The Tourist #1

Rewriting the Tourist Gaze 3.0

Urry and Larsen.

I always disliked travelling. I used to pretend it was because I was too tall or because I smoke. Now that I live on a tourist street I dislike being at home, too.

Saying why you hate what you hate is an act of love.

Cinderella’s Feretron Dance.

Cinderella’s Feretron Dance.


Cinderella dances with the image of her dead mother, in act one of Prokofiev's ballet.

The image re-presents the absence of mother. The image is the lack of mother imagined, or imaged. (It is also, of course, illustrated - that is the perhaps the simple and primary function of the painting of mother which is referred to by the dancers, and by Cinderella especially.)

In terms of its illustrative function the painting is merely necessary, in order to allow the audience to understand that something is not there but remains in the mind and memory of Cinderella.

What is interesting, for me, is the use of the image in this instance. The subject become object. The living subject become memorial object, to which the gestures of the living are addressed.

What lack is it that we are being asked to consider in this instance of reference to image? The lack of another subject? The lack of an imaginary other? The lack of a symbolic other? It is certainly not the lack of a Real other. Yet it seems that the threat of the Real of absence/lack, is somehow what energises Cinderella’s anxious and peculiarly formalised but utterly human movement. These rushes and steps backwards and forwards, the hiding and storing, and emphatic longing which are directed in overt and narrative gestures - can only be sustained by and in reference to re-presentation itself. What Cinderella dances for is not her mother, not Mother, but the very lack that produces the coordinates of being human, which is to say the gap between the words of the speaking being. Cinderella’s dance qua the image of mother is the dance, the dance of the being alienated by the imaginary with the ability to exist only via the imaginary.

Cinderella dances the intersecting line between anxiety and desire; representing without words the abyss of the woman who does not exist as the centrality of the alienation of the speaking being. Cinderella dances to the core of negativity instilled as we are born into language, her movement in the realisation of the energy of the void made manifest by the deadness of representation. It is only in the face of this representation that dance can happen, that the (christian) dance of life itself is actualised.

Mother is never seen, never understood to have any human characteristic at all. Even here, in the ballet, she has not only no voice but no movement. Rather it is Cinderella who by her movement, by her timidity and restraint of gesture, “speaks” the role of mother, the phantom of the Other who never, a priori, existed.

The absent mother is not object, she is also never figure. The woman does not exist. She is subject in as much as she is given meaning by and through the realisations, the gestural transfigurations of others. (Cinderella’s father’s gestures are also of note in this regard)

The figure/object to which I am able to correlate my notion of mother is a representational image made object. Where Gertrude is more than lacking by being present in all her utterly undeserving meaninglessness, Cinderella’s mother is pure lack, total absence made bearable by the act of (the painter’s) creation. This is why Cinderella’s mother is also absolutely true – she is absolutely fictional. There is more in Cinderella’s nothing-mother than there is in the unenviable barely something which is Gertrude.

Cinderella’s mother avoids being Gertrude by being nothing at all, which is to say nothing in all its positivity, all its animating abstraction. She does this by being a painting which only a daughter could pretend to love, against the horrifyingly ordinary imaginary reality of the ugly sisters and bitter step mother who, far from representing some ghastly nightmare, present reality in all its glorious and cruel comedy. Where Gertrude is a wobbly hook onto which a drama, a tragedy, can be barely believed to be mounted Cinderella for all its apparent childishness simply removes the real mother entirely from the stage and replaces her with the vast power of a representation.

Cinderella’s mother is only God, as represented via christ, as the image of the cross.

(Prince Charming might be usefully considered as the late medieval romantic repositioning of Christian religious fervour onto the beloved other?

And the fairy godmother - a kind of diabolical superego fantasy morality. Her pompous state of absolute moral certainty makes each of those little movements en pointe the more meaningful, shuffling slowly offstage, backwards, between the grotesque arabesque of “nature”.)

Festa de Noantri

Festa de Noantri

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The Festa de Noantri ("of us others", in opposition to "you others who live in other districts"), is celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin of Carmel, on the occasion of its liturgical feast, from 16 to 30 July in Trastevere district From Rome. It is undoubtedly one of the most felt festivals by the Roman people.

