Material cultures of tourism

Material Cultures of Tourism


Department of Geography and International Development Studies, Roskilde University, Denmark;

**Centre for Mobility Research, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, UK

ABSTRACT Despite the fact that tourists constantly interact corporeally with things and physical places, tourist studies have failed to understand the significance of materiality and objects in modern tourism. Like much theory and research influenced by the 'cultural turn', tourist (and leisure) studies have melted everything solid into signs. This article is inspired by current calls for a renewed engagement with the 'material' in social and cultural geography and sociology. It introduces questions of materiality and material culture into cultural accounts of contemporary leisure and tourism, in particular in relation to space and 'human' performances. In doing so it stresses the inescapable hybridity of human and 'nonhuman' worlds. It is shown that leisure and tourist practices are much more tied up with material objects and physical sensations than traditionally assumed and that emblematic tourist performances involve, and are made possible and pleasurable by, objects, machines and technologies. Thus we suggest that further engagement with the 'material' would be the constructive path to follow for future leisure and tourist studies.

KEYWORDS: material culture; non-representational theory; objects; performance; tourism

Here is a paradox. Tourism abounds with things, tourist things, and tourists are tied up in a world of tourist things for a considerable period of their time. And yet, if you read all the past and current textbooks on will discover that these things are not held to be very significant...tourist things tend to be significant only in what they represent; as a meaningful set of signs and metaphors... (Franklin, 2003: p. 97)

Objects are back in strength in contemporary social theory...After poststructuralism and constructivism has melted everything that was solid into air, it was perhaps time that we noticed once again the sensuous immediacy of the objects we live, work and converse with, in which we routinely place our trust, which we love and hate, which bind us as much as we bind them. (Pels et al., 2002: p. 1)


Despite the fact that tourists constantly interact corporeally with umbrellas, walking boots, sunglasses, sun beds, benches, walking paths, sand beaches, souvenirs, maps, suitcases, cars, cameras and many other things and physical places, tourist studies have failed to understand the significance of materiality and objects in modern tourism, the 'sensuous immediacy' of material culture to tourists. Like much theory and research influenced by the 'cultural turn' in the social sciences, tourist (and leisure) studies have melted 'everything that was solid into air', or, even better, signs (Jackson, 2000; Philo, 2000). By emphasizing cognitive and human processes such as thinking, imagining, interpreting and representing, it has dematerialized bodies, things and places as culturally inscribed signs or imagescapes, to sign-value. Such a perspective has been blind to the fact that 'nonhumans' such as objects and technologies enable human agency and are crucial in making leisure and tourism geographies happen-able and perform-able. It has wrongly portrayed the world of leisure and tourism as a purely human accomplishment.

This article examines recent writings within sociology, geography and anthropology on material culture and hybrid geographies with an agenda of promoting non-representational and hybrid theory in leisure and tourist studies (Hinchliffe, 1996, 2003; Murdoch, 1996; Dant, 1998, 1999; Miller, 1998; Whatmore, 1999, 2002; Michael, 2000; Ingold, 2000a; Crouch, 2002, 2003a). This literature shows how objects, technologies and material environments can no longer be evaded by social and cultural theory because culture and social life is intricately tied up with and enabled by various 'nonhumans'. It is argued that material, cultural and social are not autonomous worlds, but intertwine and interact in all kinds of promiscuous combinations. And the inescapable hybridity of 'human' and 'nonhuman' worlds is stressed (Thrift, 1996: p. 24).

This work on hybrid geographies and material culture has recently inspired tourism researchers to write accounts of tourism as embodied, multi-sensuous and technologized performances through which people are actively involved in the world, imaginatively and physically (Lfgren, 1999; Crouch, 2002, 2003a, 2003b; Franklin, 2003; Pons, 2003; Brenholdt et al., 2004). Such studies enable us to see how tourist performances involve, and are made possible and pleasurable by, objects, machines and technologies. We argue that tourism things are crucial in tourism performances primarily because they have use-value that enhances the physicality of the body and enables it to do things and sense realities that would otherwise be beyond its capabilities. Tourism is much more tied up with physical sensations than traditionally assumed. In arguing this we emphasize that no sharp dividing line should be drawn between leisure, tourism and everyday life practices. On the contrary, we argue, they connect, overlap and are woven together in human, social and embodied practice through various performances (such as movement and memory) of various tourist and leisure spaces.

