week 2

autoethnography

The Art of Autoethnography: Part I

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Part I- Autoethnography

A form of self-reflection and writing that explores the researcher’s personal experiences and connects this autobiographical story to a wider cultural-political-and social meanings and understandings’ (Collins Dictionary, 2013)

Autoethnography is a new and foreign concept to me, one that seems simple at first glance yet has hidden complexities and requires a greater deal of insight to result in purposeful authenticity.

This week’s reading Autoethnography: An Overview (Ellis, Adams & Bochner, 2011) details that autoethnography is to analyse experience through methodological tools, literature research and use personal experience to illustrate facets of cultural experience. Therefore it is under this guise that I shall share my process of autoethnography regarding the 1954 Japanese film Godzilla/Gojira.

 

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Observation and simply absorbing the text in all its glory, taking note of my observations were the only methodological tools used. A basic approach, but as this is my first attempt at autoethnographic research, basic is the best way to start.

Here are my observations, a summary of the running commentary of my thoughts during the entire film:

  • Constant shadows make it hard to see the emotions displayed of the characters faces.
  • I wonder what the subtitles meant by ‘firefighters’, I’m guessing firefighters given the context.
  • There is a lot of jumping from one scene to the other.
  • Little emotion is shown by the characters when announcing the deaths of the soldiers. They are stone cold statues.
  • There is this annoying bell sound throughout many of the scenes and it is starting to annoy me.
  • This storyline is getting hard to follow, there are many different characters being introduced and the scene jumping around.
  • The constant jumping around between scenes is leading me to disconnect from the text, and a computer screen in front of me provides an abundance of distractions from writing emails to scrolling the Facebook newsfeed.
  • It is so silent given the large amount of people in the scene, there is very little background noise. I am definitely not used to a movie score of this nature.
  • Now I’m thinking about food while watching a man handle a dead fish. I don’t think I am really invested in the film.
  • The scary noise they are running away from isn’t even that loud, their screams cover it.
  • Finally Godzilla/Gojira makes an appearance.
  • That appearance only lasted a second. That was hardly worth all the build up in that scene.
  • There is no visable destination that they are running towards. Then they just stop before the scene changes.
  • The picture of Godzilla/Gojira  is on the screen longer then he actually was.
  • They never actually seem that scared of it. Maybe thats just a cultural difference regarding the displaying of emotions.
  • How did they get the sand from Godzilla/Gojira’s body?
  • I got distracted again by emails. It’s not my fault they just pop up on my screen.
  • Why is the guy in the eye patch so serious?
  • I think that girl has the hots for the guy with the eye patch.
  • I didn’t pay enough attention to know any of the characters names.
  • New method found to slightly understand what’s going on. Watching the #DIGC330 twitter feed.

 

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The literature research conducted on the topic of autoethnography. Autoethnography: An Overview (Ellis, Adams & Bochner, 2011) did two things for my understanding of autoethnography. Firstly it enlightened me as to what the process of autoethnography entails and what it produces; ‘aesthetic and evocative thick descriptions of personal and interpersonal experience’.

Secondly, what my first attempt at autoethnograhic research was not. Ellis et. el. (2011) stated that autoethnography was developed in ‘an attempt to concentrate on ways of producing meaningful, accessible and evocative research grounded in personal experience’. If I were to use this as a checklist, I could say that my work was very much grounded in personal experience as there was no other other facets to it and that by posting it in this digital format it is also accessible, but meaningful or evocative I am struggling to see that part coming to fruition.

 

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My personal experience with this film is that I couldn’t get fully immersed in the storyline. What is evident from my notes is that as the film progressed I became less content with watching and making observations. I found myself looking for distractions and had difficulty remaining focused.

Though in all honesty I have never;

a. Been  drawn to Asian cinema unless it was of a Bollywood persuasion

AND

b. Been able to become totally engrossed in a film in an educational context, it just seems unnatural.

For someone else, or if I had first encountered this film in a different context, the outcome might have been different, though this simply wasn’t the case and I am afraid that this will cloud my view of the film forever in my mind.

Reference List

Collinsdictionary.com. (2016). Definition of Autoethnography | New Word Suggestion | Collins Dictionary. [online] Available at: http://www.collinsdictionary.com/submission/10957/Autoethnography [Accessed 25 Aug. 2016].

