Michael James Lewis

Poetics of Tourism


In the winter of 2012, my wife and I left our jobs and home in London to spend a year on the road. In defiance of conventional wisdom, we left our stable comfort in search of adventure. The most substantial component of our adventure was a 15,000 mile, six month circumnavigation of America - almost exclusively on state highways.


Over that distance, we had the opportunity to see a lot. Along the way, I began to fascinate over the tourist experience, particularly how preconception interferes with experience. The following body of work is an exploration into this theme.

Disposable Cameras


An artefact of the recent past, disposable cameras are a peculiar anomaly. The “disposable” label is both an honest reflection of a culture of waste and yet misleading. The label is misleading in its relationship to how photography has evolved. Image creation has grown exponentially with the rise of digital photography, fuelled particularly by social media. This trend is quite obvious. While the physical device was once considered disposable, the photograph itself begins to feel “disposable” in this new context. With such a plethora of visual information, a single photograph can be easily lost or forgotten.


Unlike smartphone photography, disposable cameras demand a series of essential steps in order to achieve creative fulfilment. Users must purchase a camera, take photographs with a finite number of exposures, bring the camera to a processing/development location, and return to collect the prints when they’re ready. These requirements demand a more conscious approach to photography. There is a deliberateness to each step of the process - a critical filtering.


The images above were all taken with cheap, disposable cameras.

The Homogenization of Experience


The following images are composites of photographs sourced from the internet. They texturally merge dozens of images to create a version of a hyper-reality in which our experiences blend into a fictional catalogue of cultural memory and place. Many of these images are copyright protected, yet their commonality is their most remarkable characteristic. Together they are a more honest documentation of contemporary experience than individually. Taken individually, the photographs reveal the constituents of an icon. Together they explore the nature of experience.

Times Square, New York

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Delicate Arch, Utah

Disposable Distortion


The following images were again taken with disposable cameras and are exercises in a more willful distortion of place.

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