First, we begin by briefly discussing how cultural studies in tourist studies have been dominated by a visual or representational paradigm that has examined material culture in relation to 'symbolic value' through semiotic analysis with the result that the 'use-value' of things have been trivialized. Then we examine how recent writing on material culture and non-representational theory enable us to materialize tourist studies without killing the imaginative and emotional qualities of tourist encounters. We then materialize and embody the spaces and places of tourism. It is shown that a practice-orientated performance perspective can illuminate the heterogeneous and enacted thing-ness of landscapes as well as tourists' hybrid performances within and upon them. Finally, we examine how researchers have begun to study photography and mobility as hybrid performances.

Materializing Tourism Cultures

The hegemonic position of the 'representational' in cultural studies of tourism illustrates the 'dematerialized' nature of much tourist writing. In MacCannell's writing on 'authenticity' (1976), Urry's (early) notion of the 'tourist gaze' (1990, 1995), Shields's work on 'place-myths' (1991), Selwyn's collection on 'myths and myth making' (1996), and indeed Hitchcock and Teague's (2000) book on souvenirs, material objects exist as symbolic entities that humans see, photograph and engage with mentally, but never touch or interact with bodily. Natural surroundings and objects are seen as signifying social constructs that can be unveiled through authoritative semiotic readings rather than in terms of how they are used and lived within practice. As a consequence, numerous studies have examined how postcards, brochures, paintings and other representational material instruct tourists' gazes and, inscribe places with fantasies and power relations (e.g. Goss, 1993; Dann, 1996a, 1996b; Edwards, 1996; Selwyn, 1996, Markwick, 2001; Waitt & Head, 2002). This has produced insightful accounts of the 'symbolic values' of tourism objects, but rendered insignificant their 'use-values'.

This partly reflects the fact that in the social sciences culture is conventionally treated as something mental and human, a 'way of life' without thing-ness, occupying the minds of people and their social representations. Such accounts separate humans from nonhumans to create a genuine 'social world'. In so doing they produce an artificial dualism between culture and materiality where the former dictates the latter by inscribing discursive worlds into and upon them. To quote Ingold:

Understood as a realm of discourse, meaning and value inhabiting the collective consciousness, culture is conceived to hover over the material world but not to permeate it. In this view, in short, culture and materials do not mix; rather, culture wraps itself around the universe of material things, shaping and transforming their outward surfaces without ever penetrating their interiority. (2000b: p. 53)

Instead of positioning humans over and against the material world, Ingold suggests a shift of perspective. Drawing on Merleau-Ponty, Ingold (2000a, 2000b) argues that the human body is not so much in space as belonging to space. Bodily practices are already oriented towards actions in the world (Merleau-Ponty, 1962: p. 142). Hence, humans are inscribed in the world and do not merely ascribe meaning to it. They inhabit it from their birth onwards, they use it, and their capabilities (language, the ability to use tools and so forth) are products of this active use. This argument is in line with Latour's assertion that things and humans do not exist without being full of the other. To consider humans necessarily involves considering objects, and vice versa. In this sense, nonhumans 'empower' humans and enable 'agency' (Latour, 1993, 2000; see also Michael, 2000; Whatmore, 2002). From such perspectives '[c]ulture exists neither in our minds, nor does it exist independently in the world around us, but rather is an emergent property of the relationship between persons and things' (Graves-Brown, 2000: p. 4). Culture is a relational achievement between humans and nonhumans, 'involving the creative 278 M. Haldrup and J. Larsen presence of organic beings, technological devices and discursive codes, as well as people, in the fabrics of everyday living' (Whatmore, 1999: p. 26; see also Bingham, 1996: p. 647). It follows that we can no longer equate culture with intentionality and linguistic competences because this will exclude the work of objects and reproduce a mistaken dichotomy between language and the world (Whatmore, 1999: p. 30). Discourses, sensuous bodies, machines, objects, animals and places are choreographed together and build heterogeneous cultural orders that have the capacity to act, to have effects and affects. Material cultures are simultaneously practical, expressive and symbolic; they are heterogeneous (Michael, 2000), having both 'sign-value' and 'use-value'. The relationality between things and people in material worlds is clued up with imaginations, cultural styles, feelings and emotions (Sheller, 2004). 'In a culture which favours bricolage, simulation, performativity and acting-as-if, we have increasingly learned to calculate and play with this radical indeterminacy between the real, the not-so-real and the imaginary' (Pels et al., 2002: p. 3).

