Mediating / Mediatizing Territory: A Guidebook on the Rise of Locative Media
The aim of this project is to understand how the travel guidebook, considered as a media genre (Parsons, 2008) which offers a specific representation of space through different codes (textual, visual), is used to experience the ‘representational space’ (Lefebvre, 1991) of a city. The experience of space (Tuan, 1977) mediated by the travel guidebook configures as a very specific experience, negotiated between the function and the form of the representations of the guidebook’s text, the ‘lived’ surrounding space and the forms through which the subject decides to be, or not, ‘guided’ by this text in the appropriation of a territory. In today’s mediascape, the emergence of locative mobile media and their ability to connect users, territory and digital content (Bertone, 2010; De Souza e Silva, 2011) seem to offer the travel guidebook new functions, thus changing the user’s relationship both with the guidebook’s text and with space. Two preliminary aspects that the digitisation of this media genre seems to tackle are, on the one hand, the different forms of autonomy and control in the tourist‘s wandering, made possible by the networking and location-aware capabilities of these devices, and, on the other, the relationship between the ‚visible‘ and ‘invisible’ of a city, highlighted through access to digital and geolocated content. In order to understand this mediated experience of space, and the changing relationship between users and guidebooks, two case studies have been selected, both of which offer a hardcopy and a digital mobile version. In the first phase, a textual analysis of these objects will be conducted to identify what representations of space are offered. In the second phase, ethnographical observation and subsequent in-depth interviews will be carried out with the users of these guidebooks in order to understand the appropriation practices of space through these texts. The sample will be selected during the ethnographic observation phase, and in particular during the act of buying the guidebook, or using one of the two series or ‘technological’ versions of them in specific cultural sites. The ultimate purpose of the project is to understand how the experience of space is constructed through a medium such as the travel guidebook, and how the functions made available by digital mobile media are changing this experience.