The Intermediate thesis by Lili Neuhauser in the area of expertise »Design Theory and Research« explores the question of how travel and the representation of travel have changed through digitally networked photo culture in the 21st century.

Taking photographs with a smartphone has become an integral practice of travelling, whereby the place travelled to is experienced primarily through the display. The visual products are instantly available. They are primarily used for communication in social networks. Mobile WLAN hotspots ensure that the pictures taken can be distributed at any time. Since a smartphone provides a camera, a storage, an image editing software and a communication platform at the same time, sharing the images becomes a central part of photography.

Smartphone photography provides an online audience with insights into the journey undertaken. Travel images on social networks usually show staged moments without context, focusing on the thematisation of the self or the travel companions. The respective travel environment is perceived more and more selectively in this process: the photographic gaze concentrates on what is supposedly photogenic and worth sharing. The pictures are always taken with the potential viewers in the social networks in mind. As a result, travel and photography become ritualised acts that aim to depict an idealised self in desirable surroundings as well as desired moments with travel partners. This form of self-representation is reinforced by the choice of photographic occasion, backdrop, stylistic devices and poses.

In an experimental photographic work, Lili Neuhauser directs the view from the digital production of the travel photographs to the physical performance of the image producers. She captures the interactions between photographers and photographed persons in front of tourist backdrops in her own images. She inquires into the visual and spatial strategies with which the actors stage each other; she asks how they behave, what postures they adopt, what characters they play and what meanings they assign to the environment The work represents an attempt to make visible and systematise the curious actions and gestures that lead to the creation of shared travel photography.

Images: Lili Neuhauser, 2022