The Scent of Blue Memories

Multisensory exploration in animated autoethnography

The animation project, The Scent of Blue Uiseong is my first animated autoethnography about my childhood memories in the Uiseong country where my grandmother lived in South Korea. My project can be understood as a multisensory exploration, and reveals how animation can go beyond an audio-visual medium. The pleasant and unpleasant memories are reconstructed with my imaginations and illustrated by my hand. Finally, my film serves as a letter from my adult self, having made a full recovery from trauma.

I’m a Korean born animator and illustrator living in Auckland, who is passionate about a range of digital design areas including animation, digital painting, visual effects, and motion graphics. I’m particularly interested in portraying nature throughout my work, and The Scent of Blue Uiseong reflects this passion and the personal labour of love that I had worked on for two years of my master’s journey.

I chose to study Digital Design because I have always been fascinated with it and I believe it offers many opportunities to easily interact with people all around the world. I love the fact that digital design allows me to directly impact an audience. For my masters I am making an autoethnographic film based on the story of when I was little. I had a lot of conversations with my dad and discussed memories of my grandmother so that’s what the project is about. My grandmother passed away two years ago and I didn’t really spend much time with her because I live overseas.

When I was little, I had asthma and my grandmother lived in an old house. While the memories I have of her are filled with love, I remember it being really hard to approach her because from a child’s point of view, sensory experiences are intense and dramatic so the smell of mould affected the relationship between me and her. The theme I chose to express these memories is a multisensory exploration that reveals animation as being more than simply audio-visual medium.

 In my personal experience, the smell of mould triggers the memories with my grandmother, and this phenomenon is called synesthesia, or the Proust phenomenon.  I am trying to express my memories based on many phenomenological film theories throughout my animation. The visual and the aural sounds make the experience really vivid and invite the audience to more intensely experience what I experience so that is the focus of the project I am working on now.

The target audience was actually my family and myself. I have always looked at my parents looking to the past and remembered those moments with my grandparents. However, I now believe that a broader audience can view my film which may trigger their own individual memories. The project looks at how scenes that generate nostalgia can be an energy source and add to our current life. The project looks at those memories and how by remembering pleasant memories and emotions of the past, it can be healing. I hope my animation could be healing for the wider audience.

Centre for Design Research
Te Kura Toi a Hoahoa
School of Art and Design

Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau,
Auckland University of Technology


Susan Hedges
Mandy Smith

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© Centre for Design Research, AUT University 2021