Please feel free to check out my final assignment for DIGC330 which is a storify on the consumption of origami in Australia.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did creating it!
- Char x
Please feel free to check out my final assignment for DIGC330 which is a storify on the consumption of origami in Australia.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did creating it!
In first approaching this autoethnographic task, the four of us had grouped together in order to determine what would be our field site. Travelling to Asia, was out of the question, and we had all experienced Asian food to a similar extent as well. What we did however determine was that we had all held differing experiences in regards to Japanese anime, ranging from the extensive, to almost nothing at all. Although this determined our media format, the plethora of anime in existence made the selection of a single series extremely difficult. However, the one that continuously entered the conversation was Cowboy Bebop.
As influenced by Ellis’ definition of autoethnography as “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” (Ellis et al, 2011), we decided to present our project in a gogglebox-esque format, combing clips of the show and our recorded reactions. This provided real time responses to each of the four viewers as they happened, allowing direct comparison of responses and both a visual and verbal account of individual epiphanies.
The selection of Cowboy Bebop was quite interesting in itself as we had never seen the series screened in Australia. The show is not available on Netflix, and due to its creation in the late 1990s, no advertisements are currently being used. Access then became somewhat of an issue, resulting in us borrowing a physical DVD set of the series. However, the quality of the DVD itself became very questionable after cutting on halfway through the first session. A quick search on YouTube provided us with the first three episodes in full, with English dubs and high definition. This forced us to question how these episodes were getting past the stringent copyright laws on YouTube, questioning whether the age of the series was a factor, or did the series just slip through the cracks. YouTube’s community guidelines rules specifically state that you cannot “use content in your videos that someone else owns the copyright to, such as music tracks, snippets of copyrighted programs, or videos made by other users, without necessary authorizations” (YouTube, 2016). Each of these three episodes was taken from a different channel, each demonstrating blatant copy write infringement. YouTube even flagged our video when attempting to upload! Further research into Anime message boards and forums provided no conclusive answer the problem, with some users stating that their posting of videos were taken down almost immediately, while others list channels hosting over 500 clips of Anime, to which they don’t own the rights.
The word-of-mouth recommendations of Cowboy Bebop by numerous individuals (both our age and older) and thus, representative of its cult following. Furthermore, research into this cult found over 46,000 subscribers to the Cowboy Bebop sub-reddit, a rating of 9/10 on IMBD, and two differing ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for the movie, 64% critics from critics and 90% from the audience. It was this cult following that led us to the conclusion that the series must be quite long such as other cult anime series like One Piece. However, we soon determined that this was wrong with the series holding only one season, and one movie. This furthermore made us question, why Cowboy Bebop had such a popular following in both Western Countries and Japan.
A particular element of the episodes that puzzled us was the music soundtrack that accompanied fight scenes as well as the theme song that played at the introduction of each episode. Jazz has its origins in New Orleans, so it was surprising to see it use in a Japanese film. Despite this, the music in Cowboy Bebop was composed by Yoko Kanno with The Seatbelts, a blues and jazz band. These composers wrote the iconic Cowboy Bebop opening song titled Tank which has been embedded below if you wish to listen to it.
Interesting, the Cowboy Bebop sub -reddit has many positive comments about the inclusion of original music, supporting the ideal that the original sound track in the series is a key factor for its popularity. Maybe the utilisation of jazz music was a way to attract audiences from more Westernised backgrounds.
Importantly, director of Cowboy Bebop, Shinichiro Watanabe was so impressed with Kanno’s score that he was inspired to go back and re-write scenes. Each scene essentially had its own unique score and song.
Charlotte found the use of the jazz music quite odd, as having grown up playing Jazz music herself, her interpretation of where jazz music fits in in terms of interpretation, art and self expression was not in line with the use of jazz in Cowboy Bebop. However all four of us noted that the theme music was similar to what we had heard in more Westernised films such as Mission Impossible and James Bond which also have orchestral music in some of there scenes.
All in all, the experience of anime was different for all four of us. Perhaps this was due to the contextual knowledge we already had about elements of the series, including how much anime we had previously consumed. Because of this, not all of us enjoyed the episodes as much as we thought, because we had pre-conceived ideas as to what it was about. Cowboys fighting people. I guess we were all wrong!
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1
The one thing that I have to mention first off is a mistake a made in my previous post of which I am attributing to my lack of knowledge and understanding of the Japanese art origami. After starting my research, I quickly became aware and slightly devastated to learn that the figures that I created and documented in my first post were in fact dove’s, not crane’s. There is a distinct difference in the final product of each figure, as well as the process of creating a crane being a lot more complex than that of a dove.
Regardless of this mistake, I have continued to research into the assumptions I made in my first post.
