Another new project for Ajummas


I tried to make Ajumma dolls before I made a Digital Ppal-let-ter video. Now, I’m thinking to do something very exciting and fun project for Ajummas. I can’t say the clear idea for this new project yet but one thing I can say for now is that this project will be enjoyable for everyone (not too serious or academic project). Through this blog, I will keep posting articles about ajummas (from academic research to miscellaneous stories) and at the same time I will upload the new project for ajummas as well.

Ajumma, how much is it?

Today, I went out with my parents to have lunch together. We had Chinese food in Myeong-dong and headed to Dongdaemun area to visit Gwangjang Market. Gwangjang Market is famous with variety of street foods and other stuff such as Hanbok (Korean traditional dress). And this market is also well known to travellers who visit Korea.

We also love visiting Gwangjang Market just for browsing. When we visited to this market today, my mum wanted to buy a blanket for spring. Yes, they sell blankets in reasonable price but the quality is very good. Anyway, when my mum went into one shop to browse blankets, me and my dad were waiting for her outside because the shop was very tiny to fit ourselves into.

At that time, five foreigners were looking at pillows and blankets of that shop. They’ve asked price for those items to the shop owner.

“Ajumma! How much is it?”

I smiled when I heard that word, Ajumma! Then, the ajumma came out of the shop and told them (almost yelled) the price in Korean. They couldn’t understand and the ajumma tried to explain the price with her fingers. So I just translated the price from Korean to English. Both the ajumma and those travellers became happy because the ajumma could sell the blanket and they could buy the blanket.

The point what I want to tell you is how the word Ajumma is getting familiar with people even though they are foreigners! Ajumma is our culture and this word presents the familirity and warmness of middle-aged Korean women I think and I saw. I went to one of the conference in Korean last week and I got attacked from some of audiences about using the word Ajumma. They mentioned that using the word of ajumma could be lead disdaining the Korean middle-aged women. (I will write more about this issue for next blog post, there are so many things that I really want to write about).

Anyway, ajummas are our culture I no longer thinking the word ajummas are the one that disdains the middle-aged women in Korea.

Digital Ppal-let-ter is now on YouTube as well!

Now you can watch this Digital Ppal-let-ter video on YouTube as well.

I just uploaded.Please enjoy watching Digital Ppal-let-ter!

디지털 빨래터 비디오를 이제 유툽에서도 볼 수 있습니다!

많이 봐주시고 더 많이 즐겨주세요!

Inspiration for Digital Ppal-let-ter Project

Digital Ppal-let-ter is a new digital space which illustrates the interactively remediated space and time of both the wash place before the 1960s and Kakao Talk’s group chat room in the 21st century. Digital Ppal-let-ter will encourage audiences to consider the existence of  middle-aged and married women’s communal space that has formed and has been developed by those women from the non-digital (pre-smartphone) era before the 1960s to the digital (smartphone) era in 2015.

Digital Ppal-let-ter will take both analogue and digital technology to present a new digital space where ajummas communicate with each other. It is an imaginary space located in a time of coexistence between the face-to-face communication era and the mobile digital communication era. In other words, Digital Ppal-let-ter is located in an in-between space and time of actuality and digitality. For this reason, the creative project of Digital Ppal-let-ter is a converged metaphorical space of communication that transcends time and space among middle-aged and married women in Korea.


I tried to do an installation art but I’ve changed to produce a video instead.


Digital Ppal-let-ter is an imaginary space that does not exist in the real world. However, it asks audiences to think about how communication amongst middle-aged and married women in Korea has always existed even though various communication tools and the locations of communal spaces have changed over time. Digital Ppal-let-ter aims to emphasise that specific features of communication have developed subliminally through continuous interactive communicating among middle-aged and married women in Korea.

Middle-aged and married women used to be considered a peripheral group by the digital technology industry in Korea whereas younger female groups were given attention. However, it is time to look intensively at how these middle-aged and married women, ajummas, communicate with each other in the pre-digital communication era before the 1960s to the digital communication era of today. In general, ajummas used to be considered a group of ordinary middle-aged and married women but they are not ordinary when people look at them with affection. The group ajummas now attract respectful attention from the digital technology industry and Korean society. The creative project Digital Ppal-let-ter presents how the ordinary but not ordinary ajummas build their own communal spaces and have their own ways of communicating which have developed in line with technological developments in communication

Digital Ppal-let-ter is based on Korean sentiment but the convergence of digital and analogue technology in the project is universally relatable. To create this complicated but poetic and new experimental media art project that includes interdisciplinary academic research and mixed media art forms.

Digital Ppal-let-ter (VIDEO)

Digital Ppal-let-ter is a new digital space where the wash place before the 1960s and a Kakao Talk group chat room in 2015 coexist together. As an imaginary space that has been planned and created based on interdisciplinary research and creative concept of thinking, I have carefully considered how to present the concept of Digital Ppal-let-ter to audiences. Initially I planned for Digital Ppal-let-ter to be exhibited in a gallery or other space in the form of an installation. However, the plan changed to using video due to the difficulty of installing a reproduction of a wash place and the Kakao Talk group chat room. Through the video, the audience can experience the wash place prior to the 1960s with village women and a Kakao Talk group chat room in 2015 with Smart Ajummas at the same time.

The project will also encourage audiences to reconsider the communal spaces, the ways of communication and the communities of middle-aged married women, ajummas, in Korea from the past to the present. Furthermore, it can be expected that this opportunity will increase interest in ajummas and their ways of communication among audiences and the general public. Hence, both the creative project, Digital Ppal-let-ter, and the research project, Smart Ajumma, will awaken thoughts and value about the existence of ajummas and their unique way of communicating that has gone unnoticed.