Origins and celebration

The origins of the festival seem to date back to 1535: it is said that after a storm, was found at the mouth of the Tiber by some fishermen of Corsica, a statue of the Virgin Mary, carved in cedar wood. The Madonna, for this reason called "Madonna Fiumarola", was then donated to the Carmelites (to whom we owe the title "Madonna del Carmine"), to the Basilica of San Crisogono in Trastevere (in Piazza Sonnino); thus became the Holy Protectress of the trasteverini.

Trastevere in this period is filled with stalls, musical and theatrical events and the open-air taverns are filled with people and tourists. But the popular festival is not as old as the liturgical one; it dates back to the twentieth century, promoted by Fascism with intent to awaken parties and popular traditions in Italy.

The statue is now in the Church of Sant'Agata in Trastevere, in the square half way along Via della Lungaretta (Piazza San Giovanni de Matha): from here every year on Saturday after July 16 (liturgical solemnity of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel ), a nineteenth-century polychrome wooden statue depicting the Madonna del Carmine, is carried in procession through the streets of the district to the Basilica of San Crisogono, where it stops for eight days, before returning with another procession in the church of membership. Over time the party has been transformed to meet the tourist needs, thus losing its popular character, but retaining its strong religious sentiment.

Martin Heidegger/William Eggleston/Roberto Rossellini

I can’t remember where I read about Heidegger’s trip to Greece to see the place of the Golden Age. When he got there he was horribly disappointed and found the whole thing rather garish and touristic and disgusting. It seems extraordinary to me that Heidegger could have been so stupid?
But then there is also the story about William Eggleston going to Paris as a young man to be an arty bohemian Eurocentric loony. He spent, I think, a few weeks there and couldn’t bear the smell and the mess and the noise and the revolting ruined-ness of the dream of the centre of the world.

I always wonder about people who go places, go on holiday or whatever and LOVE it. Going on holiday, travelling, is always, basically, Stromboli. The offer of suicide.

The Tourist #62


“Complex places are consumed as lightweight pre-arranged photo-scenes and experiencing is akin to seeing, seeing reduced to glancing and picture making to clicking.”

Clickity Clackity Looney tune whack.

Architecture is designed with seeing in mind.

Everyone has seen more impressive buildings in photographs than in life. Everyone that is not able to travel at will on a whim for the purposes of seeing impressive buildings.

The camera does not reduce us to only eyes just as a pen or a keyboard does not reduce us to only hands.

The Tourist #61


“It is too visual, brief, image driven and technological; too passive and impure. (Osborne, 2000)”

“It is too there, too overbearingly present. Too long. Too only also there as I am. And it is too natural. It is too demanding of recognition and pure, too natural, to have any use for meaning at all. It’s just there. Es ist so. It is only sublime nature, cretinous meaningless “beautiful” nature.” (Unborn, 2018)”

The Tourist #60


“‘But we have seen it’ these words still haunt me. The touristic mode of experiencing is primarily visual, and to have been there, to have ‘seen’ it , only requires presence. The tourist ‘sees’ enough of the Balinese ritual only to confirm his prior images derived from the media… To ‘see’ a ritual is comparable to collecting a souvenir. … The tourist has ‘seen’ a strange thing, a token of the exotic, and there is no necessity to go further, to penetrate to any deeper level … [than] to capture … the ceremony in photographs.”

Bruner (1995 235-6 our italics)”

A ritual exists to be seen. This is the risk the ritual takes, that it is there only to be seen and means nothing. The ritual may be precisely no more than what is seen, there.

The person who “understands” the Balinese ritual is then who? The Balinese authentic participant? The Balinese ironic participant? The Balinese mercenary participant (the old lady on her knees in the church praying her son’s business will recover)?

Or is it the German Anthropologist who can see how necessary religious belief is to the savages? As it once was for our mighty civilisations?

Or is it the tourist who is looking for answers, but also, and principally, postcards - which are so much better really than a performance of a performance of an act of ritualistic value and bearing? Is the tourist here not closest to the one who wishes for the “true” religious aspect of the ritual to be preserved? In passing by they pass by the carnivalesque re-staging in a world bereft of grace of something which once, perhaps, at least meant something to someone?

