Absence in week one has resulted in blog post being written on week two’s movie ‘Sate of Play ‘and my live tweeting experience as directed by tutor.

Although this was not my first live tweeting experience it was definitely out of my comfort zone. I would not consider myself a multitasker and attempting to pay attention to the screen and movie presented all while tweeting and researching. Following the suggestion to pre write or prepare some information about the movie prior to the tutorial I will be doing this before week three, so I am able to pay closer attention to the ongoing film.

‘State of Play’ created in 2013 was an interesting ethnographic film. As someone who is new to the word of Esports and gaming it was interesting to see the perspective of the gamers and I was shocked to hear they are required to play or ‘train’ for 10-12 hours per day. The players were a part of a team, which was an interesting perspective to many regular games that are played solo. The team won and lost together, they had a captain and attended tournaments much like a regular professional sporting team. The South Korean culture seemed so far from what I know in western society and only when the team attended an esports even in Los Angeles did I realise the enormity of the sport. The South Korean family views on gaming was something else that shocked me, following one of my tweets referring to a comment one of the gamers fathers made (“your brain is not very good”) a fellow BCM320 student who is Korean replied stating that this is common, the shaming of one another and from a senior and went on to say that she was not fond of the practice, which is interesting. I also found the documentary similar to those of many western celebrity documentaries, I even came across a tweet which compared it to that of ‘One Direction’.
The entire class live tweeting morale was different to past live tweeting experiences, everyone seemed to be engaging with one another and not just ‘tweeting to themselves’. Through this digital medium, I believe the class engaged more than they would have in a general class setting. Many tweets were mentioning the players health, that of their eyes, mind and sun exposure problems. This would have to be addressed as mentioned above the players are spending an excessive amount of time indoors and are bound to impact their health in the long run, this however was not shown in the documentary besides one player attending the gym. I am looking forward to next week’s live tweeting experience and the film to see how the interaction compares.


Going Out With a (Muk) Bang

Mukbang, Korean for ‘eating broadcast’, first arrived to the internet 10 years ago – and no one could predict the popularity it would garner. The mukbang has been defined as a ‘new and unique phenomenon developed in a specific socio-historical context of Korea’ which ‘breaks the norms of traditional food culture and challenges the social norms governing the body and subjectivity’ (Destefanis, p. 112).


Origami Paper Cranes


When thinking of what to do for this assessment I was stumped. I didn’t know which way I wanted to go in terms of topics and found myself procrastinating heavily through the weeks and putting it off.  It was a few weeks before I had to present this Digital Artefact to a group of people in the tutorial that I had an epiphany that guided me to the topic that I have chosen for my DA. Originally for another class, I’m creating a paper origami crane art piece. This involves making as many cranes as possible in the time frame, tying them to fishing wire then hanging them from the roof from three metal meshes.

In order to tie this subject/idea of origami paper cranes to this subject, I have chosen to do some ethnographic and specifically autoethnographic research. Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing which seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand a cultural experience. In order to “do autoethnography,” I have chosen to investigate the history behind origami and paper cranes while also drawing my experiences with making these cranes for my art project.


The word “origami” comes from the Japanese language where “Ori” means folded and “Kami” is paper. The art of paper folding infiltrated the Japanese culture more strongly than any other. However, the traditional art of paper folding didn’t just exist in Japan alone.

During the 6th CE, paper was introduced into Korea and then into Japan by Buddhist monks. The process of folding origami become an art form as well as a religious ritual for formal ceremonies. It was also practiced in the Japanese imperial court where it was considered amusing and an elegant way to pass the time.

An earlier example of paper folding called “Shide” is a method where the paper is cut into zig-zag shapes. This method of paper folding was used in Shinto purification rituals and are found tied around and in objects, shrines and sacred spaces as an indication that spirits and Gods are present.

When the art of folding paper become recreational as well as ceremonial a book was published in 1797 by Akisato Rito, which documented recreational paper folding called ‘Folding 1,000 paper cranes’. Before this book origami was taught by elders to the younger children but after this book was published the secrets of origami were recorded and allowed for many people to learn how to fold origami.

