Saturday, 8 November 2014

Thoughts from Banff: Narrative tourism.

Banff, in terms of climate, and street structure, makes me feel like I'm at an idealized version of home. Home being Prince George first and Smithers second. Moreso Smithers for the size and more prominent mountains, and Prince George because of the greater level of development that comes from the larger tourist income.

The air is sharper than in Vancouver. You can tell it's drier because it doesn't take your heat away even though it's quite cool out, and wisps of your breath show. Visibility is very good, and the rocky hewn face of mount Rundas kilometers away. Looking down from the direction of the mountain, there are alpine style houses with steep peaked rooves and mortar walls. Every shop and building has the same style, with amber treated logs and wood panels framing the shapes of the buildings, as well as the doors, windows, and awnings. Storefront signs carved and painted wood, written in English and Japanese, line the street and tell of sushi and knickknacks for sale. It's early afternoon, but the sun already seems low because of surrounding mountains making the horizon higher than usual..

I wish I could share the feel of Banff with you, but words cut only deep through the umweld. Voice and careful observations may be able to improve that connection.

I wonder if anybody is doing this: high detail, observation based narrations of places, especially tourism places. There are guided meditations which are engrossing narrarions of imaginary generic places like beaches and deserts. There are descriptive audio tracks of television for the vision impaired, which reflect something specific. There are lots of writers that describe imaginary specific places in great detail in text. So is there something out there, preferably in audio format, which describes a real place but takes the time to do so in a high resolution, including the smells and tactile sensations.

I'd like to try it with some of my favourite places in Vancouver like the new west waterfront. It could be a creative project: go down to the waterfront, record audio, take pictures, and make and document observations. Then take all that and turn it into a narration of walking on the boardwalk that someone else could listen to and get, hopefully, a sense as if they had been there to some limited extent. I could incorporate some meditative ideas into it to help people get into an imaginative state.

Input? Thoughts?