After the event has been photographed once it is a whore to allow itself to be photographed again.

The Tourist #59


“While their afterlife is uncertain, many tourist photographs are visible, mobile and tie up with everyday socialising upon various networked screens. And, we may add, disposable. Lack of an ‘aura of thingness’ partly explains why so many digital photographs are short-lived, but also why they are values and a fast mobile form of communication. Digital photographs are a crucial component of mobile-networked societies of distanciated ties and screened sociality. While many digital images exist virtually, digital photography is not without a material substance, and some digital images do materialise as objects with an ‘aura of thingness’.”

What in the name of Christ is this?!

An attempt at translation -

“And the no was but and yes was now is for to to and no yes but and for the and well well oh, hingwy.”

The Tourist #58


“While it is still early days, the lives of photographs on Facebook and Flickr tend to be short lived; a stream of transitory ephemeral throwaway images. They are talked about today and forgotten tomorrow.”

So photography now is more like newspaper photography then, then? Except we don’t have to throw away actual paper.

What of the alternative? “A monumental pillar of indelible concrete pricelessly reified original things” - like in the Sentinel? In 2001? Those things are alien things, though, aren’t they? That is why they are things, why they, how they remain things and resist becoming objects. Is it not? What happens when we see things? Unsymbolisable things? You go mad then die.

(The soul is a bone.)

You don’t know what photos you need until the others die and/or leave you wanting.

And data, is stored. Even when it is not seen, it is waiting to be seen by God. Data is eternal evidence.

Agamben’s Judgement Day.

The Tourist #57


Horloge! dieu sinistre, effrayant, impassible,

Dont le doigt nous menace et nous dit: «Souviens-toi!

Les vibrantes Douleurs dans ton coeur plein d'effroi

Se planteront bientôt comme dans une cible;

Le Plaisir vaporeux fuira vers l'horizon

Ainsi qu'une sylphide au fond de la coulisse;

Chaque instant te dévore un morceau du délice

À chaque homme accordé pour toute sa saison.

Trois mille six cents fois par heure, la Seconde

Chuchote: Souviens-toi! — Rapide, avec sa voix

D'insecte, Maintenant dit: Je suis Autrefois,

Et j'ai pompé ta vie avec ma trompe immonde!

Remember! Souviens-toi! prodigue! Esto memor!

(Mon gosier de métal parle toutes les langues.)

Les minutes, mortel folâtre, sont des gangues

Qu'il ne faut pas lâcher sans en extraire l'or!

Souviens-toi que le Temps est un joueur avide

Qui gagne sans tricher, à tout coup! c'est la loi.

Le jour décroît; la nuit augmente; Souviens-toi!

Le gouffre a toujours soif; la clepsydre se vide.

Tantôt sonnera l'heure où le divin Hasard,

Où l'auguste Vertu, ton épouse encor vierge,

Où le Repentir même (oh! la dernière auberge!),

Où tout te dira Meurs, vieux lâche! il est trop tard!»

The Clock.

Clock! Sinister, ghastly, inexorable god,

Your fingers molest us and you say “Remember, you!”

The sleepy flutter of your terrified heart

Will be soon be planted, like a target;

Pleasure will disappear, like fog over the horizon

Like a beautiful actor, gone behind the scenes;

Every instant devours a little nibble of your delight,

Of the ration given to each man’s life.

Three thousand six hundred times an hour

The second whispers; “Remember, you!”

in an insects voice, “I am ancient,

And I sucked your life with my unclean prick.”

Remember! Souviens-toi! Esto memor! REMEMBER!

My robot throat speaks all languages.

All these moments, deadly little games, are worthless slag

From which you must pretend to extract gold!

Remember, you! that time is the opponent

Who will never cheat and never lose, this is the law.

The day is shorter; the night emptier; Remember, you!

The abyss is always thirsty, and the sand in the timer always runs out.

Sometime the hour will sound a divine call

And your still virginal virtue

And your last ditch repentance

Will all say to you - “Die, you old coward, it is too late.”

