’ use.


Donald Horne, The Great Museum: The Re-presentation of History (London: Pluto Press Limited, 1984), p. 1. 2 Donald Horne, The Great Museum: The Re-presentation of History (London: Pluto Press Limited, 1984), p. 12. 3 Susan Sontag, On Photography (London: Penguin Books, 1979), p. 3. 4 Susan Sontag, On Photography (London: Penguin Books, 1979), p. 4. 5 Donald Horne, The Great Museum: The Re-presentation of History (London: Pluto Press Limited, 1984), p. 26. 6 John Frow, ‘Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia’, October, 57 (1991), 123-151. 7 John Frow, ‘Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia’, October, 57 (1991), 123-151 (p. 142).

John Taylor refers to “the illusion of ownership” that country guides offered the lower and middle classes in England from the 1920’s to the 1940’s8 . As this particular period of history enabled the creation of a lower to middle class in England who sought after the stability and security that the Great War had taken away, Taylor explains that tourism in the countryside grew dramatically, at the same time that Kodak cameras were made available to the majority of the population. As the industrial era came about, mass consumption increased. The period in-between wars saw the phenomenon of tourism reach through class divisions, and camera in hand, English people learned a new idea of picturesque countryside which gave the nation a notion of identity. It was the un-spoilt non-urban spaces that captivated the imagination of the masses appealing through once again nostalgia to recover the shaken English values after the First World War: “ The guides focused upon history, topography, and antiquarian interest, demonstrated the virtue of self-improvement, and advocated the beauty, heritage, or legacy of England.”9 As the urban centres were growing unstopably, the appeal of the rural, the yet undiscovered and unvisited, the roots of England, increased side by side. In a world where changes were too quick to understand, the people sought refuge in the past, and took along their Kodak cameras so that they could own that piece of the past and take it home. Brochures and travel books depicting this ideal of countryside found their place in the market of commodities, as one of the best examples is In Search of England by H.V. Morton:


John Taylor, ‘Kodak and the ‘English’ Market between the Wars’, Journal of Design History, 7, No. 1 (1994), 29-42 (p. 31). 9 John Taylor, ‘Kodak and the ‘English’ Market between the Wars’, Journal of Design History, 7, No. 1 (1994), 29-42 (p. 31).

The idea of English countryside, unspoilt green spaces and serenity is expressed through the use of the typical village elements. In the following early Kodak advert 10 the idea of owning photographs as a way of owning an experience and making it real it is clear. The illustration depicts a moment of leisure, leisure time that had been commodified inasmuch society had become industrial. Kodak persuades the masses that the fun it is not to be had for the sake of it, but it is to be photographed, as the fun part of it is to show the photographs, to make the moment theirs, therefore making it timeless. In a society where materialism becomes the main ideology, owning a moment in time becomes essential:


In the following example of Kodak advertisement the ownership of time is being referred to again. The idea that the tourist moment can be revisited time and time again without the same expense of travel and money whenever we please is illustrated11. The photographs used on the advertisement to show the travellers’ experience depict every action they are expected to take on a given trip: they are seen loading the vehicle with lugagge, setting up their tents, canooing through a river... every photo shows an idea that the social imagination produces, towards which everyone can aspire to. The viewers are shown what they should do once in the countryside, the photographs spell it out for them. The language of the image, the copy of the reality of a moment is more powerful than the text. The idea of nature and wilderness as opposed to the life in the city is depicted through photographs of exotic animals. The iconic idea of leisure that is


printed in the common social mind is only real because it can be seen through photographs, it can be owned therefore it is.

In the following photogaph taken by Bill Brandt in 1947 Stonehenge is depicted under snow12. As a photographer he contributed to several illustrated magazines during the period between the World Wars. The viewer can immediately relate to the photo, even though they might have never visited the site, it is understood it stands for English culture and past, heritage and identity. Once exposed to this representation of England unlimitedly it is safely assumed that these are not just stones put together hundreds of years ago, but the nation has inherited the space therefore when visiting it becomes necessary to photograph it to prove its existance. It is really just like its depiction as there is a photograph to prove it.


