(Click the photo above, there are more photos of Ajumma-Selca and information about this project (but in Korean))
I found Korean artist Incheong Lee’s Ajumma-Selca by chance this morning. There aren’t enough references or related articles about her ‘Ajumma-Selca’ but I realised that how her artwork and Digital Ppal-let-ter (and Smart Ajumma research) are similar with each other in some ways. Of course these two different project are about Ajummas but they’re not only talking about a profound discourse of Ajummas. Rather I (and maybe she as well) tried to express the daily life of ajummas pleasantly. (I know there was, is and will be a controversy over talking about ajummas, using the title of ajummas, and etc.)
Anyway, Lee’s Ajumma-Selca is about a tiring and tedious (or sometimes enjoyable as well) daily life of ajummas. She put the wooden-ajumma doll in the situated frame (e.g. kitchen) of photos to reflect her (or other ajummas) lives. Thus, the each photo is a sort of ‘ajumma-selca’ that shows ajumma-selves through a wooden ajumma doll.
For my PhD thesis, I had to write a dissertation (thesis) and make a create project. This creative project is generally called as a project-led research but my PhD project is different. I rather call my creative project as ‘research-led project’. Digital Ppal-let-ter project (Creative project) is mostly based on academic research then I put my imagination to create this Digital Ppal-let-ter project. Without advanced academic research about ajummas and their use of smartphones in everyday practices, Digital Ppal-let-ter couldn’t be created at all.
To create this project, I tried to use many different ways of ‘making’ an art work. I’m not an artist and my background is fully media studies. I had various experiences of working in the media industry and I worked as a script writer, producer, video editor, etc. I know how to use tools for making a film but I don’t want to make an actual film for this project. I rather try to experiment using non-professional filmmaking tools for this project. I always admire people who propose a new method so I tried to find a new method for this project. Through this blog, I will explain how I made this video with my own ways of using tools and softwares.
Firstly, I used still photos for Digital Ppal-let-ter project. The photos for the Digital Ppal-let-ter project were all taken on a iPhone 5 over a period of 2 years from 2014 to 2015. The majority of photos were taken in Seoul, South Korea. The subjects of the photos are mostly middle-aged women, ajummas, in Seoul. The photos were taken randomly in Seoul during the field research in 2014 and 2015. The reason why an iPhone was used as a camera for this project is because it has many advantages such as portability, convenience and instantaneous viewing. Using an iPhone camera for making this creative project has reminded me of the diverse theories about digital communication technology, especially the use of mobile communication devices (e.g. smartphones).
An iPhone allowed me to take photos whenever I found suitable subjects.I became a ‘phoneur’ (2006, Luke) as I took photos while observing people and the city in Seoul and it became a natural part of daily life during my stay in Seoul for the field research in 2014 and 2015.
The subjects of the photos that were used in the video were not asked for permission, however their faces were covered by a hand-drawn sticker of a smiley face to protect each subject’s privacy.
Most photos of ajummas that were used in the video are not taken from the front and some of them are blurry. Consequently, the subjects in the photos that were used in the video are not recognisable. In addition, the video in the Digital Ppal-let-ter project is not made for commercial use, rather it is produced entirely for a creative project which is a part of the PhD research project. For this reason, the privacy issues of photos that were used in the video should not be a problem at all.