What is it?
First seen on My Modern Met, here, this is a project by Swiss-based photographer, Corinne Vionnet, that explores the complex associations between tourism and visual culture by superimposing tourists’ photos of significant landmarks one over the other. The result is a fascinating collage series of elusive yet immediately identifiable monuments and places that exist somewhere between photography, drawing and oil painting.
Vionnet has sifted through online photo-sharing sites, selecting between 200 and 300 photos each of landmarks like Big Ben, Mecca, the Alhambra, Disneyland and the Colosseum. She chooses a central point of reference to link the layered photos, like the Ka’aba at Mecca for instance, or the portrait of Mao in the Forbidden City, and leaves the rest of the collage to chance. Though the photos are taken from similar vantage points, changes in lighting, visitor attendance and perspective all leave their mark on the final image. Surrounding landscape is like mist and people are ghosts, together creating a strong contrast against the sharp central reference point.
What do we think?
This contrast between centre and periphery imbues the works with a perhaps unintended quality, revealing the dual processes that went into their making. Whilst the repetitive, careless tourist snapshot and Vionnet’s unique, highly-crafted assembly could not derive from more different processes, the gaze of both are fixed firmly on the same point, a connection that elaborates on the rich and profoundly reciprocal relationship between place and tourism.
Vionnet’s work is grounded in the endlessly repetitive process of travel, in the identical small journeys made by hundreds of millions of travellers every year. However, through her intervention, the individual journeys somehow overcome their similitude to reveal the collective cultural power of the places we visit.