About the Author
A twenty-something Caribbean army from Trinidad who enjoys music, reading, and writing.
A twenty-something Caribbean army from Trinidad who enjoys music, reading, and writing.
This poster aims to begin thinking through the strategies of anonymity, anti-surveillance, and body substitution/”absenting” that emerged from the BTS ARMY (and other K-pop fandoms) during the Black Lives Matter protests of May and June 2020. I want to examine these strategies as techniques of specifically “digital” protest that leverage new media technology against state and police surveillance on a grassroots fandom level. More specifically, I am interested in the turn away from paradigms of individuality, visibility, and clarity of message as a baseline for activism towards strategies of anonymity, invisibility, and spam and/or signal jamming instead. This is just the beginning of a larger project on this topic, but I am most interested in thoughts about the political potential that inheres in non-individualistic–and even non-human– metaphors: the swarm, the hivemind, “bots,” and, of course, the ARMY. Any thoughts and feedback is welcome!
It will be my contention for this poster that the activism on display in K-pop’s various online fan spaces this year invites a consideration of strategies of invisibility, obscurity, and illegibility as modes of digital protest. In this vein, I will briefly examine a few cases from the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 that highlight anonymity, body substitution, and body-absence as techniques for the political work of fans in the BTS ARMY and broader K-pop communities online. These strategies rely not just on redirecting or reorienting our social sight, as a protestor in the street might, but obscuring it entirely, replacing the bodies that are usually available to the social gaze with opaque or misleading ones.
I am currently a PhD student in English at UCLA, and so my background is primarily in literary and cultural studies. I therefore approach this topic from a humanist’s perspective and rely in large part on my training in close-reading texts (and media objects) to make my arguments. I am interested in situating this particular conversation within the overlap/gaps between the fields of digital media, critical race studies, and fan studies.
The first technique to which I want to talk about has been a practice of the BTS and other K-pop fan communities for years: using an image of a K-pop idol as one’s public profile picture on social media. While not necessarily always motivated by a conscious desire for secrecy or anonymity, a majority of profile pictures of accounts in the BTS ARMY Twitter sphere feature an image of a BTS member rather than images of fans themselves. I am interested in this preference for anonymity, however, for the way it lends itself to strategies of anti-surveillance, particularly against mechanisms of state surveillance. Consider, for instance, the role this anonymous logic played in the protest work K-pop fans did in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. On March 30, 2020, the Dallas Police Department asked users to submit “video of illegal activity from the protests” to their iWatchDallas app, an app intended to facilitate a grassroots, citizen-driven arm of police surveillance. Yet, soon after the tweet posted, fans took to mass-inundating both the tweet and the app with videos of K-pop idols instead:
Less than a day later, overwhelmed by a global influx of videos to an app designed for local use, the iWatch app crashed (the Dallas Police Department sent out a tweet to this effect on May 31: “Due to technical difficulties [the] iWatch Dallas app will be down temporarily”). As the screenshot above can attest, fans bombarded the department with clips of K-pop music videos (the one featured in the screenshot, for instance, is from Seventeen’s “Don’t Wanna Cry”), as well as their own self-edited “fancams” of stage performances by various idols. The digital spam of these clips and videos worked, in effect, to protect the protestors in Dallas from police retribution or arrest and disrupted the technology with which the Dallas police sought to target them in the first place. In short, fans took the Dallas Police Department’s reassurance, “You can remain anonymous,” and flipped its logic of the unseen citizen reporter into one that upheld instead the anonymity of both the protestors on the ground and the fans who deliberately interfered with police surveillance by “reporting” falsely. The added layer of non-identifying avatars in most of the fan profiles participating in this anti-surveillance effort protected the K-pop fans in question from immediate or easy retribution. Hence, K-pop fans went a step beyond the oft-spread demand for media and citizen journalists to blur the faces of protestors by replacing the figure of the protestor entirely with that of the idol. This replacement, I argue, operated as an act of body-substitution, wherein the vulnerable body of the political protestor was strategically replaced by the celebrity-body of the Korean idol. The idol, visually overexposed to the point of saturation in their capacity as a global star, possesses a body widely available and already known—and is, as a result, devoid of specific or private information. Its functional uselessness in contexts of state-driven surveillance makes it a paradoxically useful decoy to mask the identity of those who seek to interfere with these surveillance systems.
