Angkor 17 years after is "same same but different".. Same grandeur and beauty.. Same angles of peace, of deep shadows, of hidden atmospheres.. But different in the crowds that now climb on it's stones, take snapshots in front of the carvings, scream in the corners of the temples.. Tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world (but mostly Chinese) have transformed the place in yet another mass-tourism destination, to be visited with no real interest in mind: just another souvenir photo to show friends back home, of this place "in Asia", no more to add..
I've been complaining of this over and over again. Useless to criticize this business that moves crowds with no real interest or knowledge in the most beautiful places in the world, de facto destroying any atmosphere and pleasure to visit them. Who am I to denounce, coming from Florence, one of the first and most notorious victims of this?
To those that affirm the right of everybody to visit nice places I answer that only people moved by real knowledge and interest should be allowed to go. To go just because a place is in a organized itinerary is just human pollution, depriving really interested people from fully enjoying something they may have been wishing to visit for years.
But my real point is more personal: did I contribute with my work to this pollution? Was my travel photo-journalism encouraging this dramatic evolution (like some friend suggested)?
No, not really, thanks God!!! What I've been publishing for years were ideas and particular destinations.. The magazines I worked for were in fact suggesting how to avoid the clichés and look to different places, or how to look at the same places in a different light. An elite mission that has sinked with the decadence of culture altogether.
It's news of last week that the Italian travel magazine VS has folded. VS was in fact what was left of the original Weekend magazine, the most prestigious travel publication in the 80's and 90's. On it's pages I published the most experimental works: digital manipulations as early as 1996. Video recorded images in 1998. A way of seeing that not even CN Traveler US had started yet.. And many friends contributed to that effort..
Paolo, the last editor, told me last week that "he'll spit to those that will talk of quality again".. and he's probably right, since quality did not save the magazine, the jobs, the message.. Still I think it was worth doing it: for the few and fewer people that appreciated it, for the sake of personal accomplishment, for ourself... Thanks guys, it was great! Let's start something as good as that! Just for the sake of it!!!