Charles Baudelaire


(Translated, badly, by me, now, seven thirty four pm on Friday)

The Tourist #56


“They do not so much share memories as ongoing or recent experiences. Photographs are less ‘clocks for seeing’ than performances of the now.”

Fucking millennials! Never having memories of all the unmemorable shit they do! (But perhaps having perfectly functioning memories of the meaningful things?)

There is a really interesting point here, it is only that it is not made, not elucidated maybe?
Memories still happen, nothing can turn a nothingy, shit boring funded by some tit trying to get rich “experience” into a truth-event.
Photographing something shit is just that, a shit. It is the photograph as the shit of a meal of the dirty dust that accumulates in the bottom of the cash drawer in the pop up cocktail and fair trade coffee bar.

But in defense of the young they cannot know that where they are is not important, that what they are doing is a fraud, not always, not yet. It is not their fault that the youth panels are consulted, that the young need to be given their chance to speak about what they want and what they need and what the future should look like etc etc. What training have they been given? Increasingly, more and more, they are given the training to be engaged and professional members of a neo-liberal conservative capitalist society. And the fuckers LAP it up. Its like being on Alan Sugars shitshow, who will make the grade to be the (fuck being an) Apprentice (I will be the fucking CEO right fucking NOW!). And they are given access to political meaning, and platform. But also to the most desperate desire to “succeed” which is to say, basically, to beat one another at getting jobs, while smiling and thanking one another profusely on social media. While desperately wanting to be the most interesting one but also wanting to maintain their ugly and ignorant sense of moral authority.

It is not the fault of the youth that what remains of any sense of authentic experience is one that you have to buy your way into with faux expertise and simulated enthusiasm, what else is there? What would you photograph, now, really? Wars and suffering is boring, not because you are inured to it but because to live one literally cannot take seriously what you see if you hope to maintain a functional relationship to the symbolic order. Love has been unmasked as the fraudulent whore of religion, still producing the strongest propaganda in the world’s worst novels and film buy ins.


The Tourist #55


“One example is the fashionable iPhone, perhaps the key gadget among the ‘new petty bourgeoisie’, which comes with a wide-screen where one can scroll from one photo to another by touching each image on the screen.”

I am struggling to get the Marxist point here a bit. The link is between marxism and touching stuff?

Only the rich can touch stuff? Only the rich could touch the paintings because they owned them? But everyone else had to not touch them because too many people touching them would ruin them? So it was about preservation, then? Or just access at all? That the rich were able to touch art because they were, ever, anywhere near it?

So touching things was good and not touching things was shit. And now the petty bourgeoisie can touch stuff so that’s better than only the ultra rich touching at stuff? The lower middle classes can reach oot and touch stuff? Beauty and the special messages of things, that you can access by touching them? So now the rich and the somewhat poorer can touch stuff and feel better because the touching of the stuff was what gave us a special understanding of the stuff?

The really poor can’t touch stuff. They have least access to stuff. Yet most likelihood of needing meaningful stuff to be surrounded by in order that their deeply less enjoyable, more painful and shorter lives can be made more bearable?

Is art a cat? Can I touch it, and then be a success? Does it prove that I can afford to be near it whether or not I understand it? Is it that if I can touch at stuff I am therefore more likely also to be able to afford the time to learn about the unnecessary surrounding stuff which would give me access to the meaning/beauty/truth of the stuff which I can now touch?
Does this work in practice? Is there a difference in understanding and meaning derived from photographs, cultural objects of any sort based on money?

For the most part the people I know who are closest, in touching distance, of art, are the least likely to actually give two fucks about allowing the meaning of that art to impact their existence which is, for the most part, one of blithe, transitory ignorance and indifference. It is only when we cannot touch what we can see that we can see what there is to be seen, that we can understand that there is something which is untouchable? It is not that the rich have the benefit but not the necessity, it is rather that the poor, if they are to become free from the desire to change from slave to master, if they are to avoid the notion of mastery entirely which is the only way to be free, then all they have to do is to recognise that being able to touch something bears no relation to being able to understand its depth, beauty, charge, violence and truth.  Is the lesson to be learned, in order to allow us all to share wealth more equally, for the rich to be less pathetic, to understand that we do not have to touch something to be party to its power? Is this not the central message of any religion? Not to worry about touching God, understanding that she is there, even though she is fictional, will be enough to charge your vision with more beauty than you could ever consume?