Hill Brandt Stonehenge Under Show 1947

As the cultural space called Stonehenge becomes its photograph, its representation gets mass produced:

Originally the silhoutte of stones could represent only the expression of an ancient culture. It then gets photographed to become an icon and develop a meaning without the

spatial factor. Then it makes its way onto the brochures and postcards to advertise its non existent self. The postcard is a vital show of the experience as a tourist visiting Stonehenge. Stongehenge as a circle of stones has long ago lost its original meaning, to become the time we have spent there. Steven Hoelscher approaches the history of the relationship between tourism and photography from the American point of view. In his article about photographer H.H. Bennett he says: “Acquiring photographs gives shape to travel as it informs what the viewer should see, how it should be seen, and when it should be seen- all in a matter-offact and seemingly “unmediated” way.”13 He is referring to the role of photography as an essential aid to the widespread of tourism as a mass-culture activity. Using the same example already used, when visiting Stonehenge the viewer is told what it is to be seen, to be photographed, to be purchased and to revisit once back home.

By exposure and acquired cultural education it is understood that the tourist needs to photograph the visited space as otherwise its existence in the tourist reality is jeopardized. The two images above show the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. The left image is a postcard from the beginning of the XX century14. The right image belongs to a personal experience as a visitor in Istanbul. Not only the photograph needs to be taken


Steven Hoelscher, ‘The Photographic Construction of Tourist Space in Victorian America’, Geographical Review, 88, No. 4, J.B. Jackson and Geography (1998), pp. 548-570 (p. 549). 14

as the tourist has been taught that their memory is not enough to guarantee and preserve its existance. If the tourist can be framed in the photograph the experience is personalized. The tourist was there as the photograph can proof. The qualities of the camera makes it very difficult to dispute the reality of the tourist. A painting used to be the means to protrait a scene. Photography is trustworthy. There is no doubt that these tourists were in Istanbul. They might not know much about the Blue Mosque. What they do know is that to be able to experience the tourist visit it is required that they photograph it and if feasable, they appear in the frame to make Istanbul truly theirs. In a world where globalizing tendencies have shrunk distances between peoples, whereby means like the internet an individual is able to “be” in several places at the same time (new concepts like “working from home” or “business travellers” have changed the face of interpersonal communications) the phtographic image becomes invaluable. Text and language belong to the multicultural society, they are varied and they are not accessible to all. Images can be understood by all. The tourist experience through a lense has become a new type of discourse in contemporary times. A new language that can be talked by all, shared by all and understood by all. Through photos tourists are shown the experience to be had:

These three examples of tourist photography found on a website functioning as a travel guide15 show what Benidorm should be for the visitors. For the English tourist market

Benidorm is transformed to a cheap holiday with sea and Sun. Benidorm is no longer a Spanish coastal town. Benidorm is an experience available for all at affordable prices. British visitors are exposed to this image of the holiday: the Sun shines, the beaches are bursting with life, the swimming pools are safely crowded with kids. It has become a week of cheap food and drinks, of Sun and sand. Even the idea of an urban centre behind Benidorm has been shed a while ago. As a mimic reaction, the tourist will imitate and copy this meaning time and time again. With cameras they will be able to reproduce the experience and make it everlasting, communicating through them the meaning they have given to “Benidorm”. But nowadays this kind of tourist experience is only one of many. As mass-culture reaches its peak, the offer for so-called alternative tourists diversifies and grows. We can be certain that even the most anti-tourist traveller will be catered for.