As a second example, I recall the semi-filled (and thus semi-failed) Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20, 2020. Rather than showcasing a strategy of body-substitution, as the Dallas police app spamming does, the Tulsa rally demonstrates instead one of body-absence. The images circulated by media outlets on the day after the rally displayed, relentlessly, sections of empty blue seats in the venue: The New York Times, for instance, noted that the BOK Center saw a mere 6,200 ticketed attendees on the day of the rally, far below the venue’s maximum capacity of 19,000. While the factors responsible for this attendance go beyond K-pop-fan interference alone, fans played their part in the numbers. Their strategy was one premised on absence: roughly a week before the event, hundreds of K-pop fans (alongside users of the social media app, TikTok, who co-led the initiative) registered en-masse for tickets to Trump’s rally with no plans of actually showing up. While the act of reserving a ticket did not equate to reserving an individual seat (Trump’s rallies largely work on a first-come, first-serve seating system), the high number of false reservations effectively fed false data to the Trump team. The uselessness of the data fed to Trump’s team from the false reservations, combined with the physical absence of bodies at the rally, came together to execute a plan that obstructed the campaign in not only literal ways but algorithmic ones: a darkening, so to speak, of data-sight. Information ceased, in this situation, to represent Trump’s potential voter base in transparent or reliable ways. What’s more, the absence of bodies refused even the most basic demographic information that could have been gleaned or acquired in person. Hence, in the act of appropriating the algorithm to their own ends, fans effectively re-coded it to fail the white hegemonic interests it normally serves. The “data blackout” achieved in this moment, in fact, recalls the very failure of technology that attends the event of a literal blackout. Only here, the resulting darkness, or darkening, must be understood not as a loss but as a minoritarian opacity: a frustration of the white-technologized gaze.
What, then, are the stakes of the strategies of protest outlined above? I argue that techniques that rely on the obscuring, blurring, or absenting of identifiable bodies and individuals invite a consideration of the political potential that inheres in non-individualistic modes of action. By this I do not mean the democratic idea of “collectivity” that undergirds our existing paradigms of political action, such as petition signing, election voting, donations, and protests. Such modes of collectivity, despite their communal nature, nonetheless rely on the paradigm of the expressive individual. That is, the mass of signatures on a petition, or donations to a cause, or votes for a candidate, or bodies in the street acquires power from the combined force of otherwise-isolated individuals coming together to join their expressive voices toward a common goal. It is a model that relies on clarity: in short, on being seen and being heard. In contrast to this model, the proclivity for anonymity, absence, and opacity in the BTS ARMY and other K-pop fan communities this past year arguably represents a turn away from “individuality” as the foundation for protest. Instead of relying on paradigms of visibility, individuation, and clarity of message, the strategies on display in these digital fan spaces look more like spam or signal-jamming.
The fancam attacks on police surveillance apps work, in other words, not because they advance a legible counter-message on behalf of the protestors, or even of Black Lives Matter, but because they interrupt state surveillance by jamming the technological system it relies on. Similarly, takeovers of white supremacist hashtags on Twitter by K-pop fans do not necessarily offer any clear condemnation or counterargument to white supremacist talking points. Rather, they operate like spam, drowning out the hashtag’s original message in favor of more “useless” videos of dancing idols and fan-edited performances. This opting for noise over signal, for obscurity over clarity, removes the expressive individual—indeed, removes meaningful expressivity itself—from the political work accomplished in these moments. Interestingly, this absence of “message” has also made these techniques the target of criticism as well, with some fans pointing out that fancams do not technically “do” anything—and certainly don’t advance any agenda outside of K-pop’s own digital marketing. Yet, it would appear that the very “uselessness” of these fancams, the political vacancy of their content, emerges as a strategy in its own right. In fact, it is my belief that this failure to express any positive content, and the removal of the individual from political protest more broadly, carries its own political possibilities.
I want to end then on what I hope is a provocative question (or at least an interesting one). What alternatives has our focus on “the individual” in political action blinded us from seeing? After all, the Western humanist and democratic ideal of “the individual” which undergirds our current system of democracy has been a flawed political foundation from the start. You need only look to the marginalized groups who have been historically excluded from its designated category of being—and who fought, over many years, for their inclusion—to see that the individual-as-paradigm is not the most radical or inclusive starting point for political change. Instead, I am interested in alternative metaphors, or models, of non-individualistic organized power: the swarm, the hivemind, “bots,” and—of course—the ARMY.
