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Panoptikum nr 8 (15) 2009
Jonathan Culler's classic semiotic analysis of tourism observes that tourism seems to have an inferior position as a subject of research for cultural critics, while it is one of the most interesting and informative phenomena of contemporary culture and as such demands the unbiased semiotic approach. Grounding his reflections in Dean McCannell's study The Tourist, Culler discusses differences between traveler and tourist, the authentic and the inauthentic, the natural and the touristy. He also explores the sight/marker relation in the sign structure of the touristic attraction and the complex interconnections between tourism and the world system of multinational capitalism.
The text is an attempt of a hermeneutical and phenomenological reinterpretation of the great film work of Antonioni, looking at its protagonist's problem with his never ending journey. Professione: Reporter is not only a continuation of the road movie genre started with Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider (1969). It is also a kind of philosophical reflection about ontological (in Heidegger's terms: ontology as a question of being - Sein) and epistemological meaning of the modernist and postmodernist life in permanent movement. Can we say what the world is not being immobile? Do we know who we are? Do time and place even exist? This text tries to answer those questions, paying attention to the motive of traveling and the contemporary city, which is a symbol of modern civilization and its instability, liquidity and lability. This article considers Antonioni's conjectural question: who will a man become without his place, without the roots, referring to the philosophical and sociological theories and media studies (Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Lévinas, Michel Foucault, Paul Virilio, Martin Jay, Anthony Giddens, Sigmund Bauman), and also to the history of art (Antonio Gaudí) and literature (Edgar Allan Poe, Max Frisch, Boris Vian).
Antonioni, in the classic way of filmmaking, shows the 'wrestling' of Professione: Reporter's protagonist with his own identity, which can't be and doesn't want to be stable because of the changing world. That protagonist doesn't agree on that pressuring fluency and also he knows from the beginning that his identity-journey leads to nowhere, that there's no moment of discovery. Antonioni sketches that film portrait in the moment of 'passage', balancing movement, wandering, but never finally agreeing to the postmodern condition of the self. And this fact allows to classify Antonioni as one of the masters of the cinema of reflection.
The paper concerns the relationship between the flâneur (a category common in the contemporary anthropological discourse) and the past. The Baudelaire's and Benjamin's figure of flâneur is defined as opposite to the conception of tourist (in the meaning Zygmunt Bauman attaches to it), and flâneur's gaze is compared to the one of photographer's, while taking sophisticated pictures of the city (as the subject of the paper are the shots of Paris taken by Bogdan Konopka, gathered in the cycle Paris en gris). Flâneur can be seen as a kind of historian-amateur, who - doing his stroll - 'reads' the city's past written in the architectural monuments, in the maze of the streets and courtyards, and seeks the 'passages' into the past (in this special meaning 'passage' - the term commonly referring to the arcades - is a metaphor naming a process of meeting the past, as well as a unique place in the space of the city, that makes this meeting possible). But the past is never there. It is gone and the only way to make it present again is to read its traces as allegory (according to Paul de Man, allegory - unlike the symbol - refers to the emptiness left after its referent's disappearance).
This is the way one can interpret the photographs taken by Bogdan Konopka. The emptiness of the streets, no human beings, just buildings, walls, doorways, gates and windows - all those elements, taken in a grayscale - can be understood as a metaphor of looking for the non - existing past, seeking the passages into it, reading Paris as the allegory (in a very de Manian way) of its own no-more-existing-past - just in the way a flâneur would do that.
Newly available lightweight cine camera equipment provided affluent British holiday-makers with an innovative travel accessory in the mid 1920s. Travel narratives produced by early camera-touting enthusiasts may be likened to preceding forms of travel experience depicted in art and written form, but important differences occur too. This discussion explores issues of place representation, ethnography and perceptions of regional identities, cultures, and histories through reference to amateur holiday footage filmed in the Balkans in 1934. Analysis of rural and urban scenes, traditions, and itinerary, as well as the cinematic processes found within this filmic travelogue, are related to earlier outsiders' responses and contemporary travel texts including guides, diaries and other genres of travel literature. Contemporary debates on post-conflict identity in the Balkan region and tourism history within the Mediterranean, as well as socio-cultural and aesthetic aspects of non-professional film making form a wider context for this focus upon Balkan imagery.
