Experience Mexico's Archaelogical Sites/Lost Spaces

Hopefully it has become more apparent the ways in which the Mexico tourism ads seduce tourists by placing value on visual experiences conveyed in the process of seduction. To further this concept David Crouch and Nina Lubbren extend the importance of this seduction process, which I believe plays a huge role within the next Elite Mexico Experiences ad. They remind us that "tourism is frequently promoted as a seduction process. People are allured to go touring, enticed to particular cultures, sites and sights across the world through visual culture and the agencies of the tourism industry...desire is engaged, perhaps produced, in this process" (6).

In the case of the second ad shown here, the advertisement places focus on the material and metaphorical enticement of the "particular cultures, sites and sights" of Mexico through "visual culture and the agencies of the tourism industry" (Crouch & Lubbren 6). In looking at the ad displayed on this page, it is ancient ruins and pyramids in Mexico that represent the visual enticement promulgated by the tourist industry. With a four page spread, the advertisement uses the similar mixture of photos and narrative text to describe some of the most famous of the 38, 102 archaeological sites dispersed across the entire country (Elite Traveler 85).

Tracing back to pre-Hispanic civilizations and beyond, the advertisement doubles as an informational pamphlet for on-looking tourists. Readers are visually introduced to the images of Templo Mayor in Mexico City, the ruins at Teotihuacan, Veracruz, Monte Alban, Oaxaca, El Tajin, Veracruz, the pyramids at Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and, Tulum in addition to the jungle wonders in Coba. It is noteworthy to acknowledge the choice to use such images across all three pages because after all "images have, as W.J.T. Mitchell suggests, their own shamanic presence and 'semantic, synthetic, communicative power to encode messages, tell stories, express ideas and emotions and pose questions" (Balm & Holcomb 157). The pyramid images present within this particular ad pay homage to such a notion, particularly because the mystifying "reading" of such places prompted by the imagery present within lost civilizations.

The featured Mexican ruins, also referred to as examples of "lost space", are a "malleable medium that may be fashioned into a variety of forms and conditions with imagery as a catalyst. The relationship with lost places, mediated through imagery, plays a powerful role in tourism that goes far beyond influencing choice of destination, extending to a cognitive level where tourists as individuals become creative place builders on a tabula rasa of marking and positioning personal aspirations and imaginings in a cognitive space that stands in contrast to the familiarities of place and space of the known world and daily existence" (158).

A lost space's malleability expressed by Balm and Holcomb, is detected within the photographs displaying vacant sites, free of human inhabitance, like those positioned at your left, which add to the impression of a lost space. In both pages (displayed at right) the photographs all feature ancient spaces, existing under blue skies and clouds. Signifiers of lost space, free of human interaction can be observed by the grass that is able to grow becuase no one has stepped on it. Even though it we know these sites are frequented by numerous tourists on a yearly basis, the photographs strategically capture the sites during what appears to be the archaelogical site's "closed" hours. This strategic move allows for the photographs to capture that lost space that is part of the main draw for tourists.

In addition, the photograph displaying a zoomed in shot of skeleton heads carved into stone(displayed left), also connote loss of flesh and life, therefore suggesting a place left behind by humans. Metaphorically speaking, these visual culture images construct ideas of lost civilizations, outside of the "place and space of the known world and existence" (Balm & Holcomb 158) held by tourists. To better explain how the ads construct ideas of lost civilizations outside of places we know, I will draw your attention to the ad page displayed at the bottom entitled: "Discoveries of the Yucatan Peninsula". The photograph displayed on the top represents a camera shot taken from an eagle's view. It is very likely that his picture was taken from an aircraft to display how this one ancient structure is surrounded by a mysterious jungle, placed outside of modern human development. This perfectly describes the notion of that this is a lost space outside of the known places of world, developed by man, because there is no piece of modern development remotely close to this structure. Instead, it appears to be lost amongst the jungle, difficult to access, helping to signify the "mystery" and "discovery" to be had at these sites.

In an attempt to describe Mexican ancient structures as the spot of mystifying or other worldly experience through visual imagery present within pictures and text, the Elite Mexico Experiences ad detailing Mexico's ancient ruins, strategically utilizes what Eva Jokinen and Soile Veijola define as focalization. Better understood as the "subjectivity of experiencing the world" (273), the ad narrates unique experiences only stimulated through the physical witnessing of archeological sites. The coupling of text and pictures serve to draw your attention beyond the page, in the hopes of drawing tourist desires to witness the lost spaces presented through visual imagery.

Rhetorical examples of the unique experiences to be had include the "magnificent views of the surrounding emerald canopy" atop the 140-foot-tall Nohoch Mul Pyramid in Cancun, or the opportunity to witness "one of the seven wonders of the world" at Chichen Itza, Cancun, in addition to witnessing jaw dropping jungles encompassing extraordinary attractions like the 365 step castle at the pyramid of Kulkukan (displayed left) (Elite Traveler 87). In this way, "events are transmitted to the readers, in an always mediated way, from someone's perspective" (Jokinen, Veijola 273). In further adoption of Jokinen and Veijola's commentary, it is only when the promoters of this advertisement can display Mexican ancient ruins as "sights to be seen", consequently then, can they be considered famous, and worthwhile to tourists across the globe.


Balm, Roger and Briavel Holcomb. "Unclosing Lost Places: Image Making, Tourism and the Return to Terra Cognita." Visual Culture and Tourism (2003): 157-174

Crouch, David, and Nina Lubbren. Visual Culture and Tourism. Oxford: Berg, 2003

Jokinen, Eeva. "Mountains and Landscapes: Towards Embodied Visualities." Visual Culture and Tourism (2003): 259-78.

Visit Mexico. Advertisement. ELITE Traveler: THe Private Jet Style Magazine December 2009: 1-104