I’m currently working on three project lines. Please find the details below.
1. Scripted Journeys
Scripted Journeys is a research project following from my PhD dissertation in tourism studies and new media, which I completed in 2016. It revolves around the increasing use of touristic technology in order to access forms of authenticity: ‘real’, ‘unspoiled’, ‘genuine’ places and selves. Airbnb’s slogan “don’t just go there, live there” for instance, signals an ideology in which residential homes become signifiers for ‘travel’ as opposed to ‘tourism’. Scripted Journeys explores the inherent tension that exists between authenticity and technology in contemporary tourism.
Understanding the influence of digital technology on travel, and its transformative effects on people’s highly individualized experiences and on the myth-making function of authenticity, is highly relevant to understand the social and ecological problems that tourism produces, such as the phenomenon of ‘overtourism’. Terms such as these obfuscate the self-erasure that is intrinsic to all touristic structures. Modern tourism is built on the suspicion of tourism itself, and a exceptionalist attitude towards one’s engagement with the world. The “scripted journey” demonstrates that touring, and the infrastructure on which it depends, is always an algorithmic process, despite all ideological efforts to frame it as an individualist project.
I also run a blog on the intersection of travel and technology: see scriptedjourneys.com
Established in 2017, ExTraVid (Exploring Travel in Videogames) is a project investigating video games as travel sites. It documents our favorite travel experiences in games, and aims to see what the relations are between virtual and physical travel.
Videogames enact travel and play out travel narratives. With games becoming more graphically realistic and mechanically sophisticated, the boundaries between terrestrial and virtual travel start to blur. Players and travelers, in other words, are interrelated within our contemporary algorithmic culture.
3. Digital Hermeneutics
What is the status and value of practices of interpretation in the Humanities today? Over the last decades, many scholars have written about the limits of interpretation, and in some case argued that it is something we can overcome—think of post- and anti-hermeneutic tendencies in media archaeology (Wolfgang Ernst, Friedrich Kittler; Vilém Flusser); speculative realism and object-oriented ontology (Levi Bryant; Graham Harman; Quentin Meillassoux); surface reading (Heather Love; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick), and quantitative formalism (Franco Moretti; Sarah Allison; Matthew Jockers). Recent forms of ‘distant reading’ in the Digital Humanities, experiments in machine reading, critiques of historicism, and narratives of the ‘turn away from the linguistic turn’ all present important alternatives to the practice of interpreting individual texts and objects.
Digital Hermeneutics provides a platform for debates on interpretation in times of big data and post-hermeneutic approaches. We look for ways to bring the hermeneutic tradition in Humanities research and teaching together with recent (quantified, material, or object-oriented) alternatives. See digitalhermeneutics.com.