Akira Yoshizawa is also considered to be one of the instigators or modern origami. He developed a system of folding patterns which used symbols, arrows, and diagrams that were published and became widely available which contributed to its global reach and standardization. As the art of origami became widely available the methods of folding started to develop and mix together into origami that we usually see today. Many of the origami models found in Europe tended to have a grid crease, pattern with squares, rectangles, and diagonals while ceremonial folds from old Japanese methods tended to have judgment folds where the location of the creases was up to personal taste and interpretation of the individual.

855480_orig.jpgPaper cranes are usually the first thing people think of when origami is concerned. The paper cranes carry heavy symbolism and meaning in Japanese, Chinese and Korean cultures. In these cultures, cranes represent good fortune and longevity. In Japanese culture the crane is known as the “bird of happiness”, Chinese culture also believes them to be heavenly and full of wisdom. In these cultures, the wings of the crane were believed to be able to carry souls up to heaven and carry people to higher levels of spiritual enlightenment.

Mainly in Japan, the crane is known to be a mystical creature which is believed to be able to live for thousands of years. As a result, these animals are held in the highest regard and has become a symbol of hope during challenging times. Because of this, it has become popular to fold 1,000 paper cranes or “senbazuru” in Japanese. The cranes would usually be strung together on strings and given as wedding or baby shower gifts.


The story of Sadako Sasaki was the reason why folding 1,000 paper cranes became so popular. Sadako survived the Hiroshima bombing when she was only 2 years old, as she grew older her injuries grew worse and she notices her glands were becoming swollen and purple spots appearing on her legs. She was later diagnosed with leukemia – a cancer of the bone marrow. While she was deteriorating Sadako made the decision to make 1,000 paper cranes, she made the cranes as a way to let out her pain, suffering, and boredom. Sadako hid her suffering and pain through making paper origami cranes and ended up making 644 cranes out of her 1,000 goal. She ended up passing away before reaching her goal so friends, classmates, and family members came together to finish it for her and she ended up being buried with her cranes and a promise of a wish.



So far I have made around 200 paper cranes and am hoping that I will be able to create another 200 for my art piece. Folding paper cranes have become somewhat therapeutic for me and it’s something that I will continue to do in my free time. I originally used Youtube as a source to understand how to fold the cranes properly because the diagrams available were quite confusing and hard to figure out. When I used Youtube as a source I found that other people who were helping me make them also found it easier to understand which was also helpful. When the art piece is finished and marked I’m planning on keeping it and hanging it somewhere in my room somehow. I think that the story and history behind the origami art form is a beautiful one that I think will definitely stick with me beyond the university assessments I have completed about it.



Into the Inferno: Not your average Volcano Documentary

There I was, scrolling through Netflix looking for something to watch while I was cooking dinner on an average Wednesday night, when I came across the latest Werner Herzog documentary: Into the Inferno. I’d seen a few of his documentaries previously and was excited to see volcanoes Herzog style, geology lectures generally don’t play dramatic classical symphonies over slow motion footage of volcanic lava.

So I nestle in ready 2 hours of glorious narration by Herzog, following British volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer to locations all over the world studying volcanoes.

1:09:84 21767154_10156325299952908_1612912208_o

(Source: Netflix, Into the Inferno, 1:09:84)

When I first saw this locality title I didn’t think much of it, honestly I just saw ‘Korea” and kept watching as I had been. It wasn’t until wasn’t until Herzog mentioned it that I noticed, and immediately had 100’s of questions running though my head. No build up,  explanation or acknowledging the strangeness of the situation that he had presented to his audience.

Soldiers began to emerge from the foggy ominous background, marching in unison with the only sound their footfalls. I actually began to fear for the film crew, I didn’t know why they were there, how they got there and under what conditions they did get there. As the group approaches the camera they stop just before, turn to face Mt Paektu and begin cheering, turns out they are university students. Feeling slightly confused and a little ridiculous I continue to watch the students sing praise and cheer to the mountain.

I honestly don’t know much about North Korea, just that it is an almost impervious country which is politically and economically self reliant. I’ve seem news headlines warning of the danger that it poses especially with the recent leaps in nuclear weapons, but here were a bunch of 20 something year old’s cheering and singing with incredible  passion at a bloody mountain. It stuck me that I could never imagine a similar scene  occurring in Australia, or most countries come to think of it.

