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3 The image of the city, tourist imaginaries, and destination image

3 The image of the city, tourist imaginaries, and destination image

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The image, imaginaries, and destination image

‘brought about by human activity working within specific cultural constraints’

(Bryson, 1983: 10) because the selection and editing of film language, as well as

the image of the city resulting from this, is from the representing producer’s

perception. It is an imaginary space created by the urban representations to be

found as much in films and images as in any actual urban places, and there often

emerges an impossibility of defining clear-cut boundaries between reality and

imagination (Donald, 1999). The terrains of the imaginaries and the physical

spaces themselves run into one another to the extent of being barely distinguishable (Ingold, 2010). Imaginaries are like ‘place-myths’, that is ‘stereotypes and

cliche´s associated with a particular location, in the circulation of mediated images and representations of the place within a society’ (Kim, 2012: 388). Selwyn

(1996) emphasizes the idea that the tourist is someone who ‘chases myths’. In

this context myths are viewed as a means for resolving intellectual and emotional

disharmony in order to provide a sense of stability and reasoning to our lives.

Thus, place-myths are not necessarily faithful to the actual realities, but are a

mixture of images and imaginations (Kim, 2012).

5.3.2 Filmmaker: attachment and viewpoint

The image of the city from the filmmaker represents their personal attachment to

place, which is the object on the screen, and this then builds an ‘emotional attachment’ (Beeton, 2005; Buscher & Urry, 2009; Kim & Richardson, 2003)

between the viewer and the place, supplying a place narrative (Chronis, 2012)

and a sense of place (Stokowski, 2002). This means that prior to a visit the tourist becomes involved with the film storyline and experiences empathy with the

story and its characters (Frost, 2010), thereby gaining an image of the place, and

during a later trip tourists often make reference back to the film (Diekmann &

Hannam, 2012). Symbolism from the films could be used to make the large nation-state seem a concrete place toward which people could feel deep attachment

(Tuan, 1977). Films do offer an identity for the place on the screen, and describe

a space with its own narrative language. In the context of tourism, the tourist

becomes a ‘cultural bricoleur’, using the signs, symbols and artifacts of the different cultures through which they pass to creatively formulate a new identity

(Holden, 2005). Jewell and McKinnon (2008) argue that film tourism creates

new cultural landscapes, generating not only a desire to travel, but also shaping

parts of place identity. Personal emotional engagement or involvement not only

5 City, film and destination


forms place attachment, but also creates new touristic spaces and contextualized

anticipated touristic experiences at the filmed locations (Kim, 2010).

The visitor's evaluation of environment is essentially aesthetic, which is indicative of an outsider's view because the outside judges by appearance, by some

formal canon of beauty (Tuan, 1974). Tourists are selective when they construct

their own imaginaries of a place, often looking only for the beautiful scenery. It

is interesting that in Yi Yi Yang performed this touristic view in the plot of the

Japanese trip - when NJ and A-Shui take a trip to Tokyo and Atami, they wander

in the cities as tourists. This part of the plot shows destination images of these

two Japanese cities in their aesthetic aspects, with the local attractions such as

the seaside and ancient temple park dominating the images of the city. The characters’ feelings of reunion and nostalgia are transferred to the physical environment: the railway leading to the past, the traditional street as the stage for reenacting their love, and the green temple for reflection. These images of the

Japanese city are indicative of a gaze on beauty, in other words they are the view

of a complete outsider, in contrast to the ‘insider view’ that characterizes the

image presented of Taipei, which is ‘empathizes with the lives and values of the

inhabitants’ (Tuan, 1974). Tuan has cited Herbert Gans’ study of Bostons' working-class district, the West End, to compare the differences between insider and

outsider views. When the sociologist first saw the West End, he was struck by its

conflicting aesthetic qualities; but after living there for a few weeks he became

selective, turning a blind eye to the empty and decaying quarters for those that

were actually used by people. According to Tuan (1974), this example illustrates

how the outsider's view had depicted a world alien to the native resident. In Au

Revoir Taipei, this selective outsider’s view endures throughout the entire film in

its emphasis on the quotidian beauty, the intimate feeling of the traditional district, and the panoramic view of attractions. Thus, the tourist imaginaries of the

image of Taipei are different in the two films. In Yi Yi, the image of Taipei is

modern and without many physical hints of tradition present in the urban space,

while the image of a past Taipei is illustrated through the image of a Japanese

city. Yang has produced an image of Taipei from past to present, although the

time in the film is limited to the present of the shooting time. Yi Yi provides a

modern image of Taipei around the year 2000, but fills the image with nostalgic

longings. The image of Taipei in Au Revoir Taipei is a city space of empathy.

Both modern and traditional Taipei are shown in Au Revoir Taipei, but with two

different images - cosy but ambiguous vs. open and clearly directed.

