Media and Travel: A Doubling of Place

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It was 2015, and I was about to set off on my first solo overseas adventure. As I wave to my family from the departure area, my mother shouts: “Don’t forget to take lots of pictures!”

Well, I certainly delivered on that front! Three months, four memory cards and almost eight-thousand photos later I returned to Australia exhausted but thrilled with my travel experience. I made grand plans to print the photos, thinking that waking up to the Scottish Highlands each morning would certainly do me good. While this may have been the case, as I began to settle back into the routines of normal life it became clear that there was no real need for the majority of images now stagnating on my mobile phone. Two years later and I only ever printed four images, while the rest lay untouched in a forgotten Facebook album. Part of me regrets taking so many photographs, because I can’t help but wonder if it stopped me from truly appreciating the world around me.

This got me thinking…

Why is it that tourists feel the need to document each and every moment on their personal devices? And what else are they doing on their smartphones? Are we losing an appreciation for physical places in favour of our virtual ones?

Throughout my exploration of the relationships between media, audience and place this semester, my mind kept flitting back to the thirty-nine almost identical images of the Eiffel Tower that I’d snapped years before. What effect did this have on my experience?In an attempt to understand the influence media connectivity has on our sense of place, I decided to conduct ethnographic and secondary research into tourist behaviours.

This study was conducted at the ever-popular tourist landmark, the Sydney Opera House. While observing the actions of those around me, I selected five individuals at random and conducted informal interviews based around their phone and travel behaviours. Each of these participants consented to their stories, and images, being shared, and were in fact enthusiastic to share their personal travel experiences.

I would like to warmly thank all those involved with this research, your time and words of wisdom are greatly appreciated.

To find out about the project, click the image below:

 

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Click to View the Presentation

 

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