Digital Ppal-let-ter (Wash place) from Jung Moon on Vimeo.

디지털빨래터 프로젝트 (1)

지난 3년간의 PhD 연구를 통해 나는 논문과 크리에이티브 프로젝트를 완성해야 했다. 사실 대부분의 다른 학생들은 프로젝트가 기반이 된 연구, 즉 프로젝트나 아트웍을 통해 논문을 작성하는데 나의 경우는 전혀 반대로 진행했다. 나는 철저하게 미디어 배경을 가진 경우라서, (석사에서도 그리고 honours에서도 논문을 통해 크리에이티브 프로젝트를 만들었기 때문에) 학문연구를 먼저 시행하고 나서 그렇게 얻게 된 연구결과를 바탕으로 크리에이티브 프로젝트를 진행했다. 디지털 빨래터 프로젝트는 다양한 필드리서치와 문헌연구를 바탕으로 만들어진 프로젝트인 것이다.

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디지털 빨래터에 대한 아이디어를 생각하고 난 후에 나는 이 프로젝트를 과연 어떠한 방법으로 풀어낼 것인가에 대한 고민에 빠졌었다. 사실 처음에는 설치미술로 풀고 싶은 마음이 컸었다. 공간에 대한 이야기를 풀어낼 수 있는 연구였기에 설치미술을 통해 관람객들이 실제로 존재했던 1960년대의 빨래터와 현재의 모바일공간인 디지털빨래터를 몸으로 직접 체험하고 느껴볼 수 있는 기회를 만들고 싶었었다. 그래서 작년 9월까지만 해도 설치미술에 대한 준비를 하던 중이었지만 과감하게 방향을 바꿔서 비디오라는 미디어로 표현하게 되었다. 설치미술을 하기위해서는 내 스스로가 설치미술을 해 본 경험도 없었고 또 자칫 잘못하면 말그대로 ‘허접’해 보일 수 도 있었기 때문에 차라리 내가 배우고 내가 자신있게 할 수 있는 비디오를 만들기로 했던것이다. 그리고 수퍼바이저도 비디오를 적극 추천하기도 했고. 주위의 여러 PhD하는 친구들이 늘 했던 말이 현실이 된 순간이었다.

“연구 방향이 바뀌지 않으면 그건 제대로된 연구가 아니래!”

진행하고 있던 디지털빨래터의 설치미술과 관련된 모든것을 다 잊기로하고 나는 그 날 부터 당장 비디오 제작과 편집에 들어갔다. 찍어놓은 비디오가 없었기 때문에 필드리서치를 하면서 틈틈이 찍어두었던 사진들을 사용하기로 하고 없는 아카이브들에 대해서는 인터넷 소스와 그리고 내가 직접 그려서 만들기로 마음을 먹었었다.

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대부분의 사진들은 필드리서치 기간이었던 2014년부터 2015년의 서울에서 주로 찍은 것들이다. 이 사진들은 모두 아이폰5로 찍었고 사진의 내용은 주로 40대 이상의 아줌마들의 모습, 특히 스마트기기를 사용하는 길거리에서 무작위로 찍은 평범한 우리의 아줌마들의 모습이다. 아이폰으로 사진을 찍었던 이유는 매우 간단하고 명료하다. 예전과 달리 스마트폰에 달려있는 카메라의 화질이 여느 디지털 카메라와 비교했을때 전혀 떨어지지 않고 또한 휴대성으로 인해 언제 어디서나 사진을 찍을 수 있기 때문이다. 즉 사진을 찍기위한 특별한 ‘목적’을 갖고 밖으로 나가는 것이 아니라, 밖에서 다른 일을 하면서 돌아다니다가 필요한 피사체를 발견했을때 자연스럽게 주머니속의 스마트폰을 꺼내어 손쉽게 찍을 수 있다는 매우 큰 장점 때문에 스마트폰을 사용해서 모든 사진을 찍게 되었다. 즉, Luke (2006)가 언급했었던 ‘phoneur’ -‘일상생활 속에서 전화기를 들고 다니다가 만나게되는 사람들 혹은 사물들을 자연스럽게촬영하고 하는 것 등의 일’을 직접 체험할 수 있었던 것이다.
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사실 내가 찍은 사진의 얼굴들은 비디오에서 노출되지 않는다. 일일이 허락을 받은 사진들이 아니기 때문에, 그리고 공공장소에서 찍은 아줌마들의 모습이기 때문에 얼굴 노출에 대해 한 분 한 분에게 모두 허락을 받을 수 있는 상황이 아닌 이유도 있었다. 따라서, 개인 초상권의 보호를 위해서 모든 아줌마 얼굴에는 스마일 스티커를 붙여서 사용했다. 이 스마일 스티커는 ‘초상권 보호’의 목적과 동시에 스마트 아줌마들을 나타낼 수 있는 ‘이모티콘’의 모습을 상징한다. 또한 아줌마들을 개개인으로 보기보다는 그저 하나의 큰 집단 혹은 모든 아줌마는 다 똑같다는 사람들의 아줌마에 대한 시선을 나타내주기도 한다. (아줌마를 모두 다 같은 중년여성으로 보는 사회적 편견을 나타낸 것이기도 하다)

How to create Digital Ppal-let-ter Project (1)

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. Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 12.37.34 PM.png

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.

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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.
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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.