The image of the city first is made visible on the screen by visual prominence in film. Then, in Tuan’s words, the ‘human places become vividly real


The image, imaginaries, and destination image

through dramatization’, because the ‘identity of place is achieved by dramatizing

the aspirations, needs, and functional rhythms of personal and group life’ (Tuan,

1977: 178). The images of Taipei presented in Yi Yi and Au Revoir Taipei have

their architectural and time distinctions, but they both include a considerable

intensity of dramatization. To build an attachment between people and place may

require time, but just as Feibleman noted, ‘It may take a man a year to travel

around the world – and leave absolutely no impression on him. Then again it

may take him only a second to see the face of a woman - and change his entire

future’ (1952: 55, cited by Tuan, 1977: 184). During the short durations of time

in which the audiences as potential tourists are exposed to the images of Taipei

in Yi Yi and Au Revoir Taipei, the symbolic constructions present within the

films could very well cultivate their imaginaries of the city.

5.3.3 Potential tourists: symbols of the image on the screen

The modern space infused with the mood of nostalgia and the empathetic space

are the two quite different images of Taipei presented in the films, but both could

influence the emotional and physical attachment between tourist and the city,

because ‘the translation of the places’ the films have made enter ‘into the imaginary reality of our mental life’ (Donald, 1999: 8). These two kinds of images of

Taipei are put on the screens, supplying a set of symbols for the viewers as potential tourists. Tourism is particularly reliant upon iconic interpretation (for

example the Eiffel Tower) to lend an identity to a place and to signify to tourists

that there exists something worth seeing (Holden, 2005). The signifiers in the

two films are signifiers for tourists. Especially in the tourist view of Au Revoir

Taipei, a potential tourist can easily access information attached to the city of

Taipei, such as the night market, the traditional dinner, and the landmark Taipei

101. Holden (2005) has pointed out how the sacred can be viewed as sites representative of strong emotions and strong beliefs, a type of ‘social marker’, essential to continuity and identity; landscapes can take on the properties of the sacred,

representing something that is rooted and unchanging. He confirms that this type

of ‘therapy’ happens through the cognitive consumption of images in photographs and paintings, and by the simple fact of knowing that they exist (2005:

147). Although the furnishing of an ideal world is a matter of removing the defects of the real one (Tuan, 1974), film sometimes provides a dream space by

selecting elements relevant to the narrative structure. This selection is made by

filmmakers at first, and then put together in front of the audience. We cannot

5 City, film and destination


conclude that the tourist imaginaries are exactly the same as the images on the

screen, but we can say that the image from the film is one of the possible (and

likely) sources of the tourists’ imaginaries. When we are able to identify the

source, we are closer to solving the mystery of film tourism - why a film make

people go to see the location and how. The most interesting part is that the semiotics of film language provides the iconic interpretation for tourism. Thus, the

image of Taipei provides the markers of the place, such as the Path with traffic,

the residential high rise, and the viaduct in Yi Yi, and the night market and traditional alley in Au Revoir Taipei.

As this research has shown, the underlying meaning of the image of Taipei

in Yi Yi is associated with the nostalgia of diaspora, while in Au Revoir Taipei is

the empathetic space is framed by the quest for aesthetic framing for tourist.

These two images of city have been collected based on Lynch’s five categories

of image and interpreted using the documentary method of interpretation. Thus,

these images of Taipei are attested to in an identical, homologous pattern within

the two films in question, and both locate their potential powers of place attachment in their symbolic constructions. In Yi Yi, the modern space of Taipei is

represented through the functional attachment of the insider: the cafe, cinema,

paths, buildings, as well as the emotional link of Taipei, the deep nostalgia. In Au

Revoir Taipei, the functional attachment depends on the different space of empathy, which means the emotional attachment is constructed within the functional

attachment. These images imbued with place attachment are shown on the screen

and seen by the audience, thus the next important step is to connect them to the

tourist destination image to explore the relationship between the two and how the

image in the film could relate to the destination image.

5.3.4 Destination image in the film: a humanistic space in persuasive media

Research on tourist destination image started with John D. Hunt in 1971 (Echtner

& Ritchie, 1991). Hunt(1971) suggested that the destination image is made up of

impressions that a person or persons hold about a state in which they do not

reside; Fridgen (1987) defined it as an perception of a place. Because the tourist

motivation is decided by the destination image (Mayo, & Jarvis, 1981; Gartner,

1993) and the cognitive and affective component is easily influenced by new

information (Holden, 2005: 75), the tourism promotion and destination management offices have given it much attention. The Lord of the Rings film trilogy,

which was filmed in New Zealand between 2001 and 2003, is frequently men-


The image, imaginaries, and destination image

tioned as a famous instance of film-induced tourism practice. With the global

popularity of the James Bond and Harry Potter films, the United Kingdom has

utilized film tourism as a very important component of destination promotion,

and the organization Film London has claimed that films depicting the UK are

responsible for attracting about 1 in 10 overseas tourists, who collectively spend

around £1.8 billion a year there (Hao, 2014). Hou (2006) has suggested that the

act of travelling to the idealized world represented by the site of the film generates an extra layer of emotion for tourists. But looking deeper into the phenomenon, what exactly is the nature of the organic images films provide? This question has already been explored in the preceding chapters of this dissertation.

However, the bridge between the film image and the destination image needs to

be constructed with the help of psychology.