Ellis, C., Adams, T. and Bochner, A. (2011). Autoethnography: An Overview. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, [online] 12(1). Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 [Accessed 30 Jul. 2016].

IMDb. (2016). Godzilla (1954). [online] Available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047034/ [Accessed 20 Aug. 2016].

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A close encounter of the eSports kind: A personal account of the portrayal of South Korean pro gaming culture

Autoethnography as described by Ellis, Adams and Bochner (2011, p.1) is “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience”. This is accomplished first through an ethnographic wide-angle lens, focusing outward on discerning patterns of cultural experience evidenced by field notes, interviews and/or artifacts, and then looking inwards, describing these patterns using the conventions of autobiographical storytelling such as character, scene and plot development and/or chronological or fragmented story progression (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011, p.1). The aim is to produce accessible and evocative texts that “make personal experience meaningful and cultural experience engaging” (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011, p.4).

autoethno

Contrary to the objective, neutral, impersonal, detached and value-free nature of more traditional forms of scientific research, the autoethnographic method championed by Ellis, Adams and Bochner (2011, p.2) treats research as a socially-conscious act, embraces value-centred inquiry and…

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Japanese Commercials

I’m in love with Japanese commercials, partly because it’s strange to me and partly because they have a unique appreciation for Tommy Lee Jones. I had seen a few here and there but hadn’t thoroughly explored them until more recently.

 

 

Apparently when watching Japanese television there isn’t as clear of a distinction between the show being aired and the commercial break. From what I’ve seen and been told by my friend Kyle, who studies Japanese and has done study abroad in Japan a few times and whom also introduces me to awesome Japanese tv shows, Japanese media seems to be much more fast paced. My first impressions of the commercials in this video are not only are these insane but quite a few of the commercials, whilst eye catching, are unrelated to the product they’re selling. While I do let out a classic sigh of ‘oh Japan…’ when watching these intense segments I’ve come to think ‘well… what about American television and the insanity of Honey Boo Boo?’ To be honest I’ve just succumbed to the stereotype of Japanese people being weird and haven’t just viewed it solely as ‘entertainment’, and that’s something that I will have to work on.

 

When thinking about what media I will explore and what specific countries media I will research I have to admit that I am scared of confusing cultures. Yes, I know a bit about Japan, South Korea and China but linguistically, culturally and even ethnically I don’t know enough to actually tell various countries and cultures apart (yes I know I’m a little racist and I’m a terrible Asian). Additionally when I think about countries that aren’t South Korea, Japan, China and the Philippines (because I’m Filipino, not because it’s popular in Western media) I realize that I really don’t know anything about their digital cultures. Personally I’ve never looked at commercials and media for other countries such as Mongolia, but now I am pretty curious to find out what their overall style is.

 

A Digital-less North Korea

 

Sometime ago I watched a Youtube clip of Denis Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters in North Korea. I only watched part 1 of the series of two because the absurdity of the event made a lasting impression of total oppression on me. I have travelled in Asia with my parents; hear stories of other people’s experiences and nothing compared to what I saw in that 14:32 sec clip.

When I scratched my head about the focus I need for my work in the subject of Digital Asia, part of my Media and Communications Degree, it was painfully obvious that the digital world in North Korea, or lack of it, might be an interesting place to start. This was not an easy decision to make because I had difficulty getting my head around the notion of an autoenthographic study, hence the tardiness of my initial efforts to blog. However, after visiting the DIGC 330 WordPress Blog I saw the types of subjects others were looking into and thought I may have an original idea.

My next thought was that it was probably going to be extremely difficult to source relevant research to expand my studies. North Korea being one of the most insular regimes in the world must have some stifling effect on the flow of information coming out of the country and the difficulties experienced by journalists and other observers entering the country made me sceptical concerning my information gathering fortunes. Nevertheless I will stick with my idea because the whole notion of total control of the digital environment in a country really made a negative impression on me. The totalitarian nature of the regime was so foreign to my psyche that I was drawn to find out more about it. It also made angered me that a population as large as North Koreas was being robbed of the entertainment, information and colour of the outside world. Sure it may not all be award winning stuff and there are negative aspects to the influences offered by aspects of the digital world but in the 21st Century people should have the choice – they should be able to enjoy the freedoms of digital communication and learn to deal with the Dark Side of the force.

