universal tourist

Christin Bolewski. 2010. Germany. 7’

‘There is one moment, which unifies all travellers. It is the culmination of travel. It is the encounter with the global icons of travel. In a world of simulations we have seen all these icons long before travelling takes place: On television, in magazines, books and on the internet. In a constant search of the real we feel now, in the moment of encounter, the urgent need to reassure ourselves of the existence of these places and thereby of our own existence. Us, the travellers - in the position of the traveller. Us, as part of reality, as part of the world, as part of history. The moment captured for our return home when we write the stories of our lives: I was here, so I am. I travel, so I am.' ‘Universal tourist' is an experimental video, a documentary observation and a sociological and cultural study of a global phenomenon of mass consumer culture: it interrogates tourist photographic practices - the holiday snapshot. The video observes tourists while they act as tourists. It takes pictures of people taking pictures. It records them while they record themselves. The photographic pose of the traveller - a frozen moment to store and save memories of a staged version of how one likes to see and remember oneself is explored as a moving image. What happens before and after the snapshot? The ‘decisive moment' of photography extends and reveals more about photographic ‘truth', ‘real', staged and authentic moments. The amateur ‘accidental aesthetic' of the snapshot – immediate and raw glimpses of time – is captured on video and edited in a dramatic structure that accelerates to a furious paced trip around the globe. At each given moment of time there are hundreds and thousands of travellers from all over the world performing the same ritual over and over again. when we take pictures, we appropriate the power of the semiotic landscape by placing ourselves in the center of the resonating image, either figuratively by "taking" the picture ourselves and placing it in our personal contexts, or literally by placing ourselves or our family and friends in front of the scene that is now literally made to function simultaneously as a background for experience, location of experience, and proof of our experience of the signs of "there-ness" of the site.