Žižek (1992) has cited Lacan’s schema to explain the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real in viewing Alfred Hitchcock’s work, but here I would like to

apply this schema to elaborate on the constellation of film image, imaginary, and

destination image: the first point concerns the film’s ability to offer the pure

semblance of the image of Taipei; the second point refers to the ‘symbolization

of the Imaginary’ (Žižek, 1992: 8), such as in the space under the viaduct in Yi Yi

or the street of farewell in Au Revoir Taipei; the third point pertains to an enjoyment materialized by image, like the nostalgia in Yi Yi and the novelty in Au

Revoir Taipei.







Figure 91: Lacan’s schema of the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real

(reproduced by Žižek, 1992: 7)

Although the above explanation is irrelevant to the ‘Oedipal journey’ (Žižek,

1992: 8), this schema makes sense when we explore the film image, imaginary

and the destination image, if we substitute the three bodies as:


5 City, film and destination






Figure 92: Schema of Film image, Imaginary, and Destination image

In the area of film tourism research, this functional schema amongst film image,

imaginary, and destination has been incorporated into different statements, although almost all of them do not visualized the functional process within the

schema. In their 2008 study, Mestre et al. suggested that pastiche films or pastiche scenes of fictional movies at tourist destinations connect to the objective

reality through the spectator’s knowledge and imagination about the represented

tourist destination, which means that in this case pastiche enhances the previous

stereotyped images of place in the minds of film spectators, who are at the same

time potential tourists. Chronis (2012) has suggested that imaginaries are a social

construct that envelops and shapes an otherwise unassuming physical space into

an evocative tourist destination. Salazar (2012: 866) has asserted that empirical

study of the relationship between tourist imaginaries and their broader contexts is

a productive way of analysing tourism, while the only way to study imaginaries

‘is by focusing on the multiple conduits through which they pass and become

visible in the form of images and discourses’. Thus, we cannot ignore the imaginary from film images in relation to the destination image, but rather can conclude that the two kind of image in fact cannot be separated: the film image adds

another layer of destination image, e.g. Yi Yi might add one image of Taipei, but

this film image is the image of the city held by the filmmaker. When the viewer the potential tourist - has received the film image altered by his/her imagination,

then another layer of destination image is constructed. Like a pile of transparent

plastic picture cards, each page has its own content, but with the addition of

another page, a new image is created on the basis of the former image.

Returning to the images found in the two films, it could be concluded that

the images from these two films are only some visual layers adding to the overall

destination image of Taipei. The point is to elaborate the way that place attachment inside the image in film can infect the viewer’s imaginaries and the destina-


The image, imaginaries, and destination image

tion image. Film reconstitutes the conditions of Lacan’s ‘mirror stage’ through

the screen (Altman, 1985: 521-524), and film is like a dream (Langer, 1953: 412):

when viewing film as a mirror, it serves to reflect the place dependence, the

physical world; when we treat film as a dream, it relates to place identity, the

feelings of the dreamer.

Imaginaries(potential tourists)


Film image



Figure 93: Schema of Film image, (potential tourists’) Imaginaries, and

Destination image

Eco (1976: 598) has pointed out that the ‘codes of the unconscious’ in film language are used particularly in ‘persuasive media’ because they permit certain

identifications or projections and stimulate given actions. These codes of the

unconscious are the implicit knowledge of the camera, the filmmaker. Thus, we

could recognize that the implicit meaning of the image of Taipei in Yi Yi as

rooted in the nostalgia associated with diaspora, while the implicit image in Au

Revoir Taipei is the half traditional half modern city seen from a tourist’s view.

Tuan (1974: 65) offered a description of the ‘fresh perspective’ of the visitor: ‘a

tourist to the medieval part of a European city expresses delight over its dark

cobbled streets, intimate nooks and corners, picturesque compact housing, and

quaint shops without pausing to wonder how the people had actually lived’. In

Au Revoir Taipei, the city is more like a destination for tourists than it is in Yi Yi,

thus Chen’s film is more like ‘persuasive media’ for a tourist destination. The

city of Taipei in Yi Yi is more human-like, a place with memory and deep feelings, and this insider’s view might infect the viewer in a more unconscious way

in transforming their imaginaries of Taipei. These represent two very different

5 City, film and destination


types of relationships existing within the film – imaginaries – destination image

constellation, based on the differences between the two sets of film language.

Tuan (1977: 202) has claimed that there is no need for long duration of time in

order to form a lasting attachment to place, but he also questions how ‘people

[might] promote the visibility of rooted communities that lack striking visual

symbols?’ Yi Yi may offer a possible answer to this question: give a place its own

position, present a ‘place as time made visible’ (Tuan, 1977: 179), as a humanistic space. This is also realized in the image of the traditional and intimately experienced neighbourhood in Au Revoir Taipei, although the entire movie is approached from a tourist’s view. But for the Taipei promotion department, the

tourist’s view might seem an easier way to promote Taipei, as a district's reputation depends far more on the propaganda of outside groups than of local residents (Tuan, 1977: 172), and the view from tourist reinforces the gaze through

the signs and the markers in the image of the city in film.


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