Author: claudialouisemuller

20 year old Media and Communications student currently in Sydney, Australia. Marketing / PR / Design / Photography

CLAUDIA MULLER: CHECK IN ON THE DA

https://claudialouisemuller.com/2018/09/21/625/

Bonjourno, (just quickly, you should read this before you continue on here)

Set the task of exploring a facet of a culture previously not experienced, I opened up to a type of research that prompts the researchers vulnerabilities (Ellis et al. 2011, 14.1.18) and cultural frameworks to gather insights typically unattainable. My field site being cosplay and its anime adaptions, I quickly realised that by immersing myself into the experience I felt vulnerable and certainly out of my comfort zone. Whether that be the idea itself as a daunting action, concealing your own identity as another’s for costume play, or whether it be the unfamiliarity with the field site itself, I was acutely aware that I was letting my feelings, thoughts, and vulnerabilities influence the way the project was migrating (Ellis et al. 2011, 14.1.3), in a way that other forms of research methodologies would certainly not allow for.

This investigation into cosplay originally was rooted in personal experience, but when I found myself hesitating to participate I found myself redirecting towards a more niche area of study; whereby perhaps there was a middle ground to find, whereby I could create looks that were alike to the characters from Studio Ghibli films, designing them to look like everyday pieces or at the very least curating costumes from everyday pieces that I already owned. Could I find a way to interact with a culture I was trying to understand in a way that was part of my own cultural framework?

IMG_0900
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Working in fashion retail and with a history of sewing projects behind me, could I take what I understood already and utilise it to imitate the feelings and processes associating with the action of cosplay? Furthermore, could I create a layered account of my experience by introducing my fondness and knowledge of anime produced by Studio Ghibli? These were all questions I set out to answer, and one that could only be facilitated by the means of autoethnography; a method whereby I could introduce an alternate voice amidst a construction of knowledge (Sturm, D. 2014).

 

As I went on to have my first swing at cosplay, or whatever it was that I deemed a variation of it, I began to realise that the research project was as much about myself as it was about the topic; “..autoethnographies offer a diverse body of works, with many often producing essentially autobiographical accounts of the self as both researcher and the researched” (Kien, G. 2007).

And so here I find myself, at a crossroads whereby I believe I have navigated down an alternate route, truly utilising my own cultural framework to gain a better understanding of other cultures around me. In translation, I will utilise the data I collect to create and curate wearable, everyday pieces that are cosplay, to a degree, and critically analyse the experience alongside further research into the area; a layered account (Ellis et al, 2011). The aspect to tackle now, I find, is distinguishing autoethnography as both a process and a product, a notion brought to my attention by both Ellis (et al, 2011) and Angus Baillie in our seminar conversation, and how they are to interrelate in this investigation.

 

All for now,

Claudia

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14.1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

Kien, G., 2007 A Western Consumer in Korea: Autoethnographical Fiction of Western Performance, Cultural Studies ⇔ Critical Methodologies, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 264-280. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1532708614565454#_i2

Sturm, D. (2014) ‘Playing With the Autoethnographical Performing and Re-Presenting the Fan’s Voice’, Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, pp. 214. Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1532708614565454

CLAUDIA MULLER: INDEPENDENT DIGITAL ASIA AUTOETHNOGRAPHY

https://claudialouisemuller.com/2018/09/11/claudia-muller-independent-digital-asia-autoethnography/

Ola mi amigos, time for another autoethnography project!

Utilising autoethnography as an approach to research can reveal qualitative insights into areas that may go amiss with traditional research methodologies, made evident by the hundreds of BCM students to pass before me. I can particularly see how the process assists many in Digital Asia, encouraging students to view Asia as ‘another’ rather than ‘other’ through immersing themselves into the culture or point of interest. This week, we were tasked with selecting a specific area of Asian interest to become literate in, prompting an account of our experience with a topic, text, product, service or platform of our choosing, to be broken down into a field site, a data type, speculative research area, and a communication format.

Now, if you ask me what the one thing of interest I have about Asia that I have yet to look into and better yet to barely begin to understand, its cosplay. I have always been aware of its existence and acknowledged its seemingly large following purely from interactions online, but with friends recently getting into it and my club having several interactions with the Universities’ Cosplay society, my interest has been peaked. Although, I was particularly curious to understand cosplay surrounding a broad spectrum of fandoms, but also that which surrounds styles adopted from Studio Ghibli. I’ll get to how I got to this point later in the blog, but growing up I didn’t get the chance to watch much anime at all, I was rudely informed only at the ripe old age of 20 that Winx Club was actually Italian and very much not anime (although it did apparently have a cult following in Japan in the 2000s).

Despite this, in high school my two best friends agreed that we should all watch the others favourite movie. While I picked Gatsby and our friend Tom picked Casino Royale, we were very lucky that our beautiful friend Georgie showed us Howl’s Moving Castle as hers. It was the beginning of my love for Studio Ghibli films. I have seen it twice more since that first movie night, and I have seen a few other cult favourites over the years such as Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service to name a few. Each and every time I have fallen in love with the illustrations, the colours, the settings, and the ability of the films to transport you elsewhere. This may stem from many years of art classes growing up, or from my studies in Design throughout uni, but I can never let my mind pass over the images without admiring them.