The Tourist #54


“And their corporeal and facial look is also potentially transformable as the ‘computer hand’ has the ability to reach into the guts of a photograph.”

At what point was nature representable without hands being involved?

Does the rose still have teeth in the mouth of the beast?

Life in the woods with the bears.

Visceral metaphors. Guts… gutsy.

Is the game, with words, which we cannot avoid and give meaning to everything which is not words, even if those things transcend or evade or decline words - not that we are always already trapped in representation? Still. Again.

And in this the giftcurse of irony?

Whether we are seeing nature or representation we are never and have never been getting what we are seeing only what we are reading and able to read and able to not read and notread. We are always handling everything, always in its guts, always in its face, its hair, its swear and its cunt. Always in its balls. In its blood and its viruses. We are in its phlegm, its black bile and its yellow bile, in its mucus and its blood. In its uteral lining. In its pre-come. In its cancer. In its deep vein thromboses and creutzfeldt jacobs disease/bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

The Tourist #53


“Holiday photographs can be consumed without being co-present with the photographer.”

Chicken Burgers can be consumed without being co-present with mud, grass, cows, drivers, abattoir workers, butchers, delivery persons, cooks or waiters.

The Tourist #52


“Indeed, many tourist sites examined in this book are Flickr-ised. Flickr contains 372,316 geotagged photos of the Eiffel Tower, 170, 966 of the Taj Mahal, 2,242,591 of Las Vegas, 364,841 of the Lake District and 105,716 of the Bilbao Guggenheim. ( .com; accessed 27.04.10)

Don’t these numbers, now, seem silly? Pathetically outdated? From only eight years ago we have “come so far”.

Communications technology makes a fool of empiricism, a fool of the scientist who indexes meaning as only a kind of idiot stoic, counting and recounting numbers which rise astronomically, like angels, like souls being raptured before the great tribulation.

Whether it is near or not the singularity has already decimated human becoming under the farcical, divine virtual gravity of data.

God died. Metaphysics died.

And, now,  grace is dead.

The Tourist #51


“Most images that survive deletion at this stage are uploaded to computers and viewed on yet another screen, the computer screen.”

Paper can be viewed under the following light sources -




Hazard lights.

The screens for heart monitors and other medical equipment.

Radars screens.

The glow from electric bar heaters.

The glow from electric conduction heaters.

The glow from Insect Zappers.

The flow from cracked light sticks.

The flashes made by electric eels.


Stroboscopic flash units.

The sun.

John Lewis Anglepoise lamps.

Argos Anglepoise lamps.

Anglepoise© anglepoise lamps.

IBM computer screens.

Apple Macintosh computer screens.

Simply Computers Personal Desktop Computer screens.

Sunlight reflected on snow.

Burning books.

Burning artworks.

Burning museums.

Burning bodies.

Burning paper.

Burning photographs.

Some images which are taken on transparent media are printed out onto paper.

Paper can be burned, consumed by fire. (As can negatives.)

Paper can be consumed and disintegrated in water.

Paper can be thrown away to rot with the landfill.

The Tourist #50


“The flexible digital camera represents a further twist to consumer society where ‘the presentation of the self’ takes a renewed importance.”

What the FUCK is a flexible digital camera? In 20 years fucking around with cameras for a job I have never ever heard this phrase.

The Tourist #49


“Consuming and deleting photographs have (sic) become part of producing photographs, which make (sic) it easier (yet time consuming because of retaking) to produce the anticipated images.”

The art of copy editing has been lost with those new fangled word processors.

The art of logic has been ignored with these new fangled continental philosophies being taken as academically read when routinely and universally not or misread.

The Tourist #48

There is the sense that those who make photographs are somehow less capable of engaging with the meaning of their act than those who do not, those who write about those who take photos.
Perhaps there is an instance of originary notions of Habitus and Doxa here? Here we can see the type of place where one might understand the impact of things we are doing which we do subconsciously (not unconsciously), in a kind of pre-thought state of distraction a la Benjamin?