Hertzog finally explains that North Korea agreed to a joint scientific program with the University of Cambridge and North Korean Volcanologists, and they were invited to film. He mentions that everything they saw was an act of presentation, as there is no other way to see this country than how it wants to be seen. This is evident even in the scene I had just watched, the regimented students marching up to the camera and cheering as if they could not even see the film crew, everything was an act.

The documentary seems to get side tracked, focusing on the rare opportunity and insight into North Korean culture they have been provided instead of the study of volcanoes. Herzog shows footage of television propaganda which depict a country united, completely in unison and admiration of the leadership. It appears as an amazing unison of people, no individuals, just the nation as a whole and their art and performance reflect this.


(Source: Netflix, Into the Inferno)

Small tremors detected by seismic instruments around Mt Paektu has sparked scientific interest. The university of Cambridge has been building a relationship with North Korean scientist for years and have finally been given the opportunity meet them. When they first meet the scientists millions of questions run through my head:

  • If the mountain is so symbolic, how much are the North Korean volcanologists allowed to study it?
  • When studying geology in North Korea, how much research do they have access to from the outside world?
  • How do the universities in general work? is everything censored or skewed to fit the ideology of the party?
  • How do scientists collaborate and learn up to date findings without attending scientific conferences or access to research?
  • How do they contribute their own findings to global scientific community?

This opened up a whole can of worms as you can see, science without collaboration or community is slow and often unreliable due to lack of scope. I became so in awe of how this man became a volcanologist, is there even more than one volcano to study in North Korea? Maybe I was just being naive about the reality of the global stance of the county but I was still quite invested.

The scientist was using a translator to talk to the crew, however it still sounded very scripted, rigid and official, not just being translated but also censored. Everything he says is interlaced with propaganda of the leadership ideology. The founder of the Korean state appropriated the myth of Mt Paektu, and established his secret head quarters right at the foot of the mountain. Their ‘assigned’ Historian explains the war monuments, telling a story of the soldiers in a campground, so moved by setting foot on their home ground they could not sleep.  All of the Monuments are about the people, not glorified individuals but the unity of their nation. Strange to think that their government is almost quasi religion, not just an influencing, government figures are worshiped like higher beings.

Herzog concludes that off stage there is an underlying emptiness, their lack of connection to the outside world makes it a eerie place. He mentions the strangeness of walking through a subway and seeing people not glued to their cellphones. No advertising, just propaganda. No news stands, only the official party newspaper on display. Everywhere are pictures of the leaders, always in the vicinity of the volcano.

Its safe to say that I was no longer in the kitchen making dinner but rather plonked on the couch with so many questions. I realized that North Korea is not only a different cultural experience in my eyes, but for every single other country, there is nothing quite like this one.















Gaming, Culture, and Korea- Looking Back at State of Play

Jesse Max Muir

A couple weeks back I had posted my own introduction to the concept of Autoethnography, as well as my personal interpretations towards South Korean Gaming documentary State of Play. Despite further research and investigation to the concept my understanding Autoethnography has remained relatively unchanged in following Ellis, Adams and Bochner definition as

“an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience” as well as subscribing to the belief that Autoethnography is essentially the combination of ethnography (the study of cultures)  with autobiography (an individual’s self-articulated accounts). In light of this, my post State of Mind centered on this concept, as well as my own personal epiphanies towards State of Play, the full extent of which can be seen:

Here: https://jessemaxblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/state-of-mind-an-autoethographic-response-to-korean-gaming-documentary-state-of-play/

And here: https://storify.com/jessemaxmuir/state-of-play-a-reaction

Now although my interpretation to the concept has not changed, after conducting additional external research…

View original post 741 more words

‘We don’t play games for fun, we mostly play for work’

Starting DIGC330, I didn’t know what to expect, but the first few weeks of it have definitely met and well exceeded my expectations. Our topic, autoethnography was something unfamiliar and unheard of but after looking into it, it helps put a name to the method that allows us to understand cultural experiences. According to Ellis, it is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. (Ellis, 2004; Holman Jones, 2005).