So I will research what North Korea has to offer as a contribution to the digital Asia, it may be a very short case study or it may widening my conceptual understanding of a digital Asia and enthothnographic research. Only time will tell and I hope I can find some information to make it worthwhile.

 

My Experience of Dark Water “Honogurai mizu no soko kara”

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Last Friday I was invited to go and experience my friends’ new home theatre room. Armed with a six-pack of James Boags, an armful of Thai food and my bright yellow fox onesie, I was ready for a long night of thrilling theatre. 
Descending the stairs to their once creepy basement, now beautifully carpeted theatre room, the group was presented with our choice of films for the evening.
Amongst our selection was; ‘Hansel and Gretel and the 420 witch’, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and ‘Dark Water’.
Being aware of the potential for Japanese horror to mentally scar us, we opted to watch Dark Water first and then sooth ourselves with the other two movies afterwards.

Settling down into the dark theatre room, I began to devour a healthy serving of fried rice with chicken & cashews as my friend proceeded to put the movie onto the big screen. Beginning to feel the flow of alcohol, we joked and carried on throughout the beginning of the film, trying to keep up with the introductions of the characters and the general basis for the story

In brief, the movie follows a mother and her young daughter who have recently moved into an old apartment block after the breakup of their family. The apartment has problems with water leaking from the ceiling (Dark water), and the mother starts seeing a ghostly figure of a small girl around the apartment. As the story unfolds we began to learn that this ghost child used to live in the apartment block and had gone through a very similar situation to the real child, facing the possibility of being neglected and forgotten during her parents’ divorce.

As it turns out, this ghost child was referred to as ‘Kawaii’ throughout the movie. I assume that was her actual name, but as slightly inebriated children of the internet generation we could not stop making jokes about how cute ‘Kawaii’ was in all of the jump scares and ‘frightening’ scenes of the film. While these scenes were definitely well directed and horrifying, as a group we laughed our way through the terror, yelling at the screen and enthusiastically enjoying the film.

Interestingly our collective understanding (or Misunderstanding) of the Japanese term ‘Kawaii’ shaped our experience of the film, regardless of how insignificant its use seemed to the overall story.
As I understand it, the term ‘Kawaii’ means adorable or cute and has been attributed to a section of Japanese popular culture that embody these qualities. In the context of this film, it seemed odd to name the ghostly apparition that was depicted as threatening and horrifying, after a term that was used to describe things that were cute and innocent.
Looking back at the ending of the film and the motivations given for the ghostly girl, the name Kawaii seems slightly more apt to the character and was probably a conscious decision by the film makers.

-Nathan Smith

Follow (and reblog) your Heart.

I want a redo my week 2 post, as I feel like my direction has changed somewhat considerably since I started. I want to have a closer look at Pokemon fan generated content.  While I have enjoyed playing TPP, I feel like it’s a bit of a novel concept. Sure, the gamely might describe utopian democracy, I’m not so interested in political phenomena or collaborative gameplay. I have found myself more and more browsing the inter-webs, particularly Tumblr looking at fan art, fiction and Pokemon fan theories than watching TPP progress rather tediously. While this change may make me appear fickle or that I’m uncommitted, I’d like to think that this change has been more  of a process of self discovery, in that it’s shown me what I’m really interested in!

Like most of my pioneering online experiences, I first stumbled upon Tumblr.com alone in that family study at the recommendation of some school friends. One of the boys at school had written his Tumblr URL down in the corner of one of my exercise books. I remember copying the link into the address bar and scrolling through his blog and thinking Holy crap this is so cool!  There wasn’t much actual writing, more just content that had been ‘reblogged’ from elsewhere, which I remember thinking was weird, as my previous experiences of blogging were written articles.The art and content that users create (that I have found thus far) ranges in form from GIFs, comics, fan art, shared YouTube videos, photos and the occasional textual post.

