week 7

The New Human Right

Last post I tried to investigate the extent to which North Korean citizens had access to and engaged in online video gaming. My investigations were aimed at providing a baseline from which to compare a contemporary aspect of western cultures with the culture of the Democratic Republic North Korea (DRNK). The other aspects of media I had researched in this country left me quite confused, angry and empathetic with the population lock into a despotic regime. Confused because I could not rationalize how a culture so trapped by the irrational ideology of a small elite minority and an unbalanced family of puppet leaders, could exist in the detente of the 21st Century. Angry because I could not understand why the rest of the cultures of the world allowed this total media control to happen and empathetic because I could understand that they were missing out on a freedom western cultures simply take for granted.

People in Australia and other first, second and even third world cultures have the media freedom to use, produce and transmit information and digital products across the World Wide Web. http://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/ states that the search engine Google receives a daily search volume of 3.5 billion. Although no accurate statistics were available, this level of freedom does not exist in the DRNK. If we watch the Denis Rodman documentary and examine the set-up of the Technology Centre there is one man with the Google home page on the screen but he is not searching he is acting the part of a media engaged citizen. If it is so important change the outside world perception of a media oppressed culture then an intelligent person would do it with an actual interaction rather than a farcical set up.

If autoethnographic research is about using the important discoveries in the researcher’s life what I have discovered about the use of media in the Democratic Republic of North Korea has really had an impact on me. My studies into media and communication have broadened my knowledge and understanding of how media is used in many contexts and for many purposes. My enlightenment has shown me how powerful the use of media, specifically digital media, can be in improving the life of the user. In the 21st Century I feel that access to and freedom to engage with digital media is a new human right.

 

Pace , Steven (2012) Writing the self into research: Using grounded theory analytic strategies in autoethnography in TEXT Special Issue: Creativity: Cognitive, Social and Cultural Perspectives

eds. Nigel McLoughlin & Donna Lee Brien, April 2012

http://www.textjournal.com.au/speciss/issue13/Pace.pdf

 

 

Raab, Diana (2013) Transpersonal Approaches to Autoethnographic Research and Writing

The Qualitative Report 2013 Volume 18, Article 42, 1-18

http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR18/raab42.pdf

 

Philaretou, A.G. & Allen, K.R. 2006, “Researching Sensitive Topics through Autoethnographic Means”, Journal of Men’s Studies, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 65.

http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/222637651?pq-origsite=summon

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The Many Faces of Anime

In one of my previous articles I displayed an image to reinforce my argument on my concept of expressions, and today I want to explore these expressions a bit further. The image, which can be seen here, shows a number of different ‘expressions’ which I have observed as common expressions in Anime productions. Each of the expressions have their own unique touches, and in this blog I will draw similar images from my chosen anime Fairy Tail, identify them with one of the moods or expressions from the image, and see if there’s a way to link similar expressions together based on the characters eyes. Keep in mind that I may not be accurate in my identification, as this is a self-reflected study.

Happiness – Fairy Tail’s Mira Jane

The first face I want to take a look expresses happiness, while keeping the characters eyes closed. I have observed that it is quite common in Anime for characters to close their eyes when they smile. This idea seems unique to Anime, and may be based on the natural human reaction to slightly squint when you smile. An example that first came to mind was Fairy Tail’s Mira Jane, a character who is always very friendly and is rarely aggressive in the series.

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Frustration/Anger – Fairy Tail’s Levy (left)

This face is one that demonstrates anger and frustration, often in response to an insult from another character. The hollow eyes effect, when used to signify anger, is a more visualized version of blind rage, where a character is so angry that their pupils dilate in anger. Fairy Tail’s Lucy often pulls this face in reaction to jokes or insults from characters like Natsu and Happy – the above image shows Fairy Tail’s Levy pulling the same face.