From this reading, I understand that it is qualitative research in which one gathers through personal experiences from being a part of a particular culture then assessing it and allowing further cultural and social meaning and understanding.

This week’s text, ‘State of Play (2013)’ was a particular interest due to my own in depth knowledge about South Korea and it’s culture (and because I just came back from a holiday in Seoul). While watching this documentary, I managed to connect what I knew about the culture to what was being demonstrated. Thus, some things that came as a culture shock to others; was something I had expected and already understood about the principles of Korean life. However, the idea of e-sports and its popularity was still a new concept.

A few observations picked up throughout the documentary:

  • South Korea is considered the home to E-sports and is accepted and viewed like regular physical sporting events with a stadium, wide screen TVs and cheering audiences. From my knowledge, cable TV in Korea also has its own station dedicated to E-sports that has people playing games and tournaments 24/7.
  • Players, such as Lee Jae Dong are treated the same as celebrities and have a fan culture. The fans in Korea are known to be very dedicated and protective towards idols and actors. Thus, the screaming fan girls weren’t a particular shock, but the fact that pro gamers did have a broad fan audience was unheard of.
  • They have a team house in which pro gamers are scouted, leaving home at a young age and trained, living together in a dormitory. – I noticed this was very similar to the way Korean K-pop idols were scouted and trained for years by entertainment agencies until they debut. This way of constant, consistent training must be quite understanding in Korean culture and seen as highly beneficial.
  • There is no fear or taboo about kids playing games and wasting time compared to western culture; but seen as dedication and benefit- much like sporting events.
  • Teams are sponsored by huge companies in Korea such as SK Telecom and CJ E&M Company; large well known corporations.
  • Jae Dong has a ‘game face’ in which he hides his emotions- due to his beliefs growing up of how a man should act. The masculinity and gender through e-sports is also demonstrated due to the lack of female involvement. These expectations of a male can be somewhat related to western culture.


What does East Asian cinema actually mean? This is a question I have been contemplating for some weeks. According to C. J.W.-L. Wee (2012), it wasn’t until the 1980s that the world started to see the emergence of a collective ‘East Asian’ film industry (p197). During this period ‘New East Asia’ as it was known, stipulated a capitalist-driven, modern cultural image showcasing urban settings through cinema. As I was reading this article, I immediately backtracked to all the Asian crime films I had seen and experienced over the course of this investigation. Every single one was set in either a city or a suburb – entirely urban environments. Perhaps this is indicative of the ‘contemporary’ image that East Asian cinema is trying to promote? And that the crime genre is no exception to this form of branding.


east asia

Geographical area of East Asia


It isn’t all sunshine and lollypops. The East Asian film industry is a ‘fractured collective’. It is a loose network of sorts divided at times by a long history of geo-political-cultural tensions. One film which I stumbled across called ‘Full Time Killer’ (2001) seems to embody this phenomenon. In the opening scenes of the film we are introduced to Chin who works in a video store in Hong Kong (remember those). We hear Chin’s inner monologue and how she wrestles with her Asian identity:

“My name is Chin. I’m from Taiwan. I know Japanese. I work at a Japanese video store in Hong Kong. The customers can never figure out where I’m really from…But does it matter?”


It is clear that Chin has difficulty in anchoring herself to a particular Asian nationality. Is she Taiwan because she was born there? Or is she Hong Kong given she is an expat? As I am hearing Chin’s story, I was empathetic toward her confusion. This feeling is linked to my own experiences of attachment to a particular place or lack thereof.  A significant part of my life involved living in three different states – Perth, Queensland and NSW. In a sense I have an attachment to all three places, whilst being known as a ‘New South Welshman’. Territorial boundaries define our racial and cultural identity. When faced with attachment to more than one physical place, how we identify ourselves is even more complicated, as with Chin. I would not have been able to connect with the character of Chin had it not been for autoethnography as a method of research as it “can uncover many different feelings within the writer. It can be joyful, sad, revealing, exciting, and occasionally painful” (Custer, D 2014, p1). Given that Full Time Killer was filmed in Macau, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan it is an attempt to create a cinematic product which transcends the borders between East Asian nationalities. How does one country retain its unique cultural identity, whilst being part of a broader, regional creative industry?