A few years on and Tumblr has become part of my daily routine. The kinds of humour and cultural mash-ups that appear on my dashboard not only illicit nostalgia, laughter and cynicism for popular culture, but also as a scholar, invite me to ask questions of my own political and cultural views of the world. How does this relate to Pokemon? Let me just share some of the awesome Tumblr user generated art:tumblr_n9pu4gJw0w1t7b5qro2_500tumblr_myfanqBYXN1rf9weto1_500tumblr_naem0sexxV1sv7wvqo1_500 tumblr_lvnzmySrhA1qhi51bo1_500

The curation and generation of Pokemon fan content is unbelievable, as people from around the globe share their ideas and draw on the best content from other sites show different aspects of the Pokemon universe, both real and imagined. While Tumblr.com was created in the U.S, there are any users from all over the globe. As much as l love Pokemon, I haven’t ever been too involved in the fan culture that accompanies the anime series or the games, so I’m keen to explore more, and delve deeper into understand the who, how and why of Pokemon fan cultures as I did when I first found Tumblr.

Links to some Pokefan Tumblogs!

http://pokemon-personalities.tumblr.com

http://alternative-pokemon-art.tumblr.com

http://pokemongifs.tumblr.com

http://pika-chu.tumblr.com

My Social Village

What is the word for when you are sixteen years old and your friend goes missing from school for a week unexplained and you don’t want to call his home phone because said friend’s Mum terrifies you, plus you are slightly afraid he is dead and don’t want to make things awkward? I tried looking in the dictionary for that extremely common scenario and I found nothing – stupid piece of trash. The closest I can come up with is Monster Hunter 3.

Monster Hunter is a fantasy/RPG series developed by Capcom that is hugely popular in Japan. Until about 2 hours ago that was about all I knew of it other than its ability to make me assume my closest friend dead. Taking inspiration from the idea of the week’s lecture on monster culture, I decided to delve further into this slightly less than high definition world to see what all the fuss is about. I have chosen to watch a Let’s Play series by acclaimed YouTuber GamingBliss; I don’t like him.

My immediate perception of this game was: “Cool, a worse version of Dark Souls”, followed by “hey, that dinosaur is pretty cute” followed by “I wish he didn’t kill that dinosaur”. What I can gather from this video is Monster Hunter is a game largely focused on self-driven goals. The protagonist, some sort of emotionless village protector, seeks errands from the village people who always have slightly too much to say. These errands usually (perhaps always?) involve slaughtering a monster in a nearby area and gathering its remains, I guess as proof of the kill. Monster Hunter’s strong focus on enemy design, as well as the enormous scope and scale of the game are what I would immediately attribute its success to. Surely there must be more reasons, right?

“Due to the nature of the game’s multi-player system, particularly with the PSP and 3DS, when playing with others, you will almost invariably be playing with someone you know—more often than not, a friend.” – Toshi Nakamura, Kotaku

Nakamura attributes the culture of Japan and its imperial origins creating a “need to fit into a community” to the huge success of Monster Hunter (Nakamura, 2013). What I find interesting in this hypothesis is that it is not a direct feature of the game which draws the appeal of an audience, rather the sociability of it in which its features cater towards. As I know very little about sociability in gaming in an eastern context, I think it would be interesting to explore this further in contrast to western gaming audiences and our need for community (if any). I am still unsure if I will continue this in relation to Monster Hunter.

Nakamura, T, 2013, ‘Why Monster Hunter is So Popular in Japan (and Struggles Everywhere Else)’, Kotaku, http://kotaku.com/5980436/why-monster-hunter-is-so-popular-in-japan-and-struggles-everywhere-else

Gear’s Heart (歯車のハート): A Paper Automaton

Gear's Heart

The design above is called The Gear’s Heart, created by paper engineer Haruki Nakamura. Nakamura lives in Japan and designs paper automatons and toys for his company KAMIKARA. Earlier last year I found a video of his creation on YouTube called ‘歯車のハート Gear’s heart’. It’s a paper automaton made up of 12 gears that rotate three times before returning to the same position.

At first, I was dubious of what the video entailed. I had found it on a papercraft (/po/) subboard on 4chan; a site that commonly produces strange subcultures and dubious (and potentially scarring) links. But the video gave me an insight in to the the artist’s passions and motivation for creating such a complicated model. Despite the language barrier, the design alone and its movement are reasons why this videos has been viewed over a million times.