As these photographs show16 there is also another type of tourist. One more interested in an individual personalized experience, which hopefully enriches him/her and fills them


with knowledge. Still, the photographic language is a very familiar one. The photograph shows the activity to be had, the monument to pose next to. The website photograph shows the photograph that needs to be taken. They still educate the viewer in the experience to be had thanks to the camera. Tourist photography also serves as a means of comunication for the anti-tourist message. Tourism en masse is commonly asociated with exploitation of local resources and capitalism in general:

In this first example of anti-tourism photograph it can be safely assumed that the photograph was actually taken by a tourist17. Does his or her tourist experience differ to others as they are not trying to appropiate the local cultural heritage with their cameras? They are still making a memento of their experience to take with them, whether they are in agreement with such a statement or not. It still shows and proofs that they were there, not only that, they can assume that their experience was even more real as they dared to expose the local antagonism against their own visit.

The tourist identity has been determined by the camera and the experience it provides them with:

Both these examples of photography18 depict the iconic idea of the meaning of tourist. Tourists do not have eyes anymore. They have cameras and through them they are able to see the world. Without them the world is not their reality. On group holidays taking the photograph has become more important than admiring the sight. Tourists are told they will have time to take the necessary photograph so that their visit is worthwhile. Otherwise it becomes valueless. Photography enables the tourist to exist. Both as a subject of the photograph or as the viewer the tourist can’t escape its power. The tourist is bound to feel a certain degree of
18 FCDDE3EA62152A55A1E4F32AD3138 and

frustration precisely because of this. Frow cites Levi-Strauss when dealing with the Irresoluble Paradox: “the less one culture communicates with another, the less likely they are to be corrupted, one by the other; but, on the other hand, the less likely it is, in such conditions, that the respective emissaries of these cultures will be able to seize the richness and significance of their diversity. The alternative is inescapable: either I am a traveler in ancient times, and faced with a prodigious spectacle which would be almost entirely unintelligible to me and might,indeed, provoke me to mockery or disgust; or I am a traveler of our own day, hastening in search of a vanished reality.”19Tourist go in search of the symbols exposed by photography, symbols they are familiar with and are able to comprehend, hence the need to make the icon ours. Comfronted with symbols and signs not able to understand, tourists lose their quality of tourist, become not interested at its best, possibly apathetic and intolerant once challenged by a reality that it is not theirs, and it will never be theirs as they cannot relate to it nor own it. There is a certain degree of anxiety when visiting a well known cultural enclave and tourists are not able to confirm and fulfill their expectations by visiting the symbol of such place. It is only when the tourists look back at the photographs of themselves on the Empire State Building that they can safely say and assume they were indeed in New York City. They could have been anywhere else in the world, up until that moment when they are able to make the city theirs, as the city is the Empire State Building:


John Frow, ‘Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia’, October, 57 (1991), 123-151 (p. 132).

It is only once the Empire State Building is seen20 the tourist can rest assured they are in New York. Using the common language of photography, nostalgia gives the tourist experience an insolvable paradox: “This is the paradox of the impossible appropiation of the Other repeated with an economic vengeance; and it is a paradox that rebounds, since any place at all can become the cultural Other of tourism”.21The search of a utopian reality throws the tourists into the world, makes them shoot the cultural reference they are familiar with, lets them think it becomes theirs and enables them to go back happily thinking they own a portion of the world and its past. It is only when the moment of realization of this paradox becomes real that the tourist experience becomes frustrated. Still, the mass-culture and capitalist mechanisms to protect their experience are many and powerful, photography being the most important of all.

20 21 John Frow, ‘Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia’, October, 57 (1991), 123-151 (p. 151)..

Horne, Donald, The Great Museum: The Re-presentation of History (London: Pluto Press Limited, 1984). Taylor, John , ‘Kodak and the ‘English’ Market between the Wars’, Journal of Design History, 7, No. 1 (1994), 29-42. Sontag, Susan, On Photography (London: Penguin Books, 1979). Frow, John, ‘Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia’, October, 57 (1991), 123-151. Hoelscher, Steven, ‘The Photographic Construction of Tourist Space in Victorian America’, Geographical Review, 88, No. 4, J.B. Jackson and Geography (1998), pp. 548-570.

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