Heather Norris Nicholson
Based on the BA thesis Traveler in the Land of Mass Media. Modern Polish Travelebrities and Their Travelogues, the article focuses on current phenomena related to travel writing and introduces the term and idea of travelebrity, i.e. a person who is well-known because of his or her travel stories. The text indicates significant changes within forms and meanings of travel writing which have appeared since the birth of mass society and the invention of motion picture, radio and the Internet. By presenting new functions of travelogues (a mock participation and ersatz travelling experience) and describing various methods of talking about journeys in the mass media (a live broadcast, directed program or news), the author creates the background for a new type of idol. By recalling Joseph Campbell's concept of monomyth, she emphasizes the relationship between the journey and the status of a hero. Before introducing the concept of travelebrity, the author briefly describes celebrity culture and existing necessity for personified desires. The term 'travelebrity' is explained in terms of the reason for its coinage (lack of a proper term), its definition, linguistic origin ('traveller' + 'celebrity') and description of the 'travelebrity' phenomenon. Travelebrity, whose position is firm, may evolve into a celebrity, because their engagement with mass-media often occurs to be a destructive one as a person becomes a victim of objectification and is covered by their public image. The article is ended with the reflection on the problem of truth of travelogues and the authenticity of travelebrities.
Ewa Mazierska and Laura Rascaroli
crossroads and limitations of contemporary European transnational cinema
Today - at a time when Europe's dramatic transformations are at the centre of key political, economic, and cultural discourses, and when so many European films are multinational co-productions - the concept of transnationality offers new metaphors to redefine continental cinema, and to explore its mutating productive and distributing contexts, as well as artistic practices. And yet, the transnational is a problematic notion, and its application to the cinema as a theoretical and investigative tool still awaits full clarification. Sometimes simply used in its sense of 'involving or operating in several nations', or as a synonym of 'international', the term 'transnational' introduces at least two ideas that can be usefully applied to contemporary cinema: the notion of industrial or aesthetic situations in which the nationality of a film is annulled, or no longer matters; and the status of films that involve and problematize cross-border practices and identities. However, many questions are left unanswered - for instance, the rationale of the production and reception of transnational cinema; or the ways in which contemporary transnational films differ from prior practices of co-production and international collaboration. At the purpose of advancing our understanding of the notion of the transnational in a cinematic context, this paper explores cultural, economic, ideological, and aesthetic facets of contemporary European cinema, taking as its object of study two different genres, both of which are naturally inclined to international, multinational or transnational dimensions - the portmanteau film and the road movie.
We focus first on the portmanteau film, and especially the recent example, Paris, Je t'aime (France/Liechtenstein/Switzerland 2006). By situating it in a number of contexts, including earlier films on Paris such as Paris vu par.(1965) and Paris vu par. vingt ans apres (1984), and by discussing its productive, artistic, and thematic features, we test the assumption that Paris, Je t'aime is a quintessential transnational film, and discuss those elements of national identity that were either transcended or preserved by the filmmakers. Then we ask what happens when a European film travels beyond the national borders, and goes on the road at the specific purpose of testing the limits of national and cultural identities. Our examples are Robert Guédiguian's Le Voyage en Arménie (France 2006) and Ismaël Ferroukhi's Le Grand Voyage (France/Morocco 2004) - two recent road movies that depart from the heart of Old Europe and travel to or beyond its margins.
Ewa Mazierska and Laura Rascaroli
Road movie is considered to be an American film convention typical for '70. However, their plots are based on an old motive known from legends, myths and parables, from the stories about saving the world. The road movie main character is usually a person in the street, not very beautiful, not very talented and not very interesting. The character is usually introduced while in trouble and because of it must start on a journey during which he or she will become a hero. Sometimes the main character is rich and happy, someone who leads a calm life and because of some very important reason he or she has to leave it and start a journey which will change him and make his past life impossible. Generally, there are 4 kinds of the road movie's characters: hikers, escapers, travelers and wanderers. In one story there are usually two or more characters, because the most important moment of the plot is a meeting. The meeting of two different people establishes opportunity to get to know their life stories, to confront two different worlds and to change the world-view of main characters.
I have demonstrated the typical road movie's structure on the basis of 6 films: "Beneath Clouds" (by Ivan Sen, Australia 2002), "Scarecrow" (by Jerry Schatzberg, USA 1973), "The Ride" (by Jan Svěrák, Czech Republic 1994), "The Motorcycle Diaries" (by Walter Salles, South America 2004), "Paris, Texas" (by Wim Wenders, France, Great Britain, Germany 1984) and "Permanent Vacation" (by Jim Jarmusch, USA 1980).