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Anger & Iconography – Fairy Tail’s Happy (Left) and Natsu Dragneel (Right)

In this third image I want to explore the idea of iconography. Iconography is the use of visual language or iconography for expression emotion beyond the scope of the face. The identifiable feature of iconography in the image above is the mark known as a ‘cruciform’ on the character’s foreheads, which depicts popping veins. The above image depicts anger, through use of techniques such as the cruciform, as well as the sharp hollow eyes and the sharpened teeth that, in other situations the characters do not possess. Iconography is quite distinctive in anime and adds another dimension to a character’s expression.

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Lust – Fairy Tail’s Gray (left) and Juvia (right)

Among Fairy Tail’s many story arcs, there are many side-stories that continue throughout the story. One of those recurring stories is Juvia Lockser’s obsession with Gray Fullbuster. Across the series she is seen following Gray, and often proclaims her love to him, particularly to other members of the guild. Juvia is seen in the image above with a look of love and lust, another expression which is often seen in anime productions.

Crying - Fairy Tail's Happy

Crying – Fairy Tail’s Happy

This is one of the few different ways that characters cry in anime. The idea of water flowing from the characters eyes is in fact not often used in emotional scenes of the anime. Over the 30 hours of anime I watched so far this session, I witnessed this style of crying mostly in situations where there is an inadequate reason to cry, such as Happy (pictured above) being denied fish.

As is evident in the examples above, there are a number of expressions that are used widely across anime productions to convey an expression or mood.

Week 7: Autoethnographic Practice

I have been particularly confronted by the need to use autoethnography in my weekly blog posts. In deciphering my more recent posts in which I feel I have provided my strongest examples, I can begin to discern a methodology of an ‘educated ethnography’ I have employed to better investigate J-Pop.

Autoethnography as discussed by Ellis, Adams and Bochner as a marrying of autobiography and ethnography (2011). Put simply a drawing of comparisons between personal experience and cultural investigation. Ellis et al also discuss the importance of showing vs. telling when performing autoethnography as the author must remain as subjective as possible. As the area of study is completely new to me, for the most part I can only draw comparisons through my personal knowledge of industrial practices in Japan that I have already explored as part of my university degree, areas such as fan interaction with cultural content and the Japanese film and television industry. My personal knowledge of more local music industry practice is very specific and thus is difficult to apply to the larger industrial process that J-Pop represents. The majority of the autoethnographical process I have established relies on this and the developments provided through a processing of recent preceding research into the J-Pop industry. In their overview of autoethnography Ellis et al (2011) discuss the importance of the epiphany, which has guided my understanding of the practice in discussing my constantly evolving understanding of the practices of the industry. It is these epiphanies that prompt me to further investigate the viability of these connections and consequently finding more avenues of exploration.

References:

Ellis, C; Adams T E; Bochner A P 2011 ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1 art. 10 http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

제공 (contribution)

Struggling with a direction to take my digital artefact in (which I had previously decided would be a visual representation of the international Eat Your Kimchi fan community, possibly a word-art gallery, and which subsequently changed to a simple prezi), I decided to reflect on what made the EYK fan experience so unique compared with other YouTubers that I have come to love.

Louis Cole, host of the channel FunForLouis is a comparable example from the United Kingdom, as his approach to YouTube is much like Simon and Martina’s (EYK’s two hosts) in a few ways:

  1. They both have multiple forms of media attached to their main channel in order to interact with fans (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc)
  2. They both have fan meet-ups in countries all around the world, including Australia (FunForLouis) (EatYourKimchi) ,so that they can connect with and appreciate the support that has steadily grown for them in many communities
  3. They both have merchandise shops (Louis) (EYK) which help support their channel, providing a way for fans to both show their support for the YouTubers and identify themselves as fans to the wider community (as I have by buying an EYK shirt, see previous post 유명인사 (celebrity))
  4. They both have huge international fan followings; Louis has just achieved 1 000 000 subscribers in the last few days and fans actively try to independently meet up with him in every country he travels to. Similarly, EYK often encounters fans on the street and in other countries when filming their videos, and post pictures with fans/’nasties’ on Instagram and Twitter.