What do these non-human and the non-individualistic metaphors offer to our political formulations that democratic vocabularies of collective power cannot? Separately, what do we do with the fact that there is slippage between these terms and vocabularies of racist dehumanization? I know I was not the only one, for instance, to see rightwing Twitter levy attacks against the “Chinese bots” posting fancams and infiltrating hashtags. How does something like the robot both offer us a way outside of the Western individual while also re-inscribing its racist and Orientalized language of power?
So! Given all of that I am interested in hearing from you! Any of the below is welcome:
1) any thoughts or feedback! I’d love to hear more about any points I raised, since this is a very new project
2) if you have or know of any sources that you think might be helpful to this discussion! Any books or articles that look at political action and protest
3) even more specifically, I would LOVE to hear about any sources that deal with swarms, hiveminds, insect-organization, robots, bots, spam, or signal-jamming. This can draw from ecocriticism, biology, or new media/internet studies!
4) if you have questions about English/humanities grad school or just want to commiserate and bond over being in grad school haha
~~~hit me up on Discord during my Q&A or DM me at @a_priyd on Twitter!~~~ thank you ARMY <3
Andrea is a 4th year PhD student in English at UCLA. Her research exists at the intersection of new media, race, aesthetics, and digital fandom. She has an article currently in the works on #BlackOutBTS, race, and self-display in the BTS ARMY, which she presented at the BTS Conference earlier this year.
BTS had proven to increase our curiosity about the Bangtan Universe, which was established in 2015, starting from HYYH Pt.1. What if the entire discography of BTS starting from “No More Dream is actually a pathway that consistently suits any kind of story? A pathway to wake up from a dream and realize it?
My name is Muhammad Didit Prasodjo. I am from Indonesia. I am an Apothecary Program Student
Hello! Welcome to my booth about BTS and positive psychology!
My goal is to introduce the field of positive psychology to those who might not already be familiar with it. I will also describe how positive psychology (the science of well-being) offers perspectives and tools which can be incredibly valuable for studying, analyzing, and amplifying the positive effect that BTS has on so many people. I hope that this will spark some conversations with people who are also interested in this topic, perhaps leading to future collaborative projects related to positive psychology for both research and practice.
But first, I’m going to speak myself. I share my story to convey why understanding BTS through positive psychology excites me and makes my heart beat.
It’s one of those “you find BTS when you need them most” kinds of stories. When I discovered BTS (by chance, on Twitter), I was in my second semester of graduate school. I had moved across the country for a program in a city I’d never been to, where I knew no one. My degree program was brand new; there was only one other student. At first it felt exciting, but by early 2018 I was struggling. How had I gotten to that point?
When I started graduate school, I had already been studying positive psychology for seven years. I had long known that I wanted to use the science of well-being to help people in their moments of feeling down, lost, isolated, out of control, or even “just fine”—feelings that don’t necessarily call for clinical therapy, but that keep us from doing as well as we could be. What immediately attracted me to positive psychology was the fact that it was relevant to anyone, no matter who you were, or how successful or “together” you seemed. We can all benefit from things like focusing more on what’s best in us and our most deeply held values; intentionally cultivating our most meaningful and affirming relationships; and working towards our best possible futures.
The problem was, I didn’t know how I wanted to go about creating this positive impact in the world. When I worked as an administrator at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center after college, I saw professional master’s students passionately applying the science of well-being to just about any field you could think of: healthcare, education, business, politics, the arts, clinical psychology, even law. I realized I had no field of my own through which to make change. Yet I was seized, maybe obsessed, by ideas about entertainment technology and leisure. I thought: it’s one thing to convince someone to take a course on positive psychology, or read a self-help book, or go through a corporate training. But what about all the things people like to do in their spare time? Things they were already motivated to give their attention to and engage deeply with? I had to admit to myself that as informed as I was about the research, I still opted for video games over gratitude letters when I was feeling depressed. Wouldn’t it make a huge difference if we could bring the science of well-being to things that are already entertaining?
I eventually found my master’s program about game design for health and wellness. I learned a great deal in graduate school, but in many ways, it wasn’t what I expected. And I definitely didn’t expect to find the lessons I was looking for (ways to positively impact large numbers of people through meaningful entertainment) by fangirling over a Korean band. Whereas seeking those answers in school left me feeling uncertain, depleted, and alone, finding those answers—experiencing it—through BTS filled me with love, joy, and connection. And now, I can hardly imagine taking care of my emotional wellness without BTS.
