I've seen things you people wouldn't believe

Year: 2008 - ongoing


Whenever I travel to a new city or country I try to find postcards that are printed completely black and state the name of the place as being depicted by night. These postcards are becoming harder to find with the joke apparently having now become somewhat old.


Postcards of places, cities and countries usually seek to reveal all that is fantastic about them. Glossy images of spectacularly lit landmarks fill the souvenir shops peddling a holiday brochure ideal of a place that relates more to a state sponsored fantasy than the disappointing tourists reality.


What guide books and travel agents have perhaps eroded over time is a sense of our own individual discovery. The books tell us what to see, where to see it and obviously how good it is. All of it is 'exceptional', 'the finest', and 'unique'. Cities and exotic locations are further mediated through the movie lens of Hollywood and the world. America even ran an advertising campaign once here in the UK that said 'You've seen the movies, now visit the set'.


So familiarised are we that when we do eventually have chance to visit a place for real you can experience a sense of deja vu and even the doubting of your own understanding of reality. Walking the back streets of Venice for the first time propelled me back to watching Schrader's 'Comfort of Strangers' ten years earlier. It is a dark and menacing story of failing love played out across the city and, just like Don't Look now or Death in Venice, these cinematic constructs can dislocate you from reality in a way that is perhaps comparable to visiting the casino Venice in Las Vegas. Which Venice is real?


Collecting these postcards seeks to undermine the imprint of those official images, the familiar landmarks and that cinematic style.


Sadly I never did find a 'Venice by night' postcard, in either Venice.


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