These channels are both great at integrating fans into their content and they both have a creative approach to editing and presenting their videos. Additionally, they both started their channels by documenting their daily lives highlighting changes or new learning experiences. So what makes Eat Your Kimchi different? Is it the content creators who make the difference, or the fans themselves?

To me, it’s the actual fandom of EYK which stands out. Their passion, dedication, creativity, general sense of community and acceptance, and willingness to contribute their own opinions and knowledge of cultural experience is evident across YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and in real life e.g. during filmed fan-meet ups and encounters with Simon and Martina in public spaces.

Trying to think of a way to describe, display, analyse and interact with this fandom in a meaningful way, I realised that Prezi was not going to work in this context, especially considering that I have identified an innate personal need to somehow show my interaction with and interest in the world of EYK. What makes digital fandoms so unique and simultaneously personal and inclusive of difference is the participatory culture which the Internet and blurring cultural distinctions have emphasised and cultivated (Brough & Shresthova 2012). So how do I play into this culture? How do I both participate in and study the fandom of EYK?

I have decided to create a space where I (and possibly other fans) can shine a spotlight on different aspects of the EYK fandom, somewhat in the vein of Pottermore or the Pokemon Wiki. Introducing the EYK Compendium: The Fantastical Fandom of Eat Your Kimchi, brought to you by WordPress (the central fandom hub), Instagram and Twitter (two methods of additional engagement where I hope to connect with fans and use hashtags to find content and EYK fans).

A Digital (Paper) Artefact

My digital artefact is going to be an experience for me, an exploration of a community I’ve admired, but have never partook in. I’m going to embark to the other side of the Paper Craft community: designing. It’s what fuels the archive pages, fills the stream with new models, collaborations, and series, by artists from across the world. Designers, like SmileRobinson, are selecting content that they enjoy so much they want to share it with a larger audience. They do this by constructing Paper Craft models of their favourite characters, for fans to experience, build, and discover new content, in a hand-crafted collection. I’m utilising my knowledge of the Paper Craft community to design a facet of a cultural experience, to make a culture familiar for insiders, and represent a culture to outsiders (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011).

I want to design Paper Craft models of Asian content and showcase it online as templates and constructed models. Along side, I will develop a reflection of the process, the story behind the model, and encourage learning about a different culture through design. And these designs will be representations of the research fields the students of DIGC330 have chosen. You, are my subjects that have presented me with connections to unfamiliar content. I will share that knowledge back as foldable paper.

 Digital (Paper) Asia:

http://digital-paper-asia.deviantart.com/

 

*I share no affiliation with ‘Asian Paper: The Global Pulp, Paper and Board Industry.’ Although that’s a pretty cool industry group.

The Music of Anime: From Ghost in the Shell to angela

As a part of my continued foray into the various aspects of popular Asian music scenes I have decided to turn my attention this week to anime soundtracks. If you’re anything at all like me, then a big source of excitement when experiencing a new anime series for the very first time can be found in the opening sequence. This is particularly true of the opening theme song. To me, and this is an assumption I have made based on my enthusiastic pursuit of anime music in the past; anime soundtracks are often as experimental and artistically expressive as the anime series itself. By self-reflexively looking back home to the television I have experienced in Australia, I can see a level of artistic expression and audience engagement with anime music in Japan that appears to me to be absent in Australian broadcast television (Alsop 2002). These assumptions are based on an upbringing of watching Australian, American and UK produced television programs (Sheridan). My first experiences with anime music were when I watched the iconic Ghost in the Shell (warning: the video below depicts some animated nudity).