The exact origin of origami has often been debated due to the fact that paper degrades quickly leaving no trace as to where origami originated from and who first invented it. It has been said that paper was first invented in China by Cai Lun (also written as Ts’ai Lun) in 105 AD, whilst archaeologist evidence suggests that paper was invented even earlier than this. Paper was then brought to Japan by Buddhist monks in the sixth century AD.
Interestingly, in relation to my curiosity about the importance of the ‘crane’, I found out that the oldest known document written about origami surfaced in 1797 and was called the Senbazuru Orikata, which translates to ‘How to Fold One Thousand Cranes’. In Japan, the crane is a mystical creature and is believed to live for a thousand years. Culturally speaking, in Japan, China and Korea, the crane represents good fortune and longevity. Perhaps this not only answers my query about why the crane is so important but it also provides a reason why in the movie ‘Sadako and a Thousand Paper Cranes’ the main character Sadako tries to make a thousand origami cranes. Maybe this is because she is hoping that she will overcome her leukaemia and therefore prolong her life.
Further to this, the crane has developed a worldwide symbol of children’s desire for peace, however this concept has developed over time in conjunction with the traditional meaning of good fortune and longevity.
The meaning behind the crane then led me to consider if there was a meaning behind the floral prints on origami paper. I was able to determine that the two most prominent flowers, at least in the origami paper that I bought, are the cherry blossom and the Japanese lotus flower. Cherry blossoms are actually Japan’s national flowers, (I feel like I did know this) whilst the Japanese lotus has lots of different meanings depending on the colour, although generally involves the concept of rebirth.
Sadako actually wished for world peace instead of her own health and I can’t help but notice a clear link with the text of my first blog task, Gojira, which also had an underlying message surrounding the negative effects of war, atomic bombs and further nuclear testing.
This concept has really challenged me to consider my naive reaction to the frustrations of origami making. While yes it might be difficult for a beginner to grasp the difficult folds, twists and creases of an origami sheet, it is important to stop and look at the whole picture and see why origami has such a powerful cultural resonance with Asian countries. Whilst I was also pondering the importance of the crane and its traditional meaning in an Asian setting, I stumbled across this wonderful quote by Yoshizawa Akira, who has been acknowledged for his creative origami, which I think really explains the beauty of origami:
“You can fold a simple quadrilateral paper into any shape as you want. I wished to fold the laws of nature, the dignity of life, and the expression of affection into my work…Folding life is difficult, because life is a shape or an appearance caught in a moment, and we need to feel the whole of natural life to fold one moment”.
Hence through my research I have discovered that origami paper itself is an intricate story of Japanese culture, with importance given to colour, floral patterns and design. I also learnt that the gold of origami paper represent love and loyalty whilst silver represents elegance. Clearly I had no idea of the traditional meaning behind the different elements on origami sheets, although I did and still do appreciate the beauty of each individual sheet of paper. Not only this but the importance of each shape or figure that can be created with the paper no doubt has an underlying cultural significance in an Asian setting that I was not aware of. Perhaps this is because my cultural experience has been hindered by lack of understanding and limited access to Japanese in general. Thus I am quite happy to conclude that my autoethnographic encounter coupled with research has allowed me to address my assumptions whilst also answering some unanswered questions presented to me in my first blog on origami.
Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 2016, history.com, viewed 14 September 2016, <http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/bombing-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki>.
Cherry Blossom Meaning 2016, enki village, viewed 15 September 2016, <http://www.enkivillage.com/cherry-blossom-meaning.html>.
Echo, A 2016, Sadako and the 1,000 Paper Cranes, image, Emaze, viewed 15 September <https://www.emaze.com/@ACLQIFLW/Sadako-and-the-1,000>.
Goldstein-Gidoni, O 2005, ‘The Production and Consumption of ‘Japanese Culture’ in the Global Cultural Market’, Journal of Consumer Culture, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 155-179.
History of Origami 2016, Origami Resource Centre, viewed 14 September 2016, <http://www.origami-resource-center.com/history-of-origami.html>.
History of Origami 2016, Origami Instructions, viewed 14 September 2016, <http://www.origami-instructions.com/history-of-origami.html>.
Meaning of The Origami Crane 2012, JCCC Origami Crane Project, viewed 15 September 2016, <http://www.jccc.on.ca/origami-cranes/pdf/meaning_of_the_origami_crane.pdf>.
Origami 2016, Japan Zone, viewed 14 September 2016, <https://www.japan-zone.com/culture/origami.shtml>.
Lotus Flower Wallpaper 2016, image, pcwallart.com, viewed 15 September 2016, <http://pcwallart.com/lotus-flower-wallpaper-3.html>.
Sadako Sasaki 2016, image, Activity Village, viewed 14 September 2016, <http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/sadako-sasaki>.
