Autoethnography In the Art Space

Seeing as Digital Asia is such an important subject on this blog, I thought I’d start by moving away from it in order to steady any audiences desensitisation after reading post after post about Godzilla and E-Sports. Instead, I, as an experiment, took to the streets and analysed my own reaction to one of my favourite past times and forms of art, Analogue Photography. Or in other words, Let’s see how many marks i can loose right off the bat.


Unlike most examples of autoethnography expressed on this site, My experience stems from a culture that I am deeply embedded in. Whether or not this is an issue was not specified by Ellis, Adams and Bochner in their article Autoethnography: An Overview. Instead focusing on ones ability to recount epiphanies based on studying yourself within a cultural context. This became my main basis for analysis when partaking in street photography.

My methodology, as far as I understood it to be accurate in the autoethnografic format was as follows:

  • Focusing less on the task at hand, and more on how I reacted to certain circumstances. This action came in varying difficulties according to my own flow, or the ease in which I could become automated in my decisions and reactions within a medium that I find enjoyable and balances on the line of perfect difficulty (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).
  • Making notes on my own pros and cons within this experience, taking from ethnographic methodologies such as focusing on my interaction with others within the culture, tools, pacing, specific practices and small nuances within the street photography society.
  • openly discuss post reflection to certain situations which I faced that fall within the lines of a cultural experience. This aspect was originally going to be in written form, however, due to a strong emotional response to two specific ordeals, I found it much more natural to move through the post analysis in discussion form.

Focusing on these three pillars, I found that autoethnography is a challenging yet creatively liberating practice. It is difficult to both emerse yourself in a culture in a way that creates authentic responses, while being removed from ones self enough to analyse your actions and emotions in an academic matter. On the other hand however, it is incredibly liberating to know that creating a subjective view on this culture becomes a viable resource because you and your subjective reactions to situations within the confines of the society are the focus of the study. With practice and more discipline in the art of autoethnography, I believe that it is one of the most superior ways in which to present tangible research on the ever evolving and reactionary nature of societies and culture.


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow. New York: Harper & Row.
Ellis, C., Adams, T. and Bochner, A. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, [online] 12(1). Available at: [Accessed 7 Aug. 2016].

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