Following this work, we suggest that it is necessary to leave behind 'the tourist as such and to focus upon the contingent networked performance and production of places that are to be toured and remade as they are toured' (Brenholdt et al., 2004: p. 151). Franklin argues similarly that what ought to interest us in tourism is precisely the 'links and relationships between humans, machines, animals and plants and an enormous universe and variety of objects' (2003: p. 98) and the effects they produce. By moving from discursive models towards more corporeal and object-mediated ones we can stress how tourists also encounter things through the hands, through corporeal proximity as well as distanced contemplation. We become involved with things. From this perspective tourists engage with material cultures because they are useful. Things and technologies can be understood as 'prostheses' that enhance the physicality of the body and enable it to do things and sense realities that would otherwise be beyond its capability (Parrinello, 2001: p. 210; see also Lury, 1998). Tourist things acquire value - use-value - through being employed in embodied and poetic practices, in and through the sensuous materiality of the body. The 'dramaturgical landscapes' of tourism's material culture comprise physical places, fantasylands and mediaworlds in a single human world of possibilities, of experiments with identities, social roles and relations, and interactions with places (Lfgren, 1999: p. 7).

The Materiality of Tourist Landscapes

In tourist studies, discussions of place have been associated with visual consumption (Andrews, 1989; Ousby, 1990; Urry, 1995) and landscape as a 'way of seeing' (Cosgrove, 2003). Discussions have focused upon how landscapes dematerialize nature by transforming it into socially constructed 'wallpaper' consumed - controlled and possessed - by an aloof 'mobile eye'. The focus has been upon the 'semiological realization of space' (Ringer, 1998), or how representational cultures make space (Andrews, 1989; Shields, 1991; Urry, 1995). By contrast, writers like Michael (2000), Franklin (2002), Hinchliffe (2003) and Ingold (2000a) propose a 'material semiotics' or 'dwelling approach' to landscape in which material, social and cultural aspects of place sedimentation are integrated.

As Cresswell (2003) and Michael (2000) argue, landscape as a 'way of seeing' presupposes an outworn distinction between humans and environments that precludes us from seeing the intimate, sensuous performances between humans and material 'affordances' (on the concept of 'affordances' see Gibson, 1977). There is much more to the construction of landscapes than social construction: it is a heterogeneous process where static and mobile 'nonhumans' as well as embodied, sensuous 'humans' play their part. Thus, instead of portraying landscapes as a purely cognitive matter of inscribing already existing surfaces with beauty, narratives and myths, as tourist researchers have preferred to do, they are concerned with how landscapes are habitually and practically built up from within by the mutual involvement of 'humans' and 'nonhumans' already dwelling and performing in the world, working from within the world, not upon it (Ingold, 2000b: p. 68). As Szersynski et al. suggest:

Out of this mutual improvisation one loses a sense of nature as pre-figured and merely being 'played out'; instead, the performance of nature appears as a process open to improvisation, creativity and emergence, embracing the human and the non-human. (2003: p. 4) Such work allows Crouch to argue that tourism performances of and within nature take place in and through multidimensional spaces: 'We live places not only culturally, but bodily' (Crouch et al., 2001: p. 259). Tourists necessarily bring their gendered, aged, sexed and racialized bodies with them, and they inescapably see, hear, smell, touch and taste the landscapes they travel in and through. Places and experiences are physically and poetically grasped and mediated through the sensuous body. This is the basic corporeality underlying all sensuous experiences of tourism. It is through our bodies-in-motion that we perform, and 'make sense' - physically, semiotically and poetically - of spaces and places. Rather than being there simply for observation nature is mobilized into multiple possibilities of significance. As Crouch argues in his studies of allotment practices, 'the materiality of nature may be practiced in relation to artifacts through which memory, identity and a sense of being in the world may be forged' (2003b: p. 25). The art of allotments is, in Crouch's account, in no way prefigured. Instead creativity and texture emerge out of the repetitive performances of gardening. Nature, landscape and leisure spaces emerge from the material 'lay geographies' performed by their practitioners. They are not prefigured but made - and made sense of - through practical actions. Once the classic Cartesian dualism of mind and body is rejected, it follows that imagination, fantasy and 'making sense' are embodied, and part of embodiment:

[T]he essential character of space in tourism practice is its combination of the material and the metaphorical. Once we acknowledge the subject as embodied and tourism as a practice it is evident that our body does encounter space in its materiality; concrete components that effectively surround our body are literally 'felt'. However, that space and its contents are also apprehended imaginatively, in series and combinations of signs. Furthermore, those signs are constructed through our own engagement, imaginative engagement, and are embodied through our encounter in space and with space. (Crouch, 2002: p. 208) While cherished for their serenity and untouched, scenic natures in tourism discourses, 'landscapes' have a dense materiality of roads, cars, buses, bridges, buildings, restaurants, paths, viewing-stations, monuments, cornfields, woods and 280 M. Haldrup and J. Larsen so on that afford certain landscape performances and not others. Places and landscapes are not encountered 'naked' but through the deployment of a variety of 'prosthetic' objects and technologies. Technologies are central to how people appear to grasp the world and make sense of it. They are crucial to how places are (or can be) encountered and perceived. Technologies afford and affect subsequent affordances (Michael, 2000; Ingold & Kurttila, 2001; Sheller & Urry, 2004). They are material surfaces that afford increased bodily capabilities, and as such they expand the 'affordances' that nature permits the otherwise 'pure' body. In his fascinating study of 'mundane hybrids' Michael brings out the crucial role that walking boots play in 'affording' leisurely country walks (2000). They 'afford' more pleasant walking and they make certain surfaces walk-able that would be painful, if not impossible to traverse barefooted or even in ordinary shoes. When one reads historical accounts of 19th-century picturesque landscape as a 'way of seeing' (Andrews, 1989; Ousby, 1990; Lfgren, 1999) in such a perspective, it becomes evident that this 'visual landscape' only came into being through a relational network mediated by a specialized visual sense that was based on: the technologies of the camera obscura; Claude glasses and later photographic cameras; techniques and performances of sketching, picturing and gazing contemplatively, with reference to visual art; images and texts, mobile drawings, paintings, photos, guidebooks, roadmaps and so on; and material environments of idyllic villages, serene landscapes and developed environments with vantagepoints (viewing-stations, balconies, etc.) and walking paths. This landscape vision depended on various objects and mundane technologies, and it undercut 'simple dichotomies of what is natural and unnatural, what is countryside and what is urban, and what are subjects and what are supposedly objects' (Macnaghten & Urry, 2001: p. 2). While culturally constituted, it was not without a material 'reality': it circulated in mobile cultural objects, it became built into the environment, and embodied landscape performances took place in and had an affect on it. The social construction of landscape 'entails, at a minimum, the circulation of paper and bodies and manifold other materials' (Michael, 2000: p. 50). Such circulating objects also afford memories of places. The individual and collective memory work of reflection and recall tends to be organized around material objects of various sorts: clothes, furniture, artwork, jewellery, personal photographs and so on (Radley, 1990: pp. 57-58). While souvenirs and other memory objects, such as photographs, often are portrayed as purely semiotic (see, for instance, Hitchcock & Teague, 2000), we argue that the materiality of souvenirs and photographs is integral to their functioning and that touristic remembering is often a hybrid performance. Material culture plays a crucial role in enabling and 'storing' human memories, often in unpredictable and unconscious ways. As Marcel Proust reflected more generally:

The past is hidden somewhere in the realm...beyond the reach of the intellect, in some material object (in the sensation which that material object will give us) of which we have no inkling. And it depends on chance whether or not we come upon this object before we must die. (quoted in Kwint, 1999: p. 2) But not only personal photographs afford memories in such ways. So does modern tourism's ubiquitous material culture of travelling objects such as food, drinks, clothes, furniture, artwork, jewellery and so on. These may encapsulate the atmosphere of particular tourist places as well as embodied memories of spicy food, the warm sun, the smells of the harbour, the sounds of the bazaar and so on. Apparently trivial objects turn into supernatural mementos when brought home as souvenirs. They keep the short-lived holiday magically alive. While landscape as a 'way of seeing' can be re-imagined as a heterogeneous performance, the major problem with this view is that it is too tied up with 'distanced' spectatorship and not enough with 'acting' and embodiment. In addition to looking at landscapes, tourists enact them corporeally and they do so with various circulating technologies. They step into the 'landscape picture', and engage in bodily, sensuous and expressive ways with their materiality and 'affordances'. Landscape as a 'way of seeing' must be complemented by an idea of 'landscape as stage'. This landscape has a dense materiality of scenery, sets and so on that crucially not only signifies and stirs the imagination, but enables things and enactments. It thus involves a lack of distance between humans, material environments and objects. Material surfaces and fluids are experienced directly through the active, moving, hybridized body. A 'romantic' landscape affords spaces for countless activities such as picnicking, running, sex, a football game, river-rafting and bungee jumping: 'nature, for many tourist consumers, has evolved from something to look at, to something to leap into, jet boat through, or turn completely upside down in: "the inverted sublime!" (bungee jumping)' (Bell & Lyall, 2002: p. 27). A beach is not just distanced scenery but comprises surfaces and liquids affording bodily pleasures such as sunbathing, swimming and building sandcastles with friends and family.

In Performing Tourist Places (Brenholdt et al., 2004) such an alternative reading of the places and spaces of tourist performance is offered through the metaphor of 'the sandcastle'. Like sandcastles, tourist places are tangible yet fragile constructions, hybrids of mind and matter, imagination and presence, culture and nature. The castle only comes into existence by drawing together particular objects, mobilities and hybrid performances. There are imaginative mobilities circulating in the global flows of representational objects such as photographs, postcards, brochures, films and representational technologies like the Internet and television sets, which during long winter nights help people to dream of and relive sun-drenched summer beaches. There are corporeal mobilities, such as the journey to a holiday region, a day trip, and the dense choreography of a family moving around and building the sandcastle. These necessitate road networks, widespread access to private cars, holiday housing, camping sites, beach hotels, restaurants, public holiday legislation, planning legislation, road maps, guidebooks, ideologies of domesticity, the nuclear family and so on. Then there is the fine-grained sand with its alternating wet and dry textures. Then there are object mobilities such as dead fish, stones and mussels by the shore or on the beach that may have travelled thousands of miles and are gathered together by eager children's hands and helpful parents, fetching buckets of seawater for the moat. The tools for building, such as buckets and spades, are brought in the family car (perhaps from a neighbouring country) but will have been manufactured and transported from China or a similar low-wage country. Buckets and spades enable the mobilization of sand and water that is necessary for human hands to build the sandcastle.

The 'sandcastle' is a heterogeneous order drawing imaginative, corporeal and object mobilities together. These mobilities are all elements of the networks that stabilize and regulate the sedimented practices that transform the endless mass of white, golden, fine-grained or gravelly sand into a habitat; a kingdom of sand imbued with dreams, hopes and pride. The sandcastle illustrates how places are dynamic, 'places of movement' (Hetherington, 1997; Coleman & Crang, 2002). They travel, slow or fast, over greater or shorter distances, within networks of humans, objects, discourses, technologies and material environments. Places are about relationships, about the placing of peoples, materials, images and the systems of difference and similarity that they perform. Places to tour are themselves toured by touring actors, objects and imaginative geographies materialized and mobilized in and through photographs, films, television programmes, souvenirs, clothes, food and so on (Brenholdt & Haldrup, 2004; Sheller & Urry, 2004). The sandcastle further demonstrates how the existence of a particular physical environment, object or technology does not itself produce a tourist place; these are nothing but potential; dreams of something that may happen. A pile of appropriately textured sand and sandcastle tools is nothing until there is embodied activity, performances of nature.

Photographing and 'movement' are two such emblematic performances in tourism that have both material effects and affects. Drawing upon our own research and various others, the following two sections briefly flesh out how photography, car driving and windsurfing as hybrid performances that take place in material landscapes and employ circulating, responsive technologies.