Positive psychology is the science of well-being. Positive psychology takes a holistic view of mental health based on the observation that the absence of mental illness is not equal to the presence of mental health: that psychological well-being and flourishing is its own construct, separate from but related to mental illness. This perspective mirrors the World Health Organization’s definition of health: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (World Health Organization, n.d.). Positive psychology has roots in earlier traditions that have focused on the whole spectrum of human functioning, such as Maslow’s Humanistic Psychology and Jung’s concept of individuation, and also has foundations in philosophical thought about well-being and virtue, particularly those of Aristotle (ex, Ryff, 2014).
Positive psychology can be thought of as an umbrella term for the study of many different psychological topics that are concerned with well-being, as well as the practice of applying research on those topics with the intention of increasing the well-being of individuals and communities. Constructs like gratitude, self-efficacy (the belief that you can do something; see Maddux & Kleiman, 2020), meaning in life, mindfulness, awe, savoring, resilience, post-traumatic growth, and flow experiences (a state of full absorption in an activity; see Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2020) are all examples of topics that are studied and applied under the umbrella of positive psychology.
The application of research on well-being topics to other fields and contexts typically takes the form of “positive psychology interventions” (PPIs, or simply “interventions”). An intervention could be anything that is designed to influence thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, if it is (1) based on research with (2) the intention to produce a positive outcome for the people or communities who experience the intervention (see Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009). An intervention could be as simple as a journaling prompt or goal-setting app, as involved as a multi-day meditation retreat, or as subtle as encouraging people to spend disposable income on things that benefit others rather than themselves, in light of research on spending and happiness (ex, Dunn, Gilbert, & Wilson, 2011).
There are two main reasons why I think positive psychology is particularly useful for analyzing BTS’ impact.
The first reason is simply that positive psychology is all about well-being. Similarly, BTS represents the idea, or the mission, of “Music and Artist for Healing.” We can think about healing as another way of saying increasing well-being, involving both mitigating or recovering from undesired states as well as cultivating and prolonging desired states. And BTS are effective. I’m far from the first person to point this out! Many ARMY know how impactful BTS are intuitively, through experience. BTS has helped many of us experience better psychological wellness, whether we were going through very difficult times—perhaps trauma, clinical depression, or periods of mourning—or simply the everyday stressors and worries of normal life. They also, often simultaneously, help us build our capacities for joy, personal growth, love for others and ourselves, and purpose and meaning in life. A positive psychology perspective allows us to consider this full range of BTS’ well-being effects in an evidence-based way. In sum, if the goal of increasing well-being is central to BTS’ reason for existence, and we see that they achieve this goal in a variety of ways, the science of well-being is a natural choice for furthering our understanding of the BTS phenomenon.
The second reason positive psychology is useful is because it is a lens, meaning it can be applied to basically anything. This is important because the types of things we engage with as BTS fans—music, live performance, content, social media, etc.—is hugely varied; although music is the most central, our experience of the music is deeply enriched by these other forms of engagement. When we say that BTS is effective at increasing well-being, we are talking about effects that arise from multiple (likely all) of these different engagement sources. Therefore, for a full picture of how BTS influence well-being, it’s not sufficient to only use perspectives from sciences specialized to one of those sources. The lens of positive psychology has already been applied to relevant fields like music studies (ex, Groarke & Hogan, 2016), media and entertainment studies (ex, Reinecke & Oliver, 2017), technology and social media (ex, Calvo & Peters, 2014), and more. By embracing the overarching perspective of positive psychology, we gain access to a diverse toolbox that allows us to examine all the avenues by which BTS increase well-being, and perhaps to amplify that experience as well.
Here are some preliminary ideas about the various ways we can apply the lens of positive psychology to BTS for both research and practical application. These are only a few examples out of a nearly endless list of possibilities! For those who are not already familiar with positive psychology constructs, I intend to offer a greater sense of the breadth and content of the domain of positive psychology here.
Other possible goals for collaboration around the topics of BTS, ARMY, and positive psychology
If any of these topics or suggestions excite you, please reach out to me on Twitter at callme _ _ baepsae! I would love to talk to you!
Sydney Rubin is an experience designer and a consultant on applied positive psychology. She is also a scholar with degrees in psychology and game design who has worked at the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA).