So here we are. Combine a need to understand and know more about the world of cosplay and an appreciation for the style and aesthetics of a studio’s animes and boom. You’ve got yourself a project. Not just any project, an

~** i n d e p e n d a n t   d i g i t a l   a s i a   a u t o e t h n o g r a p h y **~

The thought of tackling cosplay in a project like this is daunting to me, and it isn’t necessarily the idea of dressing up that scares me but the act of putting yourself in a vulnerable state perhaps? It is definitely not the costumes themselves, as I have always been fond of them for their excessive nature and the likeness to the imagination. I taught myself to sew growing up, and I was forever making weird and wonderful pieces that weren’t practical for everyday use. Most of which I have never shown anyone. I am curious, nonetheless, of cosplayers confidence when in character – I will make a very generalised assumption that it’s the ability to be someone who you are not that allows it to bloom, but who am I to know for sure? This fear of vulnerability may be perfect for this particular project, especially with the intended methodology. Ellis and Bochner (2006) support autoethnography ought to be “unruly, dangerous, vulnerable, rebellious, and creative”. My interest in anime, similarly, most likely stems from an appreciation for illustration and art; I was always drawing growing up.

Which brings us to the breakdown of this research project. I needed to set myself some guides as my mind does tend to wander when it comes to research, particularly ethnography.

Experience/Field Site:

  • Cosplay + Anime: wearable pieces?

Data Type

  • Reactions + feelings during experience
  • History and insights on cosplay
  • Physical clothing items and created pieces:
    (HMC) Calcifer earrings, skirt?
    (HMC) Sophie’s hat
    (HMC) Sophie’s dress
    (HMC) Howl’s wings – dress/top
    (Akira) Kaneda’s red jacket
    (SA) No face earrings or patch

Research/ to Speculate

  • Speculating that the fashion and aesthetic of anime often translates into cosplay which is a high level of commitment, is there a middle ground?

Communication & DA Format

  • Instagram account with vlog-style stories and photos to post. Photographs of alike finds, videos of creating processand/or blog posts to accompany.

To kick the project into gear, I began by creating an Instagram account (@cosplaystudies) to detail all of my data in a curated means, and begin to work my way through the topic. I started by looking for inspiration and put my ‘feelers out there’ but trawling through s o   m a n y   hashtags across Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr to see what people were actually cosplaying as. I feel that I mustn’t let my own preferences get in the way of understanding cosplay as a whole, rather than a specific alley of the culture itself. A true testament to the ability of autoethnography, as Rachel E. Dubrofsky & Megan M. Wood (2014) dictate “privilege participation in the form of self-reflexivity and active fashioning of the self” can act as an extension of the data or rather as a constraint. A starting point nonetheless, there’s much more to be investigated. I am most looking forward to getting to what I hope to be a very tactile part of the project.

 

That’s all for now,

Claudia

Dubrofsky R. E., Wood M.M., (2014) Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies Vol. 11, No. 3, September 2014, pp. 284

Ellis C., Bochner A. P. (2006). Analyzing analytic autoethnography: An autopsy. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, pp. 433.

AKIRA: Autoethnography

https://claudialouisemuller.com/2018/08/11/akira-an-autoethnography/ 

https://giphy.com/embed/VcRAN8c8wwOC4

This week in BCM320 we were right on to the next viewing for Digital Asia; ’88 famed anime, Akira. First, bring yourself up to speed on the film that arguably brought Japanese culture to the West; a story that follows the destruction of Neo-Tokyo at the hands of a warfare between teenage motorbike rebels and a group of kids with telekinetic powers. Set in 2019, the parallels between what was predicted from a post-cold-war produced film and how the world looks now peaked my interest. They got some things right when it came to their eerie foresight of hosting the Olympics and the sheer scale of the cityscape that Tokyo boasts nowadays, however, might have been a little off when it came to hovering police cars…

It was a little hard for me to be able to watch the film in entirety, as we were tasked to respond to the film in live time and I found it sometimes meant I missed important parts of the film. To aid this, we watched the watched the English dub version of the two-hour film – controversially as I later found out. Oddly enough, I found I stumbled into the controversy before I was fully aware of its existence. Given that I was meant to be responding to Japanese media and digital culture, I expressed that I almost felt I was cheating by watching the English dub, and that I felt I was already projecting too much of my own culture that tainted how it was originally intended to be consumed;

I was reassured that the task was to interpret the film using the tools from my own cultural framework, and so this blog post was born. I came into this scenario not knowing much about anime or Japanese films at all, apart from my **very extensive** list of animes I had already seen:

    1. Howl’s Moving Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember seeing Howls Moving Castle for the first time after a friend convinced my begrudging ass to watch it with her, and I remember immediately falling in love with the artistically aesthetic aspects of Every. Damn. Frame. There is something so visually stunning that doesn’t compare to any Hollywood film I have seen, animation or not. I am someone who will watch a film for the second time just to take in the details and the costumes come again, so I understand how I was bewildered with the thought that goes into the likes of Akira and Howl’s Moving Castle. They are visual masterpieces of their time and made me love them all the much more for their uniqueness. These are the kinds of films that make me wish I watched more anime and had a greater depth of desire to actively watch several more.

https://giphy.com/embed/ROUXN6hzDgyf6

Of course, as far as these films stray in artistic variation from Hollywood films, I found myself recognising the likes of similar scenes from Western action films. From a personal standpoint, although the narrative was complex and unlike any another story I had heard, I found myself using films like Fast and the Furious, Transformers, and Avengers to make sense of the film. The latter more so in relation to the likeness to Neo-Tokyo streets a swarm of explosions, shattered glass, and upturned vehicles to depict the mass destruction of the cityscape. I wasn’t alone in this. Watching on as friends live-tweeted their experience of the film, I found the best way to fully understand and interpret it was through our own cultural cues and popular references. Modern-day memes and even references to an earlier viewing of Gojira made jest of the cultural gaps that may have segregated many when watching this film.

The film also had a familiarity that I couldn’t pick until I discovered I had seen it before; not just within Vin Diesel blockbusters, but in fashion, art and music. Re: Kanye Wests’ Stronger and Michael Jackson’s entire wardrobe. I also couldn’t help but wonder how much the product placements would have impacted the production of the brand-heavy film, although that is just the marketer in me analysing. Had I seen this film in a less-analytical context, would I have appreciated its depth and significance? Perhaps not.

Final thoughts on Akira leave me feeling protective, although adopted in fine channels throughout Western culture, I enjoyed the film so much I see myself raising an index finger to Hollywood: DON’T TOUCH THIS ONE HERE, IT’S PERFECT AS IT IS

References:

 

GOJIRA *CLAP* DESERVED *CLAP* BETTER *CLAP*

This one is definitely one I never thought I’d be writing. Let me set the scene for you:

I am on the floor of a dingy little motel in Ipswich, Queensland. Why am I on the floor you ask? The charger to my laptop doesn’t reach the supplied workspace and to my surprise, the turtle-paced internet provided by the institution hosts a better connection down here. Welcome to my wild Saturday night in. I was called last minute to head to sunny Queensland with a motorsport team I work for, which is why this blog post comes so profusely late and why it comes from these humble beginnings.

When I thought about studying communications at uni, this was hardly what I had in mind. Yet here we are, detailing my experience of the original Godzilla film. Oh, that’s right, what you’re actually here for; Gojira.

I recently started a subject ‘Digital Asia’, and I am delighted to be analysing my consumption of the original classic as my first task. If you aren’t familiar with the film, check here for what you need to know on the ’54 original.

I have never actually sat down to watch any of the Godzilla films in any way, shape or form, so this was a first for me. Although I have never seen any of the films completely or even partially, for that matter, I had an understanding of the construct of the film and the notion of the storyline. Big, prehistoric-looking monster traumatises cityscape and destroys civilian populations and landmarks.

“I HAVEN’T SEEN ANY GOJIRA OR ANY OF THE FILM ADAPTIONS, HOWEVER, I SOMEHOW HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE TROPE ADAPTED FROM A GENERAL KNOWLEDGE ABOUT GODZILLA FROM POP-CULTURE?” –@CLAUDIALMULLER

Little did I know there were so many more layers to the dinosaur-reptile hybrid that tromped across the skyline. A monster with hidden depths? Tell me more.

I was fascinated to discover that take away the million dollar franchise and the corny special effects, beneath lies a tale detailing an entire populations’ fear of nuclear warfare, and a bleak future outlook for the world. The personification of current social concerns and atrocities in the form of an immense, nuclear beast fascinated me, and I was able to identify it through a marketing looking glass given my specialised knowledge in the area of social marketing. The personification of a negative action or activity is a common technique to help push social cause marketing efforts on the basis of developing particular emotions within the audience. There is a possibility I wouldn’t have been able to identify the effectiveness of this method if I had seen the film earlier in my childhood.

This, of course, wasn’t the first time I had seen a black and white film. Although I did come to the realisation that nearly all had been about caucasian lifestyles and glamorous women, clean-cut men and typically western ideals. I often felt a sense of shame, having not broadened my horizons earlier and ignorantly consuming exactly what Hollywood tells us we should. I doubt this embarrassment is something that the producers aimed at for a western audience. Then again, who could have predicted the concept would branch off into million-dollar remakes across the globe? Was the film ever intended to be seen by any Western eyes?

The final point of interest for me was watching my classmates, and myself, project our own current cultural references, interpreting the ’54 original though a 21st Century framework through our platforms, our memes and often also gifs. Our understanding of a digital asia, I presume, will come through our own learning processes in our online digital environment. Captured perfectly by our tutor Angus Baille:

That’s all for now, until next time.

Claudia

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