The video seems old, perhaps filmed in his bedroom under low lighting, a static hum. The red heart is poorly lit in front of saturated curtains. His disembodied arm is pointing out different aspects. He makes an effort to not enter the frame. You can sense Haruki idolises his creation even if you don’t speak Japanese. The heart is the centre piece. This video is for his creation. He rotates the handle and his creation moves. Each gear turns and the structure pulses. I’m transfixed.

‘I have to make this’ I remember thinking. I can make this. I’m going to make this.

 

I still haven’t made it.

The completion of such a project is itself an achievement. As is the process of transforming a 2D object into a tangible 3D object. It’s the type of construction you would expect to cost a lot of money. But the model is free and distributed everywhere online. However, the creator does offer a Paypal account to pay for an “official” copy. Although I can’t imagine paying for something when there’s a download link offered on many sources. I don’t even know if the design can be attributed to the author of the video.  Especially when Sabi996 offers it for free on DeviantArt. The model is almost a fable. It felt like I had just breached an underground subculture. Somewhere I didn’t understand aurally, but visually I was learning.

 

The Japan of my childhood

My knowledge of things that are ‘Asian’ is pretty limited. After seeing Pokemon something I used to watch as a child with my twin brother, I start to wonder what other shows I watched as a child originated from these cultures. First I wondered about Dragon Ball Z and then to one that I also loved as a child, Sailor Moon.

I typed into Google Sailor Moon origin, which directed me to Wikipedia. After that I realized its actual origin is Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. I feel surprised that as a child hadn’t realized it wasn’t Western, it didn’t seem like another culture to me, it just seemed like another cartoon to me.

I also only thought it was a TV show (apparently there is a new and improved series!) and had no idea it was in fact a Manga series.

I started to think of other things that i used to play like the Tamagotchi and Sonic the Hedgehog

My initial reaction to things seemingly ‘Asian’ honestly makes me think of things foreign and boring and things I don’t understand, which is probably just a ‘Western’ reaction. It’s as if I’ve been programmed to think of them as the ‘other’. To realize that something in my childhood was actually this makes me question our perspective of us VS them as adults. As a child you don’t see things as divided, like East and West, but just as it is.

Now I’ve come to the conclusion that I will be researching the Japan of my childhood and the things I didn’t realize were ‘Asian’ and why it was that way.

Japan – Making horror beautiful

‘… when you feel the need to inflict pain?’

Is what you might be thinking when someone you know says they are going to watch a horror movie.

Well, maybe not so cut and dry as that but there is a definite attraction to pain in most horror movies, an attraction that Japanese film makers seem to convey so beautifully. With regard to horror movies though, the movie Audition is the most ethereal experience I have ever had.

The director of the movie Audition, Takashi Miike, does not intend to classify his movies as any particular genre, even though after viewing Audition I was left with a feeling that resembled anything but safe. This is a serious warning; if you watch Audition, watch it with friends or family.

Upon seeing Audition I had the expectation that afterwards I would be scared of dark spaces for a while, I wasn’t scared of dark spaces though, I was confused, I was confused about what reality was as a whole and how I existed within it, and that was a wee bit more scarier, hence the reason why you need a familiar face around to see you through it.

The first time I watched Audition I was lucky enough to obtain a copy of it from my lecturer, the second time I watched it– I watched it on YouTube.

However, I don’t recommend this for a first time viewing. The colouring in Audition is one of its best features and the lack of resolution in the gritty YouTube image, cheapens the whole experience, to the point where I wouldn’t bother.

I couldn’t hire it at my local video store but you might have better luck. Otherwise I’m sure you could order it online.

Made in 1999 and set in the present day there is every reason Audition would include some reference to cyber-culture, which in the last decade had made a prominent presence in Japanese Horror, however, culturally I felt the story was more traditional, using family and love as the main destructive forces. Body disfiguration is a key component to its horror value.

My interpretation of the submissive orient did impact how I saw many of the characters’ mannerism, and often when I saw how the women in the film would make themselves small and look down when talking, I thought they were being unnecessarily shy. As I said though, I think this could be my lack of understanding of social dynamics in Asian culture, resulting in me using stereotyping to perceive their presence in conversations. In general I feel a twinge of concern about the position of women in the film, however, the storyline I think might portray enough of a detachment from reality to give it some reprieve.