We travel, we see a famous landmark, we take a picture. Framing sites of mass tourism in our viewfinders, we create photographic souvenirs that are integral to the touristic experience. Beginning in 2005, Swiss artist Corinne Vionnet began to conduct online keyword searches of vernacular images of tourist landmarks from around the world after observing that most snapshots were either conscious or unconscious renderings of existing imagery of that location. This led her to examine how we select the optimum spot from which to photograph a landmark. Are we socially conditioned to take pictures we have seen before? Underneath these beautiful ghost visions is a serious concern with how the persistence of formally repeated photographic compositions both constructs and disrupts our perceptions of space over time, referencing photography’s deep-seated authority to supersede reality. As Sontag aptly put it, touristic excursions are often scripted successions of photographic mediations with the real – disruptions that distance us from any direct engagement with our local environment. When shared online, these “photograph-trophies” assimilate into vast directories of indexical images tethered to our geographical sociocultural imaginaries. (short extract from Madeline Yale’s essay, 2016) ——– ‘Scenic Views’ is about the great wilderness areas of the United States. Right from the start, photography played a central role in preserving the beauty of the National Parks, and the country’s unique geological features. It made an important contribution to the legend of the West. In the modern world of tourism, we may cast a critical eye on the romantic approach that characterized photographs taken in the 19th and early 20th century. Our perception and vision are still influenced by the fact that we’ve seen these images throughout our lives. We’ve internalized landscapes whose profile is further enhanced by the images we ourselves produce.
Swiss visual artist Corinne Vionnet is based in Vevey, Switzerland. She is a pioneer in the exploration and re-purposing of web-based imagery. Her works led her to analyze the construction and maintenance of the social imagination and collective identity, as well as our behavior with images, with the act of taking pictures as well as the content of these overflow of pictures. Her works conveys the ambiguous lure of the Internet, which seemingly promises freedom and the discovery of new worlds, yet, in reality, imprisons us all in a space of algorithm, and at the same time makes us believe that we are unique. Corinne Vionnet’s work is included in the collections of SF MOMA, Musée de l’Elysée, Musée d’Art du Valais, Musée d’Art of Pully, and Musée français de la photographie, among others. She has participated in solo and group exhibitions such as SFMOMA, San Francisco (2019); Centrale for Contemporary Art, Brussel (2018); Swiss Camera Museum (2018); Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne (2017); Jeju Art Biennial, Korea (2017) ; Danziger Gallery, New York (2015); FotoMuseum, Antwerp (2015, 2012); Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris (2013) ; Les Rencontres d’Arles (2011). Her works have been reviewed in numerous art, photography and editorial newspapers, magazines as well as in publications. She was invited at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2013 to present her work, which was part of the conference ‘Seeing is Believing’.