Pleasures of distraction

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Actor-network theory, post-ANT material semiotic approaches, and related philosophical perspectives provide a way of conceptualizing visitor experiences which highlights shifting engagements and where interruption, shift and distraction form the course and content of a visit. Interruption, shift and distraction emerge between multiple coexisting sociomaterial enactments. Each sociomaterial enactment consists of characteristic entanglements of visitors, staff, mediating technologies and the material layout of an exhibition. Multiple enactments coexist, they overlap and sometimes interfere with and disturb each other.

This insight about the museum visit, which is generated during ethnographic fieldwork and is inspired by ANT and post-ANT approaches, relates to Serres’ philosophy, which in central ways has been foundational to ANT and post-ANT. Conceptualizing the museum visits in terms of shift and interruption also in interesting ways may be related to Benjamin’s concept of distraction - as mentioned by Hetherington in his sketch of two modes of museum engagement.
Understanding the museum visit in terms of shift and distraction provides a novel way of thinking about the museum visit, because it challenges an orientation towards immersion. The notion of immersion links to a topology of depth (as opposed to surface, or superficiality), which is challenged by topologies of fluidity and flicker, where the museum visit is explored in terms of fluid interrelating and flickering forms of engagement.

Notions developed during ethnographic fieldwork at a modern museum of natural history are here stretched; can conceptualizations of the museum visit in terms of shift and interference be extended to other leisure, experience and tourism sites? Are these concepts useful for thinking about visits to a touristic harbor environment, for example?

This contribution seeks to conceptually develop what it is ‘to visit’ a tourism or experience site, and it does so based on previous qualitative field work carried out by the authors at museums and other tourism sites.

Publikationsdato24 maj 2011
Antal sider1
StatusUdgivet - 24 maj 2011
BegivenhedNordic Geographers' Meeting : Geographical Knowledge, Nature and Practice - Roskilde Universitet, Roskilde, Danmark
Varighed: 24 maj 201127 maj 2011


KonferenceNordic Geographers' Meeting
LokationRoskilde Universitet


  • oplevelse
  • turisme
  • ANT
  • Visuel kultur
  • medier, kommunikation og informationsteknologi

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