I love learning new things so having the ability to explore Japanese, Chinese and Korean culture through the use of autoethnography has been awesome. As someone who has dabbled in Japanese culture through high school, I did start off this journey knowing a thing or two about the culture through books and materials the school gave to us. I’m not necessarily saying I know everything about the culture because in reality I only know a very small aspect of something so big, but what I do know has definitely opened my eyes.
Autoethnography is something that has taken me some time to get used to, but looking at it from a new perspective and especially using it during the time of discovering new aspects of Digital Asia’s cultures I have discovered that I was able to sort through my thoughts and ideas in a narrative autoethnographic form. By doing this my narratives would place emphasis on what I was thinking/feeling and remembering while engaging in these topics.
For my Digital Artefact, I followed an epiphany that I had during the week and chose to look further into the art of origami and specifically paper cranes. In order to make my research into an autoethnographic experience, I chose to investigate the history behind the folding of origami and paper cranes while also drawing on my own experiences with making these cranes for my art project.
Origami is the art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures which originated in Japan. The crane is considered a mystical animal that is believed to live for thousands of years and because of this, they have become a symbol of good luck and long life. Origami was considered a ceremonial and religious art form since the symbol of the crane is lucky and sacred. A sense of wonder about the paper cranes sparked my curiosity which leads to the art of origami.
When approaching this subject to find out the history of the practice I chose to try and look at it in an autoethnographic way. Autoethnography is known as a genre of writing which displays multiple levels of consciousness, which connects the personal to the culture (Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. 2011). When looking at this practice I wanted to place emphasis on the study of the practice and my research and interaction with the practice.
When approaching the research side of the project I wanted to find out as much as I could about the evolution and history of origami. To do this I found a lot of websites that gave me information on the folding methods and also interesting points about its history. I found that there weren’t many academic articles about the topic so I chose to use those instead.
Coming into the research aspect of the project I found that I knew very little of the history of origami and origins of paper cranes. I found that most if not all of the information was new to me and in the long run I found out a whole lot more of a culture that I found intriguing. The research as a whole did give me a lot more information, understanding, and insight into the culture and in hindsight, by researching the topic more I did end up understanding the practice a whole lot more which changed my outlook on the project. It started as something that I was doing because it was pretty and fascinating to something I was doing because I loved the history and story behind it and wanted to delve into the culture.
The criteria for the art piece is to create a device of wonder that spurs imagination, examination, investigation, and speculation that is caused by something beautiful, remarkable or unfamiliar. Devices of wonder invite the audience to engage in the work and ultimately become a part of it. The idea of curiosity is sparked between an individual’s and the work encourages investigation which is where the idea of someone becoming a part of the work is explored.
The prototype of the art piece was successful when it was put together and everything turned out how I wanted it. There were, however, setbacks though with the process of actually putting it up and hanging it from the roof. The reality was that my prototype was only a small indication of how it would look and I did need to change the way that the cranes were hanging from the mesh to get the impact that I wanted from the audience.
I thought that folding all these paper cranes would end up turning in to a chore and I would despise paper after, however, I think that the process of folding paper cranes has become quite therapeutic for me to do after having a stressful day or just needing some time alone. Through experiencing this I have an understanding why this practice was originally an art form for formal ceremonies as well as an elegant way to pass the time.