Moses Sye 2009

The broader theme of Full Timer Killer is the ‘good’ hit man versus the really, really bad hit man. It is their nationalities that are quite important. The good hit man named ‘O’ is Japanese, while his enemy Lok Tok-Wah is Chinese. Is this reflecting on the prickly relationship between Japan/East Asia and China? I could be reading too much into this. However, the entire plot development is built around the Chinese hit man versus the Japanese hit man as they battle it out to be the number one assassin. The nature of the plot coupled with the multiple filming locations reinforces this theory.

Custer, D 2014, ‘Autoethnography as a Transformative Research Method’, the Qualitative Report, volume 19, p1-13.

To, J 2001, Full Time Killer, motion picture, Team Work Motion Pictures Ltd.

Wee, C.J.W.L. 2012, ‘Imaging the fractured East Asian modern: commonality and difference in mass-cultural production’, Criticism, volume 54, issue 2, pp197-225.

Girls Generation: The Beginnings of my K-Pop Journey

Autoethnography is a process of connecting personal autobiographical experiences to social, cultural and political contexts for the purposes of storytelling and communication (Ellis & Bochner, cited in Alsop 2002). A key autoethnographic prompt put forward by Sheridan (n.d.) is to ask “how can I describe this situation so that others would fully understand what happened?” I think an important step to take in answering this question is to reflect on how I ended up becoming interested in Korean pop music specifically and how my initially shallow experiences with Kpop have developed into a slightly deeper appreciation of Kpop and Jpop, and an attempt to place these genres within broader cultural and industrial contexts. It all started in early 2012 when my younger brother showed me the film clip to “Gee” by Girls Generation.

It’s fair to say that Gee far exceeded my initial expectations and I was immediately drawn into the song with its bright colours, cheerful tone, adorable choreography, and relentlessly catchy vocal chants of “gee, gee, gee, gee, baby, baby, baby.” After a few days of repeat listens and trying to sing along with a language I completely don’t understand, I decided to explore further into the group via the related YouTube videos for the film clip, where I came across the far less bubbly, far more sexually mature R&B-styled song “Run Devil Run”.

Because I enjoyed this song as well, I decided to share the above video with my brother on Facebook. It was here that a mutual friend (and killjoy) pointed out that this was actually a song that was bought off American songwriters and that it had even been recorded as a demo by Ke$ha, in an attempt to stifle our enjoyment. I checked the facts and it appeared he was right, it was written by American’s and recorded by Ke$sha (Pini 2011). It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the song, but it did get me thinking about how much American influence exists in the Korean pop industry, and even how much of Korean pop can be thought of as inherently Korean. Up to that point I knew nothing and had assumed that because I was watching Korean women singing in Korean that this meant I was getting an entirely “in house” Korean produced song made for Korean audiences. But this assumption proved to be naïve and overly simplistic. Run Devil Run utilizes a schaffel beat that is popular in German techno and has been used by popular English electronic band Depeche Mode in songs like “Personal Jesus” (Martin 2011). Girls Generation are also highly successful in Japan, where they regularly make appearances as guests on Japanese variety shows (Martin 2011). The appeal to global audiences becomes particularly noticeable when the same song is re-recorded and repackaged in different countries using different languages, with Girls Generation songs being released in Korean, Japanese, and even English (allkpop 2011) .


Allkpop 2011, ‘SNSD to release repackaged Japanese edition of “The Boys”’, allkpop, 6 December, viewed 24 September 2014 http://www.allkpop.com/article/2011/12/snsd-to-release-repackaged-japanese-edition-of-the-boys

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

Martin, I 2011, ‘Every day we’re schaffeling: What Girls Generation are doing right’, The Japan Times, 30 June, viewed 24 September 2014 http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2011/06/30/culture/every-day-were-schaffeling-what-girls-generation-are-doing-right/#.VCK3IBbiNpy

