The Scent of Blue Memories: Multisensory Exploration in Animated Autoethnography
My Masters project focused on the aesthetic relationship between a film and its audience as a means for creating a multisensory animated film, The Scent of Blue Uiseong (2020), that reflected my childhood memories.
The Scent of Blue Uiseong reflected my personal story and depicted my experience of having asthma as a child due to the smell of mould, and of my grandmother, who lived in an old house in Uiseong, one of South Korea’s rural areas. Although it is a memory of the past that is accompanied by countless complex emotions, a sense of nostalgia remains intense when I smell mould in an old house. My animated film served as a letter from my adult self, having made a full recovery from asthma to my grandmother, from whom I always tended to maintain my distance. Even though different background stories reside within each audience member, it is the aesthetic emotions rooted in the film that create emotional resonance. The story in the film acted as a tool that triggers relatable and therapeutic feelings for the audience, as well as for myself as an autoethnographer.
The purpose of this production was to demonstrate how visual and auditory elements in the autoethnographic film can trigger other sensory modalities that an audience can use to explore the world of the film imaginatively. It should be noted that my animation can be viewed as being somewhat dramatic and intense, based on both negative and positive emotions that were perceived when the memory was initially evoked. My animation referred to psychological and phenomenological theories introduced by Richard Cytowic, Marcel Proust, Jennifer Barker and Laura Marks. The multisensory exploration in The Scent of Blue Uiseong revealed the fact that the audience can perceive the film’s world using multiple senses because the audio-visual elements can trigger a range of sense modalities based on their individual experiences.
In the process of creating The Scent of Blue Uiseong, which reflected my embodied knowledge, Hayao Miyazaki strongly influenced me; this is evidenced by the fact that certain threads within his animated film, My Neighbour Totoro, paralleled my animation. Narrative, visual, and auditory strategies were employed, such as scriptwriting, 2D animation, 3D visual effects, matte painting, narrative voiceover, and autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) to construct a unique and imaginative world within The Scent of Blue Uiseong. In this way, my own less-literal and subtle animation style was designed through the creation of symbolic and metaphorical audio-visual elements.
I suggest that The Scent of Blue Uiseong accompanies genuine emotions based on real memories, reconstructed by my imagination. My project allowed me to deepen not only my theoretical knowledge but also to discover personally precious epiphanies that reflect my grandmother’s love.