References, Further Reading, and Other Resources
Calvo, R. A. & Peters, D. (2014). Positive computing: Technology for wellbeing and human potential. The MIT Press.
Dunn, E. W., Gilbert, D. T., & Wilson, T. D. (2011). If money doesn’t make you happy, then you probably aren’t spending it right. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21, 115-125.
Gable, S. & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why) is positive psychology? Review of General Psychology, 9, 103-110.
Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Wyss, T. (2013). Strength-based positive interventions: Further evidence for their potential in enhancing well-being and alleviating depression. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 1241-1259.
Grinde, B. & Patil, G. G. (2009). Biophilia: Does visual contact with nature impact on health and well-being? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 6, 2332-2343.
Groarke, J. M. & Hogan, M. J. (2016). Enhancing wellbeing: An emerging model of the adaptive functions of music listening. Psychology of Music, 44, 769-791.
International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). https://www.ippanetwork.org/
Maddux, J. E. & Kleiman, E. (2020). Self-efficacy. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF publishers. Retrieved from http://noba.to/bmv4hd6p
Nakamura, J. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2020). The experience of flow: Theory and research. In C. R. Snyder, S. J. Lopez, L. M. Edwards, & S. C. Marques (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of positive psychology (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.
Niemiec, R. M. & Wedding, D. (2013). Positive psychology at the movies: Using films to build virtues and character strengths (2nd ed.). Hogrefe Publishing.
Park, N. (2018). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. In C. R. Snyder, S. J. Lopez, L. M. Edwards, & S. C. Marques (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of positive psychology (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.
Peters, M. L., Flink, I. K., Boersma, K., & Linton, S. J. (2010). Manipulating optimism: Can imagining a best possible self be used to increase positive future expectancies? The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 204-211.
Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. American Psychological Association / Oxford University Press.
Reinecke, L. & Oliver, M. B. (Eds.). (2017). The Routledge handbook of media use and well-being. Routledge.
Ryff, C. (2014). Psychological well-being revisited: Advances in the science and practice of eudaimonia. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 83, 10-28.
Seligman, M. E. P. (2012). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Atria Books, New York.
Seligman, M. E. P. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. The American Psychologist, 55, 5-14.
Sin, N. L. & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: a practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65, 467-487.
Smith, J. L., Harrison, P. R., Kurtz, J. L., & Bryant, F. B. (2014). Nurturing the capacity to savor: Interventions to enhance the enjoyment of positive experiences. In S. Schueller & A. C. Parks (Eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of positive psychological interventions. Wiley-Blackwell.
Steger, M. F. (2018). Meaning in life: A unified model. In C. R. Snyder, S. J. Lopez, L. M. Edwards, & S. C. Marques (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of positive psychology (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.
World Health Organization (n.d.). Frequently asked questions. https://www.who.int/about/who-we-are/frequently-asked-questions
Since April 29, 2015 the south korean pop group Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS) is launching a series of music videos, short films, webtoon (online korean webcomic) and other materials in multiple platforms, composing the story known as Bangtan Universe (BU) or BTS Universe, which we will take as a transmedia storytelling (MASSAROLO, 2013). This typical editorial object of nowadays is a product of the participatory culture of the fandoms, since they collect, read and interpret the fragments that are spread across multiple platforms, resulting in theories about this “universe” as a whole, which includes pieces that may or may not be published as comments and/or videos on various social medias. Considering these dynamics, we are lead to several issues from the editorial point of view, from which we highlight the main one to be investigated in the research we propose: taking into account both digital and non-digital places that the group explores on building his narrative, and also the question of what we would call co-enunciation of the fans, can we think of this work as one work? How would it become a unity of recognized value? In order to try to answer these questions, we follow the French Discourse Analysis, mostly studies developed by Maingueneau (2006, 2008) about canonic and associate spaces and also the notion of ethical worlds. We also use Debray’s concept of medium (2000a and b) combining them with the elements that compose what Santos (2000) calls the technical-scientific and informational period.
Transcrição do vídeo:
Oi pessoal, tudo bem?
Meu nome é Karen Naomi Aisawa, sou graduanda do curso de bacharelado em Linguística pela Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar) e faço parte do Grupo de Pesquisa Comunica – Inscrições linguísticas na comunicação, pelo qual desenvolvo o projeto de iniciação científica que vou apresentar para vocês agora.