Photography as a Hybrid Performance

Photography has not been sufficiently examined in relation to material cultures and concrete bodily performance; it has been caught within a 'determining' economy of representations and discourses. In much literature, the camerawork of tourists are too easily and too quickly seen as passive, superficial and disembodied, a discursively prefigured activity of 'quotation'. While photographing is performed in relation to almost all aspects of contemporary leisure and tourist life, in academic accounts photographing tourists are presented as framed and fixed by commercial representations rather than framing; preformed rather than performing (see Albers & James, 1983; Osborne, 2000: p. 81; Urry, 2002: p. 129; Jenkins, 2003). In contrast, drawing on writings on material culture and non-representational theory, Larsen (2003, 2005) theorizes tourist photography as an embodied performance performed through heterogeneous actor-networks of photographers, actors and spectators, technologies, materials and pictures, scripts and practices. In this perspective photography is not understood as either a technological object or a discursive order, but as a hybrid of technology, discourse and practices that all 'act'. Photographic agency is a relational effect that first comes into force when a heterogeneous network of humans and nonhumans are in place, as Latour (1991) shows in his analysis of Kodak. The meanings and powers of modern photography are the result of a mixture of forces and not a singular, essential and inherent quality. Neither the camera nor the photographer makes pictures: it is the hybrid of the camera-tourist (Larsen, 2005).

The problem with 'representational' accounts of tourist photography is not that they stress structures of choreographies but that they do it in a reductive and deterministic fashion. While tourist performances transform places, the places upon which photography making takes place are always inscribed with cultural scripts, social and material discursive regulations that are crucial in choreographing tourists' cameras, so there is more to choreographing of tourist photography than cultural (images) choreographing. It is a heterogeneous process. 'Humans' such as guides, guards, professional photographers and 'nonhumans' such as markers, fences, viewing-stations, pamphlets, guidebooks, paintings, postcards exercise such framing (Beedie, 2003; Bruner, 2005). Representational accounts also overlook the corporeality of tourist photography, the bodily, multi-sensuous doings of photography, of taking photos and posing for cameras. Photography is as much a 'way of directing' and a 'way of acting' as a 'way of seeing'. Bodies of photography are standing, kneeling, bending sideways, forwards and backwards, leaning on ruins, lying on the ground, embracing, hugging, smiling and directing other bodies. The 'camera-tourist' creates unusual moments of intimate co-presence. Tourist photography is intricately bound up with self-presentation, 'strategic impression management' (Goffman, 1959) and posing (Barthes, 2000: p. 10). Tourist photography is part of the 'theatre' that enables modern people to enact and produce their desired togetherness, wholeness and intimacy. When cameras appear, activities are put on hold, and in posing people present themselves as a desired future memory; they assume tender postures: holding hands, hugging, embracing and so on. In this sense tourist photography makes proper social life possible - solid, relaxed and intimate. Choreographed by discourses of what constitute the perfect family, families' embodied work produce 'personal' material memories (Hirsch, 1997; Haldrup & Larsen, 2003). As Kodak says: 'Holidays last longer in snapshots' (Kodak ad, quoted in Schroeder, 2002: p. 74).

Wilson summarizes how photography permits humans to assume ownership of nature and places as graspable, mobile objects: 'the snapshot transforms the resistant aspect of nature into something familiar and intimate, something we can hold in our hands and memories. In this way, the camera allows us some control over the visual environments of our culture' (1992: p. 122). The magic of tourist photography is the way it creates immobility in an era of 'liquid modernity' (Bauman, 2000). The flux and flow of tourist experiences are '(re)solidified', ripped out of time, into something that people can hold in their hands. The 'cameratourist' captures those moments that would otherwise soon wash away, like a sandcastle. Only the photographs remain to capture that moment in the sand; the sandcastle erodes slowly with the rising of the sea. Photographs perform mnemonic wonders because they are simultaneously semiotic and material, fleeting and tangible. They are not only images, but also material objects with certain specific physical characteristics that make them powerful in constructing, inducing and disseminating 'memory travel'. In photography, as Barthes insisted, we can never deny that the thing has been there (2000: pp. 76-77). 'Just as Barthes argues that the image and its referent are laminated together, two leaves that cannot be separated, so are the photograph and its materiality, the image and object brought into a single coherent form' (Edwards, 1999:

p. 222). Personal photographs are transparent objects that make the clear-cut distinction between people and the objects of representations very blurred. Photographs have 'supernatural' effects because they are 'corporeal' extensions of persons and places captured. This explains why people when showing photograph say, 'This is my girlfriend in Paris' rather than 'This is a picture of my girlfriend' and Paris. The magic of personal photographs is this intimate yet illusory co-presence of the represented and its referent. When people engage with photographs, as Edwards observes, the describing of the content is accompanied by what appears to be an almost inseparable desire to touch, even stroke and spit on the image. Again the viewer is brought into bodily contact with the trace of the remembered. Thus we can say that the photograph has always existed, not merely as an image but in relation to the human body, tactile in experienced time... (1999: p. 228).

As material objects that hold on to those moments that would otherwise soon wash away, photographs connect with and revive memories of events, places and people through 'memory travel'. On their own photographs do not produce memories, but they prompt memory stories that would not have been prompted without the photographic objects. Photographic remembering is a hybrid performance. People's interaction with and work on their holiday photographs stimulates contingent, shortlived memories. The photograph starts off the memory journey, but it is hardly the destination. Each photograph affords multiple stories and sensuous geographies.

Movement as a Hybrid Performance

Hybridized mobility is such an obvious characteristic of tourism (and almost all other aspects of the social world) that it has been partly overlooked until recently. In tourist studies it has largely been reduced to a precondition for performing tourism, a practical issue of 'getting there' and 'getting around' rather than a way of sensing movement and landscapes. However, cars and other 'mobility technologies' are central to how people grasp, inhabit, sense and make sense of landscapes and places, and they are central to how tourists perform places and derive pleasure, enjoyment and experiences from them. Haldrup (2004) shows how car driving when on holiday enacts very different 'modes of mobility' with regard to families sightseeing. Thus family life and leisure places are simultaneously produced through the hybridized performance of car driving.

Other recent writings within social theory on 'automobility' have similarly suggested that we should understand driving and passengering as hybrid performances 'in which the identity of person and car kinaesthetically intertwine' (Thrift, 2004a: p. 47; see also Katz, 2000; Urry, 2000; Miller, 2001; Sheller, 2004). The embodied and sensuous experience of movement is kinaesthetically sensed through our joints, muscles, tendons and so on as we move in and across the physical world. The 'automobilized person' is simultaneously inhabiting and feeling the car, but he/she is feeling the physical world through the moving car, as it moves. The hybrid performances of the 'driver-car' (Dant, 2004) afford specific physical and virtual effects and sensuous experiences.

The hybridized performances of movement generate 'supernatural' sensuous effects. Mobility hybrids signify freedom, transgression, excitement and speed.

The very performance produces such effects. First, while trains, cars and buses impoverish the other senses, they greatly enhance and alter visual sensations. They are prosthetic vision machines that interject their own spatio-temporal reality, a cinematic-like experience of place (Schivelbusch, 1979: p. 58; Larsen, 2001). Framed by the cinematically mobile windscreen, the tourist's visual perceptions multiply, and become dynamic and chaotic: 'a rapid glance in magic glass' (Retzinger, 1998: p. 216). Second, hybridized movement in and through spaces creates kinaesthetic effects and sensations that would otherwise be beyond human experience. In the early years cars and trains were looked upon as shocking speed machines. Schivelbusch summarizes: 'the train [was] experienced as a projectile, and travelling on it, as being shot through the landscape - thus losing control of one's senses' (1979: p. 58). Decades later the speeding potency of the car caused similar excitement and disdain: 'the exultation of the dreamer, the drunkard, a thousand times purified and magnified' (Liniado, 1996: p. 12; see also Sachs, 1992). Another example of this is the surfboard. Making a surfboard performable requires detailed sense-derived knowledge of local wave conditions; knowledge often shared and communicated within particular social groups, magazines and so on (Preston-Whyte, 2002; Shields, 2004). It also requires extensive embodied and practical knowledge of what can be done with the board - or if one is windsurfing, also of mast, sail and boom. Such knowledge is 'meaning embodied - feel, touch, fluid - and possibly not speakable?' (Game, 1991: p. 57). 'When windsurfing is successful', as Dant says, 'it is unclear to what extent the human is responsible and to what extent the windsurfing equipment is' (1999: p. 128). The same can be said of driving, skiing, paragliding, rock climbing, sailing and so on. Dant nicely brings out the magical excitement that the hybrid body-board-wave assemblage provides: It can enable a human being to skim over water, blown by the wind, in a manner at once natural and yet so alien to the body. The usual limitations of the human body keep it immersed in the water, vulnerable to being buffeted by the wind wherever it is exposed. But the object of the windsurfer enables its sailor to transcend these constraints, raising the person onto the surface of the water and harnessing the propulsion of the wind. The resulting experience of the speed, with a certain acrobatic grace, liberates the body from its humdrum uses and experiences. (...) The role that the wind-sailor adopts is mimetic of the experience and excitement of a form of mobility in space that would normally be the preserve of birds or mythical beings - skimming over or walking on the water. In their rubber garb, harnessed to the rig and with feet linked to the board through toe-straps, sailors are transformed like mythical characters from their ordinary state of being. (1999: pp. 112, 118)

