Visual Ethnographic Research

This is a collection of visual ethnographic research, from photo and video to collage. I always look for symbolism and intentionally designed details in the manmade environment, especially in historically and culturally rich cities like Seoul. I use my iPhone to spontaneously capture found type, advertisements, and patterns.

ClientResearch & Personal work

Look Down

This is a compilation of pictures of manhole covers and ground plaques from around Korea. The visual elements of the modern and historical branding gathered from these images serve as a visual ethnographic tool. After documenting these symbols and patterns, inquiry into their meaning can be explored with residents and designers in Korea to determine what, if any, meaning these visual elements have to them. I can start to answer questions like how Western influence has impacted city branding in Korea over time.

korea manhole circles and things

May, 2017

Found Type and Patterns

These collages combine images of found type and patterns from around Korea. I collected these from storefronts, advertisements, packaging, and wayfinding signage. By decontextualizing these elements, I can juxtapose the variety of typographic forms and analyze their details and subtleties. Combined, they form a visual record of typography in Korea, from pop culture to convenience store signage. My knowledge of Korean typefaces is limited; so, after gathering found type, I can ask Koreans what meaning individual fonts convey to them.

MOIDA Color Study

MOIDA (모이다) is the coming together of groups from different parts. To generate a color palette, I conducted a visual ethnography of unifying characteristics of the North and South Korean traditional landscapes–from architecture and patterns to clothing and symbols. I used some of my photos from South Korea, and I referenced North Korean imagery from the few Instagram accounts of photographers, such as David Guttenfelder and Jaka Parker, who have had access to take photos in North Korea in recent years. See the project here

Painting the Border

These are excerpts from a depth interview with South Korean painter, Minah. She is an M.F.A. graduate student at the University of Florida. She creates abstract paintings with a subject of the North/South Korean border space. Minah talks about an imaginary space that she cannot enter into, yet the birds and the river can pass freely across the border. She depicts this land and its features through colors and shapes.