Minha pesquisa intitula-se “Mídium e mundo ético: um estudo das relações entre espaço canônico e espaço associado na criação multiplataforma do BTS Universe”.
Esta pesquisa conta com o auxílio da Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) e as opiniões, hipóteses e conclusões ou recomendações expressas neste material são de inteira responsabilidade minha e não necessariamente refletem a visão da FAPESP.
Então, vamos começar pelo resumo da minha pesquisa:
O grupo de pop sul-coreano Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS) deu início, a partir de 29 de abril de 2015, ao lançamento, nas mais diversas plataformas, sejam elas digitais ou não, de uma série de clipes musicais, curtas, webtoon (quadrinho digital online de origem coreana), entre outros materiais, a fim de compor a história conhecida como Bangtan Universe (BU), ou BTS Universe, como é mais conhecido internacionalmente, aqui tomado como uma narrativa transmídia (MASSAROLO, 2013).
Trata-se, assim, de um objeto editorial típico do atual período, fruto da cultura participativa dos fandoms, uma vez que a eles cabe a coleta, a leitura e a interpretação dos fragmentos da história espalhados pelas diversas plataformas, resultando, por fim, em teorias sobre o universo como um todo, que podem ou não ser publicadas sob a forma de comentários e/ou vídeos nas mais diversas redes sociais.
Tal objeto, olhado desta perspectiva, nos leva a várias questões do ponto de vista editorial, das quais destacamos a principal, a ser investigada durante a pesquisa aqui proposta: considerando todos os espaços digitais e não digitais ocupados pelo grupo para a construção da referida narrativa e a questão do que chamaremos, por ora, de co-enunciação dos fãs, como podemos pensar essa obra como obra? Que dinâmica lhe confere unidade e valor reconhecido?
Para tanto, embasaremo-nos nos fundamentos da Análise do Discurso de linha francesa, em especial, os estudos de Maingueneau (2006, 2008) acerca dos espaços canônico e associado e também a noção de mundos éticos, mobilizando, ainda, o conceito de mídium de Debray (2000a e b), conjugando-os aos elementos que definem o que Santos (2000) denomina período técnico-científico informacional.
Então a gente tem aqui um sumário de como eu vou estar organizando esta apresentação: então primeiramente temos a introdução, onde eu vou apresentar o objeto para vocês, depois os objetivos, a metodologia, os resultados parciais – pois esta ainda é uma pesquisa em andamento – e por últimos as referências bibliográficas para esta apresentação.
Karen Naomi Aisawa é graduanda no curso de bacharelado em Linguística da UFSCar e atualmente desenvolve pesquisa de iniciação científica sobre o BTS Universe com auxílio de bolsa FAPESP, intitulada “Mídium e mundo ético: um estudo das relações entre espaço canônico e espaço associado na criação multiplataforma do BTS Universe”. É integrante do Grupo de Pesquisa Comunica – inscrições linguísticas na comunicação e do B-Armys Acadêmicas.
Words are rendered visible in some BTS music videos. These words include English, Korean, and/or Chinese. I propose to share the thoughts and feelings we get towards these words we see in BTS’s music videos in the light of typography, the art of arranging letters and text that makes words not only legible but also visually appealing to the audience. To be specific, what sort of emotions or specific messages do we get from discovering words in view of typography that involves font style, appearance, and structure?
Based in Oxford, I conduct research on visual culture and make art.
“The impact of supergroup BTS is presently being felt around the globe. Smashing records left and right, BTS has claimed an irrevocable and indelible space in the public consciousness as the face of K-pop and Korean soft power. Just as powerful is their legion of fans, known as ARMY. Unlike most common perceptions of fandoms, ARMY outstrips expectations of participatory culture by actively organizing itself across the globe according to the core message of BTS: love yourself.
It is this extramural, united sense of purpose that makes BTS and ARMY unique. Music groups and the publicity that surrounds them are often steered by the entertainment companies that initiate and drive their popularity. BTS is unique in that the reach of ARMY is unequivocally farther, faster, and fiercer than what BigHit Labels can wield on its own. As a result, ARMY has had just as much of a hand in crafting the image of BTS as the members themselves, if not more, through social media and activism.