Williams, R 2006, The Invention of Paper, Institute of Paper Science and Technology at Georgia Tech, viewed 13 September 2016, <http://ipst.gatech.edu/amp/collection/museum_invention_paper.htm>.
Wallpaper HD 2016, image, Schone Wallpaper, viewed 15 September 2016, <http://www.schonewallpaper.de/wallpaper-hd/page/8>.
For my individual research project I have decided to examine and essentially learn how to create origami, which is a traditional Asian form of arts and crafts. I will document my process through either wordpress or storyboard with the inclusion of images and videos.
As Ellis outlines, autoethnography involves the interpretation of a text which is often influenced by our own personal experiences and understanding. It is this understanding which then influences our interpretation of a text, which may often been obscured or bias depending on that understanding. Utilising this definition and understanding of autoethnography, I spent today looking through my old primary school books to locate any Japanese related materials and came across this gem:
At the young age of 6 in prep class in Victoria, I was introduced to Japan, more specifically the creative art of origami. I remember enjoying origami at school, especially creating the dog. Perhaps this is because it is one of the easiest figures to create.
Interestingly, when I asked mum where all my other Japanese books were she simply replied:
“you hated Japanese. When I asked you if you wanted me to keep your Japanese books you said no, chuck them out I won’t ever need them”.
What a stupid mistake that was… But this has puzzled me as I distinctly remember being fascinated by the traditional, thin, silky doubled sided blossom covered sheets that were so delicate and pretty. Ironically though I found my Term 4 report card from Prep, and low and behold I had received Highly Commendable’s (as that was the scoring system in Victoria at the time…weird hey?) for every subject except LOTE (which stands for Languages Other Than English – yes I did have to google this because I couldn’t figure it out myself!)
So perhaps I wasn’t very good at the subject as a whole and only liked creating dog figured origami! Regardless I still got this certificate for excellence in Japanese (go me):
Moving on from my childhood experience of Japanese and origami, the first hurdle that I had to overcome with this project was locating traditional Japanese origami sheets. There was an abundance of online stores that you could buy from, but by the time my order would arrive it would be the Friday that our second blog task is due! So I started to search for physical stores. As I had limited knowledge of Japanese or Asian style shops that might have origami supplies, I really struggled to find anything. I spent a lot of time on Google searching, as well as asking friends if they knew of any stores that sell origami. I eventually came across two stores that were located in the city. One called Daiso Japan and another called Kinokuniya. As I work in the city during some weekdays it wasn’t too much hassle getting between the two shops. Daiso Japan was a lot like the Dollar King or Reject Shop that you have at your local Westfield, but everything was in Japanese. I struggled massively to figure out what each aisle contained stock wise but eventually found some Japanese paper and an origami book. I found it odd that the staff were mainly Asian except for the person at the checkout who was a middle aged white male.
Then I went to Kinokuniya and I could not believe how large their Asian section was. I was literally in Asian book heaven! I was also really pleased and slightly surprised that most of the origami books had the traditional Japanese characters alongside English translation in a step by step setting. I immediately ignored the books that were only in Japanese, because I knew my limited understanding of their language would only hinder my experience of origami. $80 later spent on three more origami books and more origami paper and I was set.
When I got home I was so excited to try out my new potential hobby. I wanted to focus on the crane as I have a disjointed memory of watching the movie ‘Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes’ when I was younger in which the main character Sadako created 1000 cranes while she was in hospital suffering from leukaemia.
I took pictures of my 3 attempts at the traditional figure ‘the crane’:
I have to admit, my first reaction to creating origami was simple: frustration. I really didn’t think it would be that hard to fold and manoeuvre the paper into the shape that looked so perfect in my origami book. Regardless, on my third attempt I mastered it. However many thoughts were rushing through my mind:
Looking at what I will be doing in my next blog, I will be using my personal understanding and experiences from when I was younger and the questions I have formed around origami to achieve a wider cultural, political and/or social understanding of the Japanese art. As Jones (2013) outlines, I will research and challenge my own assumptions and perhaps uncover why I formed such perceptions in the first place. I would not be surprised if time, which is often associated with autoenthography, will also have an impact on my assumptions and reflection.
Ellis, C, Adam, T & Bochner, A 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 12, no. 1, art. 1, <http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095>.
Jones, H, Adam, T & Ellis, C 2013, ‘Handbook of autoethnography’, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, pg. 10.
One of the main assumptions I made in relation to Ishiro Honda’s 1954 film, Gojira that I researched was in relation to the oxygen destroyer and Godzilla himself being metaphorical concepts related to nuclear warfare. As Umphrey (2009) highlights, “Gojira is a not just a monster laying waste to a city, but a commentary on environmental and nuclear politics.” This is an important concept considering that World War II had only just recently ended prior to the release of Gojira.
