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Project: Tourism Space of Windsor Great Park

I’ve mentioned the intended subject of my Body of Work portfolio and I’ll be mentioning it again so it seems sensible to put some background here. Much of this is/will be covered in far more detail in Contextual Theory and I’m aware that I need to keep the two separate and avoid self-plagiarism but I’ll need to put some background here if the rest of the entries are to have a chance of making some kind of sense but leave the detailed analysis for CT.

So where to start ?

Windsor receives around 8 million tourists every year [1] and most at least set foot in the Great Park, a 5,000 acre (2020 hectares) park to the south of the town. Dating originally from the 13th century it was for most of that time the private hunting ground for Windsor Castle. Some of it is obviously private but the majority is accessible by the public and includes areas such as Savill Gardens, Virginia Water Lake and the Long Walk, all popular tourist destinations in the town. However this just covers a small section of the available land and there was a clear divide between the areas commonly visited by the tourists (and the locals) and those areas that were empty of people. It wasn’t just the popular areas above, there were many acres outside of those that were visited but there was a clear perimeter to these areas.

I’ve seen a number of portfolios investigating the edgelands, those spaces between civilisation and nature and my own CT tutor, Peter Haveland, has an excellent series (I have to say that don’t I? 🙂 ) called Debatable Lands [2]. There have been a number of interesting books around the subject such as Mabey’s, The Unofficial Countryside [3] and Farley and Symmons’ Edgelands [4] but what has started to interest me is the boundary itself, what created that boundary between the visited and the not-visited areas.

Part of this interest stems from some of the work that I’d done on Solomon-Godeau’s Inside/Out [5] in the documentary module. Whilst most of the essay dealt with images of people much of it could be translated to the kind of geographical divide that I’ve described above, most people stand outside of an area to take an image whereas others enter that area to explore and take images from within, but the latter group is far smaller. That popular area could be described as a “Tourism Space” [6] similar to the Oxford equivalent described by Hoyler [7] in his discussion on imaginative geographies.

Anyway, back to the divide, what is the boundary that limits the tourists to that space? Exploring the Park and wandering around the edges of that “Tourism Space“comes up with some interesting types of boundaries. For instance, some are blindingly obvious in that there might be a hedge but others are less obvious such as a wide open expanse which seems, in contradiction, to constrain. Others show how a very faint path made by a handful of walkers steers thousands down the same route. An arrow pointing to a specific part of the area seems to steer the vast majority of people that way even if there interest lies elsewhere.

There’s a lot of interesting work that’s available on the subject of boundaries, in particular the semiotics of boundaries and Latour’s, The Berlin Key [8], is relevant here as it discusses why some people regard a particular object as an obstacle and others regard it as an opening – something that’s apparent looking at the boundaries here.

The series of images that I’m hoping to develop explores this boundary, looks at what constrains those millions of people to a subset of the space available, hopefully highlighting the ambiguity of the boundary whilst giving a glimpse of what lies on the other side. Of course, I’m sure that this aim will change as I go through the course but it seems an excellent starting point and it gives me a great excuse to explore the Park.

Gaz

References

  1. Windsor, R. B. of and Maidenhead (2002) ‘Visitor economy statistics and data’, available at http://www.windsor.gov.uk/statistics-and-data, accessed 9 July 2016.
  2. Haveland,P., 2015-. Debatable Lands, available at http://www.peterhaveland.co.uk/Peter_Haveland/Current_project/Current_project.html, accessed 10 July 2016.
  3. Mabey, R. (2010) The unofficial countryside, United Kingdom: Little Toller Books.
  4. Farley, P. and Roberts, M. S. (2012) Edgelands: Journeys into England’s true wilderness, London: Vintage Books.
  5. Solomon-Godeau, A., (1994), ‘Inside/Out’ in Public Information: Desire, Disaster, Document. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1994.
  6. Kowalczyk, A. (2014), The Phenomenology of Tourism Space, Tourism, ISSN 0867-5856, 01/2014, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp. 9 – 15
  7. Hoyler, M. (ed.), 1998. Discussing imaginative geographies: Derek Gregory on representation, modernity and space. IN: Gregory, D. Explorations
    in Critical Human Geography. Hettner-Lecture 1997 [with Derek Gregory].Heidelberg: Department of Geography, University of Heidelberg, pp.71-103.
  8. Latour, B., The Berlin key or how to do things with words (2011) available at http://www.bruno-latour.fr/node/384, accessed 10 July 2016.
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