In one of the papers printed in the "Two sketches on postmodern morality" Zygmunt Bauman describes four types of postmodern identities. Bauman chooses as a best example showing the idea of postmodern's episodic character a tv series. The author of this article chooses a crime drama as yet another example of that theory. The main character of the "Cop" (dir. by Wladysław Pasikowski) is a police officer that could be considered as an example of a "walker". He also represents a classic type of masculinity which is, despite the gender discourse, rather stable. The player - described by Bauman, as a type ready for both: loosing and gaining, whereas none is eternal - is typical for the "Kryminalni" series. The last example considered in the article is the "Pitbull" (created by Patryk Vega). The police officers shown in the drama are no longer representing the "macho-type", because the classic masculinity is being deconstructed. It is also almost impossible to decide which of Bauman's identity types they could represent, because their behavior is not foreseeable. It is the best example of the postmodern instability.
Two American professors of mass communication: James Wilson and Stan Wilson have written that "by the 1990s a television version of the titillating sensationalism of tabloid newspapers had emerged as a new genre of television programming". They had in mind mostly tabloid TV based on crime, blood and sex. New millennium has brought another kind of entertainment, inspired by 9/11 terror attacks. It includes new genres of television, Hollywood movies etc., and becomes a profitable branch of mass culture. Since 9/11 American moviemaking refreshed political fiction, but this time it is focused on the Islamic idea of jihad. 21st century has changed nature of this traditional Muslim term. According to Benjamin Barber jihad stopped to be Islamic and nowadays the idea becomes part of Western point of view: a reason to support American propaganda hidden inside mass distributed movies. Barber explains jihad as a postmodern ideology which uses financial infrastructure and show business to spread on.
The article deals with the issue of the horror genre in the Polish People's Republic's filmmaking. An indication of the trends that defined the acceptability limits for developing the supranational potential of horror cinema during communist times is accompanied by a discussion of the phenomena inherent to the few of horror movies that were produced at that time.
This essay is dedicated to Ermano Olmi's oeuvre. Miller analyzes four of his feature films (The Job, The Engagement, Long Live the Lady! and The Legend of the Holy Drinker), pointing out that the main motif that connects them is travel. It could be considered literally (all main characters of Olmi's films are emigrants) or in a metaphorical way - as a psychological journey. Miller concludes her essay with the analysis of The Legend of the Holy Drinker. According to her, this movie sums up Olmi's views on life regarded as travel from birth to the "earthly death" - here the homo viator figure is replaced by homo peregrinus. Therefore, it could be claimed that Olmi's cinema focuses on "coming back home" scheme, which enables the protagonists to sustain their self-identities.
The article entitled Italian Trip. See Naples and Die concerns gay and homosexual voyages to the Apennine peninsula. The author tries to construct a typology of these trips using Georg Simmel's analysis of ruins presented by the German philosopher in his essay entitled The Ruin. The ruins are metaphor of such organized trips in the modern and postmodern era as well. On the one hand their monumental scale and age may be an alleged reason for a trip (like for Winckelmann were) and their antiquity and Greco-Roman affiliation are the most important point of reference for all of the travelers mentioned in the text (Winckelmann, Thomas Mann and Wilhelm von Gloeden for instance). On the other hand, the sorry state of the ruins is their symbolic power connected with such categories as: decomposition, breakdown, impermanence, and death. This ambiguity is characteristic not only for the ruins but for the trips as well. Hence, death and passing are the second face of the trips. In other words, the Italian trips are always made in the face of death. So, the second part of the text describes two American trips that consciously repeat that ambivalence and tension between Eros and Thanatos. The first one is Nan Goldin's travel to Italy, the second one - Felix Gonzalez-Torres's trip to Paris. By the analysis of photographs made by the artists, the author reveals modernist and Simmelian aspects of AIDS.
The author outlines a story of Kazimierz Nowak, Polish traveler who crossed over Africa on a bicycle in 1930s. The article aims to describe the role of the photography and the bicycle in his journey. It also tries to describe Kazimierz Nowak as a flâneur and as a tourist. Furthermore, the text outlines the history of Polish colonial pretensions and the activity of Liga Morska i Kolonialna, the official Polish institution who fought unsuccessfully for the Polish colonies through the thirties.
