QCA Study Tour - Amanda Laycock | Tourism | Self

I am a 2nd year Fine Art Student at QCA, Griffith University.

Recently, I undertook the International Study Tour program conducted by Griffith University and James Cook University in 2011. This visual essay is a response to the course and the concept of the contemporary cultural tourist in relation to self documentation, intimacy, human behaviour and autobiography which I explore throughout my artistic practice.
All photographs remain the property of the author.

Contradictions of the Cultural Tourist

"Cultural tourism is a genre of special interest tourism based on the search for and participation in new and deep cultural experiences, whether aesthetic, intellectual, emotional, or psychological”
Stebbins (in Kennedy 2000 )

Motivations of the Cultural Tourist
• To experience something unique to the place • To experience something new
(Foo 1998 p.28)

• Experiencing new and different lifestyles • Seeing and experiencing a foreign destination
(Uysal 1994 p. 25)

Motivations for participating in Cultural Activities
The Museum • Social interaction with friends and relatives • education • Self awareness, personal fulfillment and social status • to experience something new, authentic and unique • emotional and spiritual enrichment

(Foo 1998 p. 30)

Motivations for participating in Cultural Activities
The Gallery • education • to experience something authentic, unique and beautiful

Foo (1998 p.30)

Culture Shock and structured freedom: Adjustment to place through domestic acts and routine

Regardless of the initial motivation to experience ‘something new’, basic human nature dictates the need for familiarity and routine

Unmade bed

Inevitably, travel is made up many situations out of the traveller’s control.These range from hours of waiting in bus depots, train stations and airports; undecipherable menus, jetlag and disorientation. Therefore, it is the small spaces and structures in which the traveller takes comfort and control.

Through organisation or disarray, cleanliness or filth, casual abandon or scrupulous attention to detail; the ordinary routine and habits of the traveller dictate their experience of the foreign environment.

Handbag contents

The hotel room becomes a space of order or disorder as the traveller takes control of their environment through the replication of homely behaviours.
Cleanliness/ disarray


In spite of the very desire to ‘get away from it all’ domesticity is both unavoidable and unshakable. Forester in Buzard (1988 p.159) laments that travel, provided ‘no opportunity for an encounter with bonafide otherness, but only the absurd repetitions or grotesque exaggerations of familiar domestic pressures.’

The traveller personalises their space and partakes in ritual.


Home Decorating

Grocery Shopping



The pattern of seeking out familiarity can also be observed in the very driving force of the cultural pilgrimage via the viewing of art and by extension, the art gallery system.

The Gallery

The gallery whilst providing a forum for cultural engagement also acts as a sanctuary of universally understood conventions and behaviour. It is space which provides shelter, comfort from the elements (heating or airconditioning), bathrooms, food and drink and a clear, set activity (the viewing of art) and understood rules: • • • • • Bulky items must be cloaked Purchase ticket Quiet, respectful demeanor Look but do not touch Photography permitted where signs dictate

The Public Museum is ‘an example of perfect order and perfect elegance to the disorderly and rude populace’
(Ruskin in Hanley 2010, p. 154)

In the pursuit of cultural enlightenment, the art pilgrimage often results in an endurance marathon of gallery after gallery and often the strength of a location’s galleries dictate a traveler’s perception of the place.

`Views of Europe’ (from gallery windows)

Whilst the gallery enables a certain level of empowerment in foreign cultural visitors through the recognition of protocols and most importantly the cultural stimulation via art; the act of traditional gallery viewing can also be examined as a passive and sanitized exercise.

The cultural tourist is also driven by the desire to respond and consume surroundings in a dominant way. This spawns from a wish to prolong the experience, to absorb a sense of culture and status and all importantly to prove the experience actually happened.

The need to document is awakened.

Daily journals capture a heightened and ‘unreal’ reality.

The desire to document acts more as a means of self expression than a means of capturing a physical place.

I feel like I’ve found home

Cold Knees and a mild hangover

This was not worth waking up for


The role of photography in contemporary travel

Urry (1990, p. 140) writes that:
‘Photography is . . . intimately bound up with the tourist gaze. Photographic images organize our anticipation or daydreaming about the places we might gaze on. When we are away we record images of what we have gazed on. And we partly choose where to go to capture places on film. The obtaining of photographic images in part organizes our experiences as tourists. And our memories of places are largely structured through photographic images and the mainly verbal text we weave around images when they are on show to others. The tourist gaze thus irreducibly involves the rapid circulation of photographic images.’

Markwell (in Garrod 2003, p.31) argues that the ‘stereotypic image of a tourist weighted down by cameras, lenses, tripods and other photographic paraphernalia, although a cliché, nevertheless highlights the strong, almost inseparable connection between modern recreational travel and photography’.