This dissertation would explore how fandom and group intertwine to craft the coherent, unified mythos that is BTS and ARMY. The two are inextricable, co-dependent on one another to survive and thrive in a way that few other musical groups — K-pop or otherwise — have ever emulated. The Mikrokosmos (so-titled after a BTS song written directly to ARMY) coalesces as a result of both meticulous effort and ardent devotion to the concept, execution, and interrogation of what it means to be BTS and to be ARMY.”
I am currently in the process of formulating this proposal, selecting my objects of analysis, and deciding on methodology of research. I would appreciate any suggestions regarding source material (particularly as it relates to the smeraldo flower and its various appearances), as well as recommendations as to major contributors to fan theory regarding the BU.
All feedback is helpful! Diving into mythological thinking will be a first for me and I want to position BTS/ARMY appropriately. My academic background is not one founded on interviews or quantitative research, so any help in laying out a methodology for that would also be wonderful.
Dominique Brigham earned her MA in Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam, researching the translation and adaptation of “Pokémon: The First Movie” from Japan to the United States in the 1990s, and has previously presented on the cultural impact of video games. Currently she works as a product marketer for the medtech company Siilo, where she writes on how healthcare professionals utilize communication technology in clinical settings. She is also preparing a PhD proposal on BTS, the ARMY fandom, their (a)political natures, and their joint and disparate impacts on global culture and social media activism.
I’m obsessed with movement. Movement, being one of the most vivid manifestations of a life force, possesses inexplicable beauty and has been fascinating me ever since I went to study traditional animation at college. Due to the natural development of events, I ended up focusing on dance as a representation of movement and I have been exploring my feelings and perception of both dance in general and specific styles, dancers, and performances.
Recently, I’ve been heavily focusing on Jimin as one of the dancers I wanted to portray but I was growing nervous about one problem – I no longer portray just “a dancer” that caught my eye. I do portray Jimin the dancer but due to my becoming his fan, my perception includes my experience with his public persona and all the feelings related to that. And maybe it’d be wasteful not to utilise this situation in a better way than just including him in a long list of performers I wanted to react to. Even before reaching this phase, I would often ask myself: “Is what I see in him as a dancer the same as what others see? How is it different? Why?”
I grew up very curious about the topic of perception and how subjective it is. What is the real truth? What is reality? Maybe the portrayal that is the closest to the true “JM the dancer” is not about one person grasping the movement accurately. Maybe it’s the summary of all our experiences and feelings. And this has become the starting point for my project.
An art project to explore the difference in perception of Jimin as a dancer by one artist creating regularly an artwork to which participants could consequently react freely, in any way they choose.
Lately, I’ve been challenging more and more the concept of universal truth and its presumed trait of objectivity, especially in relation to artwork where subjective perception plays the main role. Instead of focusing on the layers of our perception we share, I’m interested in where we differ. Each of us is a world on its own and that’s something incredible and miraculous. My own approach to artistic creation has been heavily influenced by British author Neil Gaiman, who made me realise that it should be about a dialogue and that the one thing you have that no one else does is yourself. My reacting to Jimin as a dancer is something only I can contribute — and equally, others have their own truth there and it’s also only theirs, something unique to them.
Consequently, I’m even more invested in the emotional part of the whole artistic process and I’m aiming at putting my heart there to a point where the technical part is secondary to me. What lies in my heart is the point of my artwork while the technical part is the language I use. I do not omit the technical part but I seek how to make the best compromise between the craft and my “truth”. Another work that influenced me a lot was a book by Chinese painter Shi Tao called Sayings on Paintings from Monk Bitter Gourd. While the book draws on Zen Buddhism as Shi Tao allegedly tried to use his art to translate the philosophy to people, for me it was more about the way it made me think about visual representation of truth in relation to a mind.
To explain, my hand – my technical skill – should be in tune with my spirit and my spirit should be awoken to the universe in order to grasp on the truth and express in my artwork. For me, my brush should be an extension of my heart and hence my heart should make the moves, not my hand.
That however means that if the brush is led by a different heart, the truth will be the one that belongs to this other heart. And, going back to what I said previously, the truth is in the dialogue these hearts share together.
Since this project is related to BTS, I decided to feature the term Mikrokosmos in the name, since I think the song Mikrokosmos beautifully corresponds with the idea.
Jimin has been a long time present in my art project on dance as a dancer simply due to inspiring me. Some people may search for deeper meaning behind him inspiring me, but that’d actually be false: he’s inspiring me as a dancer because his artistic expression speaks to me very strongly in regards to the topic of my artwork. In fact, no other dancer currently inspires me as much as he does.