When I first watched this introduction sequence many years ago I remember distinctly disliking the song. It felt very “Eastern” and unfamiliar to me as a 15 year old Caucasian Australian. It used instruments and a style of vocal chanting that felt completely removed from the grunge and hip-hop I was listening to at the time. I chalk this initial discomfort up to several things, including my culturally-insecure adolescent state of mind, my complete inexperience with anime and the more mature depictions of both violence and nudity that I had never before encountered in an animated format (Sheridan). After all the music in anime comes as a part of a package in a way that a typical single or album release tends not to. What’s interesting to me is how quickly I found myself enjoying this song after moving past the initial stages of culture shock.

What I find fascinating is how in Japan the divide between anime soundtrack and popular music seems much blurrier than anything I’ve noticed in my own culture. The above video is the opening title sequence for an anime called Corpse Princess: Shikabane Hime, which as a series was quite enjoyable aside from the fact that it didn’t end properly. But the most important thing for me is that I fell in love with the theme song and, consequently, the band that performs it. The band is known as “angela” and have released several studio albums and have had around 13 of their songs appear on different anime soundtracks (TV Tropes 2013). The video below is footage of them performing the same theme song above at a large, live concert. I can’t think of a single example in an American or Australian television context where something like this has happened, where a band has gained significant fame and success through music that has featured on television soundtracks. But this observation is resting on the assumption that this isn’t also rare in Japan and that something about the relationship between anime culture and the music industry is nurturing these musical artists (Sheridan).

References

Alsop, C. K. 2002, ‘Home and Away: Self Reflexive Auto-/Ethnography’, Forum Qualitative Social Research, vol 3, no 3, http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~kmacd/IDSC10/Readings/Positionality/auto-eth.pdf

Sheridan, R (n.d.), ‘Autoethnography: Researcher as Participant’, An Introduction to Autoethnography, viewed 15 September 2014 http://ricksheridan.netmar.com/auto/

TV Tropes 2013, ‘Music: angela’, TV Tropes, viewed 15 September 2014 http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Music/Angela?from=Main.Angela

Autoethnography: How it all relates

For this week’s post, I will be looking at the concept of autoethnography as a methodology and considering how my individual research approach is being guided and framed by this methodology to better understand my own research and my own learning.

The term autoethnography as described by Ellis, Adams and Bochner means “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience.” Ellis and Adams also describe the autoethnographic process as being a way to communicate and tell a story (Ellis, Adams 2006)

“Autoethnography allows the researcher to move beyond traditional methods of writing, by using narrative, poetry, stream-of-consciousness, displays of artifacts, photographs, drawings, and live performances. (Hesse-Biber and Leavy, 2008)
Relating to the above quote, I will also be moving beyond the traditional methods of writing and will be making use of a digital artefact with the use of Instagram and the arrangement of images to show the process of my research.

When thinking about the blogs that I will be writing over the next 4 weeks, I will be using this term to do my research and really understand Japanese fashion on Instagram and the ways in which this culture has not only impacted Eastern societies, but also Western cultures and societies. My individual research will be specifically guided by the autoethnography processes as I will be thinking about not only what I am seeing and learning, but will also be talking and analysing my own experiences and feelings about the culture.

By using this methodology I hope that I will be able to better understand the culture, and may even possibly learn more about my own cultural identity and the ways in which this has been formed. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be asking many questions that will be taken from the DIGC lectures and the readings especially that of Ellis, Adams and Bocher (2011) and Sheridan (2012). These will help me to consistently be following the process of autoethnography and to produce more solid research.

The main points that I will be discussing over the next 3 blogs include:

  • Japanese culture – Body Image (The Skinny Model)
  • The Universal Notion of the “Selfie” – Traditional & Cultural Poses, Professional and Amateur Shots
  • Production and Consumption of Japanese Fashion Culture on Instagram

If anybody has any suggestions or anything that they think I should include in any of these posts, please let me know!!

Resources

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitativeresearch.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

Sheridan, R, “Autoethnography: Researcher as Participant: An Introduction to Autoethnography” Teaching for Success Journal, accessed 09/09/2014
http://ricksheridan.netmar.com/auto/