Wilson (2013) outlines that in the 1950s, Second World War films were very popular. Such films often relied upon either original footage from US sources or specially built models and miniatures as was seen in Gojira. It is also interesting to note that Ishiro Honda directed other war related films prior to Gojira such as ‘Taiheiyo no washi’, which translates to Eagle of the Pacific and ‘Saraba Rabauru’ (Farewall Rabaul). Wilson further outlines that the popularity of war films in Japan were due to the nostalgia inflicted in viewers which provided great cash flow and commercial gain for the films. Interestingly though, war films during this time seemed to appeal to men more so than women (Wilson, 2013), so perhaps this explains Honda’s decision to incorporate a love triangle in Gojira in the hope to attract the female Japanese population.
Godjira also represents the inconceivable destructiveness of the new atomic age (Brougher, 2013). Similarly also does the oxygen destroyer. Hence my assumption that Dr. Serizawa’s hesitation was due to the terrible implications that could have been far reaching if his creation was found to be in the hands of the wrong person. It was essentially a metaphor for power and nuclear war. Further to this, Gojira represents the destruction of Japan caused by the awakening of the American “monster’ of war and nuclear weapons during World War II. Hence the movie is trying to outline that nuclear war cannot be ended or solved by further experimental and atomic bomb material (the oxygen destroyer). However in the end Dr. Serizawa has to use the oxygen destroyer to help Japan, which ultimately results in his death to prevent the wrongful use of his creation.
Lastly, as Shapiro (2002) highlights, Emiko struggles with the interest of two rival men chasing her. There was great emphasis during the 1950s on the importance of family, often with arranged marriages still taking place (Friedman, 1992). However the evolving role of women is most apparent in Emiko’s attitudes toward marriage and the family system. Multiple sources that I visited suggested that Emiko was actually engaged to Dr. Serizawa, until she broke off her engagement with him when she went to visit him at his lab, in order to be with Hideto Ogata. Research has allowed me to understand that the role of the Japanese woman was changing around the 1950s towards giving women a voice whereas previously they were perceived as the subservient gender.
Following my research, I have come to really appreciate the influence World War II had on the film as well as the depicted changing roles of women around that time. I now understand that the movie is an important part of Japanese history, rather than simply a confusing movie about a giant looking dinosaur and a highly emotional woman in a love triangle.
Autoethnography is a completely new term for me. In the context of Digital Asia it essentially describes the way we analyse our experiences of consuming Asia related content, which is slightly obscured due to our own personal context and understanding. It is the way in which our own personal experiences influence our understanding of cultural texts. As Ellis says we are “readers into the scene…in order to experience an experience”. With many different types of media available at simply the click of a button, Autoethnography shows how our personal understanding of different cultures can create a bias perception, whilst the text in which we consume can often challenge such ideals.
I personally have had a limited experience of Asian culture, however I do have a guilty pleasure for the dating show ‘If You Are the One’ and the typical orientalised movies such as the classic Disney film Mulan (which is definitely one of my favs). I have also re-vamped my love for Pokemon by playing Pokemon Go! Apart from this, to say my experience of Asian culture is limited is actually quite accurate.
Gojira was actually my very first experience of a Godzilla film. Although I am aware of the creature, I had this pre-conceived idea that Godzilla was very similar to that of King Kong. Despite this, I was thrilled to learn that we were watching the 1954 film as I actually adore black and white films. Perhaps this is due to my mother’s influence. We would watch Doris Day and Elizabeth Taylor classics, which were nearly always in black and white (if you haven’t see the Mirror Crack’d I highly suggest you do). It was also great to be live on Twitter and observe other peoples interpretations of the film. Here are some of the observations and notes I made during Godzilla:
And here are a couple of screenshots that highlight some other observations myself and the DIGC330 class made:
All in all I enjoyed the movie and found it quite easy to pick out what I thought was specific Asian culture ideas and concepts. Although I think with a bit more research of the themes portrayed in the film, my cultural knowledge will continue to expand and provide me with insight into to things that perhaps I disregarded as significant. I’m looking forward to this!
For week 1 it says we need to post a short intro about ourselves and our interests to the subject so here goes!
My name is Charlotte Olsen and I am a fourth year Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Communications and Media Student majoring in International Communication and Media Studies, minoring in Journalism and Professional Writing (gee isn’t that one huge mouthful!)
I could also potentially be completing a minor in Digital Media however I’m yet to make a decision on this. Having completed BCM112 and DIGC202 and loving both of them, I thought it would be quite fitting to complete DIGC330 especially with my re-newed love for Pokemon taking off with Pokemon Go! I am also really interested in Digital Asia as it is not something I know a lot about and I am eager to learn. The concept of autoethnography scares me a little, and I hope I get it right in my blog posts coming up!