The sensuous experience of being a mobile hybrid is 'at once natural and yet so alien to the body'. The 'windsurfer' invigorates the human body, makes it active, absorbed and responsive to the collective rhythms and fluids of body, windsurfer, waves and winds, with little (wet jacket) or no bodily protection or shielding. These 'natural' interactions produce the supernatural experience of skimming and flying over the water, somewhere between a fish and bird: this hybrid performance transports the tourist far away from his/her 'ordinary state of being'.


Tourist (and leisure) studies, as well as cultural geography, have shared a common view of the social world where objects, things and technologies are too easily and quickly disregarded or seen as alienating intruders. We have argued that objects are almost inescapable parts of most people's leisure and tourist experiences or performances. Tourism and leisure life is not a flight from the world of things. In tourism people interact routinely with a wide range of objects and material environments; they bring their gendered, racialized and aged bodies into play when performing leisure and tourism. Against this background we have suggested that tourism's material cultures should be uncovered, thus bringing out objects, technologies and material environments and showing that these are simultaneously material, cultural and social. In other words, we have shown that cultures are heterogeneous.

In this article we have argued for the necessity of moving beyond the 'signvalues' of 'tourist' things and engaging with their 'use-values'. We have shown how things work in daily leisure and tourist practices when sensuous bodies and responsive technologies are combined to create various 'supernatural' effects and particular tourist and leisure spaces and places. Hybrid performances such as those discussed in this article both have effects and produce affects (see Thrift, 2004b). Tourism and leisure research will continue to be blind to the significance of things, materialities and technologies if it does not engage with the various effects generated by hybrid performances such as sightseeing, car driving and so on. Such performances have important material effects on how places and landscapes become physically structured. Moreover hybridized performances also generate affects and emotions. Things, technologies and the physical layout of landscapes constitute a thick materiality of emotions, longings and thrills that would not be uncovered unless both representational and non-representational geographies are accounted for.

Thus, this article does not advocate neglecting the cultural and representational aspects of leisure and tourist performances. Instead we argue that tourist researchers should strive to be 'more-than-representational' (Lorimer, 2005). Recent studies, especially in cultural geography and (parts of) sociology and anthropology, have begun to examine the complex work of things and technologies in leisure and tourist performances. Such studies have used conventional ethnographic methods in places that are not usually examined in cultural studies, such as inside the car or in cyberspace (Molz, 2004; Launier et al., 2005) and have scrutinized the role of tourist things such as souvenirs or luggage in tourism (Altejevic & Doorne, 2003; Lai, 2005). Such work uncovers the role of apparently trivial objects and technologies in human agency. Such studies represent a step forward for further explorations into tourists' hybrid performances.

Challenging unimaginative accounts of material culture that reduce things and objects to soulless matter, we propose to bridge the gap between, rather than separating, the material and the immaterial, the concrete and the metaphorical, the dreamed-of and the lived-in orders of reality. Such an approach to 'materiality', we argue, does not reinforce an essentialist dichotomy between the 'objective' (material) and the 'subjective' (textual), as suggested by Kearnes (2003) in his critique of Jackson (2000) and Miller (1998). Rather leisure and tourist studies must work with a complex notion of culture that privileges neither the material nor the immaterial. This is not a question of returning to the material, but of bridging the gap between what has been separated.


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