A basic counter to which would be that we cannot imagine participating in pictures (as everyone does) without routinely excluding picture makers from the possibility of reflecting on the act in which they are engaged and its broader social history and projective consequences? In fact it would seem incredible to imagine that the people who are doing something are less capable of engaging intellectually with what they are doing than by people who are not doing it? Is it not rather like asking a priest for sex tips? And are the answers often roughly similar, the “critic” of photography (within the standard “schools” of critical thought - marxism, feminism, et al), very much in line with the priest qua sex, urging us, basically, not to participate?

Where Barthes is quite precise, initially at least, in defining his field as the advertising photograph, many other canonical photographic works take such enormous fields as “vernacular” or indeed merely all photography as their target. It is like reading a critique of “writing” as a critique of the entire enterprise of writing as such, not novels, not poetry, not anything, in fact, just writing, the writing down of anything about anything anytime ever. Which, then, really doesn’t amount to criticism at all, just floppy distaste.

It is fairer, is it not, to assume that those who make photographs might reasonably know what they know, and know that what they know is indelibly marked by the prejudices of having learned to know?

It will, in fact seem fairer to assume that those who make photographs will not only have understood the most basic prejudices one might pick up in learning a practice but also have, so to speak, bravely killed their fathers by having rejected some of what hey have learned.

Indeed they may well have, may well more importantly have, killed themselves, followed through not only on the act but on the attendant and obvious passage a l’acte presented by, in, of the photographic. To recognise by the photographic the conditions under which we live, now, to have used the photographic to illuminate the void and by having done so become aware of the void as such.

They may, then, have stopped. Or continued.

They may have died, or have been resurrected.

As reborn individuals having been rejuvenated, having reached a horizon and then passed it, gone beyond it. Transcended it.

We may, as a curator once advised me, “graduate” from being an artist into, up to, being a curator - having understood the shape, the conditions of the “real world” and “moved on” from all that. We could see two deaths here, and two resurrections. The death to the “real world”, which we might also imagine from the non-curators point of view as a pathetic failure and a total absenting of one’s responsibility as a speaking human - to join the bureaucracy rather than work at the face. We could see our fall into the depressing knowledge that the art world is quite as the “real” world, which is to say a savage, boring greedy bank, and then given in, – or we could have not. We could choose still to work in the Real “world”, instead. Not the “real world” but the Real “world. We could make in the face of our own utter powerlessness.

We can, if we choose, reject meaning and truth in favour of power and money. However this is unquestionably a sad death. Whether or not we actually believe in God, St Peter etc etc, the memory of us in the minds of others, the St Peter of the living, will judge us. And we should ask to be judged harshly.
There is a confusing line in Kempis’ Imitation of Christ…

“The more complete and better your knowledge, the stricter will be the judgement on you, unless you lead a holy life.”

Two. On Personal Humility.

(And others, less confusing, and more touristy…

“It is for this reason (to avoid temptation and remain accesible to grace) that the blessed Apostle Peter asks all the faithful in Christ to be as aliens in a foreign land.”

Fifty-three. God’s grace and worldly wisdom do not mix.

I would like to read both as I read the first chapter, which maybe is online somewhere? But I want to go outside and be an alien and learn things, so I can get the whip, later.)

The writer on photography knows about writing on photography. Which is not photography. Almost all writing on photography is unreadably dull.

The photographer knows something else, too. Something about something which is not written and not able to be written.
The photographer who also understands photographic writing may also accept more readily the notion of that which cannot be written as being also able to be known. (This is of course the central excuse of those photographers who fail to engage with writing of almost any sort and then apply this same lack of effort to their picture making - I am in no way advocating the sort of lazy mysticism of the “creative” advertising or fashion photographer, here.)

I say we must take the risk. Learn as much as you can. Think, die, act, reborn, think, die, act…

This may be what, for me, defines the practice of the artist?
The willingness to follow through each passage a l’acte, to sacrifice themselves over and over again, to the end, and the beginning, hoping that each time they are reborn they will still be able to act, again.

The Tourist #47


“This delete-ness represents something radically new.”

No it doesn’t.