Foreign non-places and foreigners out-of-place. On works of Julian Opie and Ingrid Pollard
The article discusses representations of English rural landscape in the works of two British artists: Julian Opie and Ingrid Pollard. The analysis of Opie's work entitled Imagine That You Are Moving (2001) employs the term of non-places, coined by Marc Auge. According to Auge's definition, non-places are characterized by the lack of any link with history or identity. Opie's set of light-boxes presenting stylized images of English low-land landscape, inserted in transfer zones of London's Heathrow Airport, transforms the typical non-place of an airport into a place, which is characterized by a clear reference to a given context and identity. What is interesting is that for a representation of a typical English view Opie chose a rural low-land landscape, which is stereotypically perceived as quintessentially English.
Similar representations of rural English landscape appear on photographs by Ingrid Pollard, who is a Black British artist born in Guyana. The photographs entitled Pastoral Interludes (1989) show the artist's figure surrounded by landscape of the Lake District and are accompanied by text which comments on her feeling of unease resulting from being an "intruder" in the "white" countryside. Despite her strong attachment to the region of the Lake District and to the poetry of the Lake Poets, Pollard's sense of Englishness is denied her due to the prevailing relation between nature and the accepted culture of Englishness which excludes her as a "foreigner".
The comparison between Opie's and Pollard's works suggests that Opie's work, though it invests the non-place of an airport with given context and identity, does not take into account the specific exclusionary character of English rural landscape.
Donald Judd created the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, as a very sophisticated space for art far away from NYC and other art centers. The artist was interested in placing his work in a more permanent manner than was possible in gallery or museum shows. This would later lead him to push for permanent installations for his work and that of others, as he believed that temporary exhibitions, being designed by curators for the public, placed the art itself in the background, ultimately degrading it due to incompetency or incomprehension. The specific intention of Chinati is to preserve and present to the public permanent large-scale installations by a limited number of artists. The emphasis is on works in which art and the surrounding landscape are inextricably linked. The Chinati Foundation is located in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert, which is the most important background for it. Driving to the place is a common experience for visitors.
Tourism - mail art 2.0.
Tourism was an important though not very well recognized episode in mail art movement. Initiated by Hans Rudi Fricker and Günther Ruch in 1986, it encouraged mail artists to meet each other in a series of more than 80 congresses which were arranged within the International Mailart Congress. The idea of tourism was based on the need for establishing personal contacts between mail artists, dispersed all over the world. The paper analyzes the impact of tourism and its current reception. Is tourism a utopian idea or is it a forecast of the need for interactivity, expressed today in Web 2.0 numerous applications? Is it also a coincidence that the call for tourism was in mid-eighties, when the fall of Iron Curtain was soon to happen and the urgency of global communication was in the air. The first mail art congress, where the idea of tourism was presented, was at the same time, the last "analogue" one. The next one involved the emerging medium of the Internet, which has changed the relation between art and communication. The most important features of mail art, which was in 70s, described as correspondence art, have shifted from correspondence and a distant contact, to networking, which meant a closer alliance and a different structure. The change from mail art to networking had profound consequences for all the movement, based on communication and collaboration within a postal system. They may be compared to the current change from Web 1.0 as a social phenomenon, to the 2.0 version, with its possibilities of instant interaction and a unique balance between dispersal and unity.
"You can try to conceive the phenomenon of contemporary tourism in various ways, although I do not intend to enclose it in one definition." - explains Anna Wieczorkiewicz in introduction to her new book. After the reading "Apetyt turysty. O doświadczeniu świata w podróży", which refers to a wide range of the latest anthropological theories, and deals with all contemporary phenomena of tourism, one can resume that every explicit and univocal estimation of tourism appears to be a pure naivety. What is most important in this research is that the author does not evaluate or estimate univocally any mode of life or experiencing. As she states in the introduction, she does not aim to "explain", but to "understand" the contemporary phenomena of tourism by applying different, suitable anthropological methods. The author claims that the pivotal ideas which this book concerns are "the desire of authenticity" and "the culture of representation". However, equally important appears to be the depiction of anti-oculocentric modes of perception, that are determining the latest trends of mass tourism. In the last essay of Wieczorkiewicz's book she presents her new ideas on the metonymies of Anatomist and Cannibal and conceives new prospects on the primal and irreducible conditions of Western culture. In the second part of this review I tried to refer the metonymies of Anatomist and Cannibal to the process of melancholy, that was described by Freud as fundamental for the formation of European subjectivity. What connects psychoanalysis and the ideas of Anna Wieczorkiewicz is the emphasis made on corporality and the traumatic intersection between corporality and language.