‘Photography has become one of the principal devices for experiencing something, for giving an appearance of participation. …. And yet it is not contusive to the act of assimilation, as nothing visually brands the tourist more that a new camera dangling around the neck.’ Sontag (1977 p. 7)

The very desire desire to capture the experience stands at odds with the desire for the authentic experience.

‘A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it-by limiting experience to a search for photogenic, by converting experience into an image, a souvenir. Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs. The very activity of taking pictures is soothing, and assuages general feelings of disorientation that are likely to be exacerbated by travel.’ Sontag (1977, p. 9)

Photography too, serves as a ‘coping mechanism’.

The gestural sequence of ‘aim, point, shoot’ found in picture taking acts as an assertive display of ownership, of selecting a target and consuming it. The repetitive nature of photography also likens it to a work-like task and breaks a day into searching for appropriate objects and places to photograph and carrying out the prescribed actions.

Sontag (1977 p.10)

‘Like guns and cars, cameras are fantasy machines whose use is addictive’ Sontag (1977, p. 14 )

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Henry Miller

This place isn’t like home at all

Even the toilet paper seems exotic

You restored my faith in humanity

I was left with a sense of longing

‘Once photography enters your bloodstream, it's like a disease’ Anonymous

The Tourist as Voyeur

‘There is a photographer in every bush, going about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour’ Samuel Butler

For lack of real engagement with locals; a longing for intimacy, retaliation, amusement or a want to capture a sense of difference or similarity, the perverse pleasure of holiday stalking through discreet portraiture carries it’s own sense of satisfaction.

The camera’s role as fantasy machine allows an act of domination, a taboo and thrill.

Is the act of photographing locals a means in which to possess their otherness, confidence and sense of belonging for oneself ?

A way of connection by superficial means?

Photography the Gallery

As the cultural tourist endeavours to capture every site, taste, scene and person encountered, the photography of art reigns as the most important subject. As the viewing of art acts as the main motivation of the trip, proof, evidence, souvenir is sought after through self photography of the work (if allowed), postcards and catalogue
Photography has begun to dictate the way we view art, which more commonly is through the viewfinder (no flash). The cultural status of the work is transferred to the viewer through the authoritive act of photography, which claims ownership of the art. The photograph acts as proof of the experience and a validation of the photographer’s refined taste.

‘To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge and, therefore, like power.’

Sontag (1977 p.4)

In summary, the cultural tourist’s quest to experience ‘something new’ and an ‘authentic experience’ whilst also achieving self awareness, personal fulfillment and social status through an engagement with cultural sights is flawed through the human desire for comfort, routine and structure. The use of photography as a coping mechanism provides a sense of purpose and evidence, however detracts from a genuine engagement with people, place and object. Cultural Tourism is fraught with contradictions. However, the pursuit of culture, education and new experience is always a valid pursuit.

The trip was worth its weight in paper…

Buzard, J 1988 ‘Forster’s Trespasses: Tourism and cultural politics’, Twentieth Century Literature, vol. 34, no.2, pp. 159-179, JSTOR, viewed 10 August 2011, <http://www.jstor.org.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/sici?sici=0041462X%281988%2934%3A2%3C155%3AFTTACP%3E2.0.CO%3B2-P&origin=serialsolutions&> Dittman, M 2005 ‘A different environment may break habits’, Monitor of Psychology, vol. 36, no. 6, pp.10, American Psychology Association, viewed 10 August 2011, <http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun05/habits.aspx> Foo, L 1998 ‘Cultural tourism in Australia: Characteristics and Motivations’, Bureau of Tourism Research, viewed 12 August 2011, <http://jtr.sagepub.com.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/content/47/3/346.full.pdf+html> Garrod, B 2009, ‘Understanding the Relationship between Tourism, Destination Imagery and Tourist Photography’, Journal of Travel Research, vol.47, no. 3, pp. 346-358, Aberystwyth University, JSTOR, viewed 20 August 2011, < http://jtr.sagepub.com.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/content/47/3/346>

Hanley, K & Walton, J 2010, Constructing Cultural Tourism: John Ruskin and the Tourist Gaze, Channel View Publications, Bristol. Osbourne, B & Kovacs, J 2008, ‘Cultural Tourism: Seeking Authenticity,Escaping into Fantasy, or Experiencing Reality’, Choice, pp.927-937. Kennedy, C 2000 ‘Cultural Tourism’, viewed 15 August 2011, <http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/00/ckenned1/index.html> Palmer, C 2005, ‘An ethnography of Englishness-Experiencing Identity through Tourism’, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 32, issue 1, pp. 7-27, JSTOR, viewed 20 August 2011, http://www.sciencedirect.com.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/science/article/pii/S016 0738304001057> Sontag, S 1977, On Photography, Picador, New York. Urry, J 1990 The Tourist Gaze, Sage Publications, London.

Uysal, M 1994, Global Tourist Behaviour, Hayworth Press , New York.

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