Viewing platforms: a photographic investigation of Australian tourist landscapes
thesisposted on 22.02.2019, 03:39 authored by Häggblom, Kristian Paul
Viewing Platforms is a photographic investigation of the relationships that are played out in the Australian landscape between tourists and remote destinations and the subsequent interaction of society, space and nature. Photographs are made at both remote urban and rural landscape attractions and the liminal spaces that separate these tourist travel destinations. For this project, the uniquely Australian long distances to journey to these locations are considered part of the tourist experience. Visually and conceptually, within these places of transience and awe, the tourist infrastructure that is physically imposed over particular landscapes is considered a stage, not only for visitors, but, also guides, other tourist industry workers and local inhabitants. Viewing Platforms imagery depicts how the landscape is contained for consumption and is captured from within the performance of tourism. The project includes both photographs for exhibition and a photobook publication that are considered an experimental travelogue which is punctuated by an anecdotal semi-fictional voice. The exegesis outlines the initial construction of viewing platforms in Australia and how photography is manifested as a performance within these spaces. The project is informed by theories that pertain to tourism, simulation and contemporary landscape and photography theory. As a point of departure, the research makes use of Dean MacCannell’s extension of Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis of front and back social ‘regions’. Research is also undertaken of more recent tourism theory that elaborates on the ‘performance turn’ which looks beyond the tourist gaze to a more informed multi-sensorial experience. Viewing Platforms acts to highlight the many complex modes of travelling within the Australian landscape from within the narrative of my own experiences. By photographically documenting ‘drifting’ forms of tourism and ‘performative’ engagements with the landscape the project illustrates both positive and negative physical and psychological possibilities of travel within Australia. The research outcomes include an exhibition of photographs and a photobook publication of which are accompanied by a narrative voice that is both academic and anecdotal. These entwined methodologies expand on documentary photographic practices and question what tourists gain from (semi) mediated experiences in the vastness of Australia.