The focus of my project was tourism. I quickly found that tourism was a mode of being and a method of acting, rather than a static identity. I decided, then, to let my project be guided by the word ‘tourist’ as it was originally used in the 18th century, as a verb. To tourist.
I explored many different topics during my project, manly focusing on different tourist formats such as the souvenir, postcard, leaflet and guidebook. Quite unexpectedly, much of my experimentation ended up being performative, as costume and acting became important to forming my visual language and working through my ideas. Scale also became important at the points where I was trying to reflect the relationship between place, person and souvenir. A highlight of my experimentation was making a life size replica of the Statue of Liberty’s hand using masking tape.
The question I kept coming back to throughout my research was: what defines being a tourist? I eventually decided that to tourist was to reduce the experience of a place. There is only so much language you can fit on one side of a postcard, and so our experiences of a holiday are boiled down to phrases like “the scenery is spectacular”. Similarly, there is only so much space left in our suitcase for things to bring back home, so we remember our sightseeing via small plastic models of famous attractions.
For my final outcome I wanted to represent both the active and performative element of touristing, but also its reductive nature. The best way to communicate this was through a double-sided folding A0 map. On one side I printed the image of a tourist’s torso. When the sheet of paper was held like a map, the image mapped onto the viewers body, meaning that, from the outside, they were transformed into a tourist. On the other side I added graphics and language from the tourist formats I had explored, showing this process of reduction.
My experimentation and research exploring the topic of tourism.