Pini, G 2011, ‘Girls’ Generation’s “Run Devil Run” Is Our Music Video of the Day’, Paper Mag, 11 January, viewed 24 September 2014 http://www.papermag.com/2011/01/girls_generations_run_devil_ru.php

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


Over the past week, I have been reflecting upon my topic and how I am going to present this in a digital artefact. After much consideration, I have decided to compare my experiences of crime movies that have been produced by East Asian countries or cities. Given my interest in South Korea, I will focus on this as a site of production, as well as China, Japan, Hong Kong and Macau as an attractive locale for filming. I have observed over the course of my study into this genre (which I have not blogged about as yet) that while there are similarities in regard to cinematic quality, there is a prominent but underlying tension between these sites of production which often go unnoticed. These movies commentate on their country’s difficult geo-political-cultural relationship with China and their struggles to carve out their own individual identities.




So the next obvious question will be how I am going to present my findings from the autoethnographic study? One of my strengths is writing. Now I know what you are going to say; ‘perfect write an essay’. Since I have been given the opportunity to produce a more creative-based project, I have decided on a happy medium between writing and a digital platform – Storify.  Two separate Storify pieces will provide a detailed examination of two broad results from the autoethnographic study; one the complicated definitional boundaries of the ‘crime’ genre and two; the tensions between East Asian countries/cities/states. Storify is a flexible medium because it allows the user to integrate videos, images, Twitter feeds and Facebook posts within a body of text. Hence, it will provide an effective balance of exploring academic concepts through more informal language and engaging media.



Hong Kong Skyline 2009



But what is auto-ethnography and how does it tie in with my research? Autoethnography is a research method where “the author is both informant and investigator… the autoethnography is not simple personal narrative” (Cunningham, J.S. 2005, p-2), but rather connecting personal experiences with wider cultural implications. This method has allowed me to connect my own experiences of watching these movies with academic literature in order to better understand East Asian cinema. For example; as raised previously I have discovered that many of these films have an underlying resentment toward China. I would not have been able to discover this if not for autoethnography, if not for directly experiencing it. I was then able to connect this ‘experience’ with an industry report which seems to mirror this observation; “government shake-ups and new policies – such as the Chief Executive elections and the recent National Education curriculum, which is designed to encourage understanding and patriotism for China – are fiercely opposed when perceived as moves by the Chinese Communist Party to assert their influence on Hong Kong” (Ma, K 2012, p3).

So now I continue on my quest to better understanding Asian crime cinema through the use of autoethnography.




Cunningham, J.S. & Jones, M 2005, ‘Autoethnography: A tool for practice and education’, CHINZ ’05 Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCHI New Zealand chapter’s international conference on Computer-human interaction: making CHI natural conference proceeding, New York, July, viewed 10 September 2014, http://goo.gl/AOhB75

Ma, K 2012, ‘The Asian screen: the state of China and Hong Kong’s film industry and the emergence of Transmedia’, Hexagon Concepts, October, viewed 10 September 2014, http://www.scribd.com/doc/109335662/The-Asian-Screen-1-Hong-Kong-China

YouTube Profile

I honestly wasn’t really sure on how to present my topic of YouTube and Diaspora, but have finally settled on doing a WordPress blog (simply a dedicated page on my personal blog) and presenting a new YouTuber each week. In their profile I will give information about them and their channel as well as discussing my experience in watching their videos. 

To make sure the posts are consistent I intend to look at the same criteria for each person/profile

  • Name, age, occupation and the usual introductory bits and pieces
  • What is the channel about (Beauty, music, gaming etc.)
  • Cultural content and Cultural experience perhaps looking at cultural representation
  • Evidence of audience exerpeince

I’m definitely open to more ideas on what I should be looking at in regards to YouTubers. I don’t necessarily want to look at YouTube ‘stars’ but feel it would be good to look at both ends of the spectrum. I also think I would like to look for users IN Asia as well as in other countries to see how and if their experience differs. 

At the end of every post, it would be important to make sure I comment on my personal experience of watching YouTubers I have never watched before as well as watching some old favourites under a new light. 

Here is a link to my personal blog if you would like to follow the experiences I have https://systemcards.wordpress.com/digc330-autoethnograpic/