I can’t really include all the members of BTS in the project because while I like them and they’re also brilliant in their own artistic expression, it would make the topic too complicated for me. Also, the level of inspiration I could draw from them in relation to my own artistic projects (dance being the topic, does not balance the downhills of such approach.
Perhaps a better explanation to the question “Why Jimin?”, however, is “Why ARMY?” When I realised I was no longer able to keep detached from Jimin as a subject of my artwork, I kept thinking how to work with this situation and I thought about it as a problem, a handicap for a long time. But as they say about many issues that may be the source of our insecurities, why not make it the main point instead? There is probably no other dancer that inspires me whom I could try to use as a subject to explore the topic of perception and the reason is simple – no other dancer on my list has such a dedicated and well organised following. Originally, I was a bit unhappy about portraying someone who’s being portrayed by numerous people but then it came to me that the fact so many people are focusing on him is the unique opportunity that deserves it’s own attention.
And if we have such an opportunity, we should use it.
When people react to my artwork, it comes from two places – a person reacting to my artwork with the knowledge of the subject or a person reacting without the knowledge. When ARMY react to my artwork on twt, it’s because they know the subject and so instead of evaluating the technical part of the picture, it seems to me they’re more focused on whether it’s Jimin for them or isn’t. When my family and friends, who generally don’t know Jimin, react to my artwork, they evaluate what does it make them feel, yes, but as a picture with no other meaning than “a dancer”. A friend of mine even thought I was drawing it out of my head. That was making me more and more frustrated as I wasn’t really interested to know whether the picture in question pleased their eyes and soul, I wanted to know whether I grasped the essence of Jimin the dancer. But they could not say, they did not have their own perception of Jimin to compare it to. ARMY does. Each of us have our own perception, our experience there. And that’s incredibly valuable.
I’d like to confront my perception with others, meaning to explore how perception of a person, in this instance me, fits to the perception of others. I don’t plan to draw any concrete conclusions, it’s not a scientific work but an art project. Instead of numbers and stats and analyses, I’d like to present practical experience and instead of making it divisive, as perception may seem, I’d try to focus on the inclusiveness of diversity. Would you change a line? Would you search different colours? Is this what you feel? Everyone would be invited to make their own experience and perhaps challenge their own ideas about perception and objective truth.
In the duration of one year, I’d periodically share artwork based on JM’s dancing and I’d invite fans to freely react to this artwork: reaction could take the form of both verbal commentary and interference with the artwork itself. Those interested, would be free to demonstrate visually what they’d change using my artwork as the basis. In other words, they could delete a line and draw a different one, change colours – whatever they’d felt didn’t sit right with them. There would be no restrictions about the nature of the artwork I’d deliver, except for the fact, it would be a form of fine art. On my account, I still keep realistic to an extent but I’d like to leap into more abstract expression too.
After the year, I’d conclude the project by reflecting on it – possibly by creating one more artwork where I’d try to somehow address the opinions of others. All artwork and commentary, including the input of others, would be consequently published on a website in form of a gallery and everyone would have the opportunity to visit and think for themselves about the topic of perception, commenting on their experience would be very welcomed too.
There are some issues which I am still not too sure how to go about.
Firstly, people joining in may be from the same background and hence their perception may be rather similar. I don’t have a solution on this, since it isn’t about science and instead of inviting specific people, I’d like to have people join by themselves on their own free will.
Another problem is that people are often used to accepting ideas instead of questioning them, especially with things that seem to require some specific technical skill and I fear people being scared to express themselves freely. I mean, they might feel they are not in a position to interfere with my artwork if they are not artists. But my artwork doesn’t focus on the technical part, the point is within emotional experience and general perception.
When thinking about this problem, I thought it could be partially solved by hosting actual real life events, where a group of volunteers would react to a particular artwork together and could feel more comfortable to share their own visions. However, in the current global situation, this may not be exactly possible. If everything was safe and a tour could take a place, I’d try to use the opportunity of many fans getting together to organise such events but right now, I’m not sure as it seems too complicated to do it online right now.
What/Who I seek: A technical savvy ARMYs who’d be interested in helping me with the whole process, including establishment of the website volunteers, who could eventually help with hosting any organised event (but this part depends on the development of global situation) All ARMYs interested in participating as reactors to my artwork. General feedback on this idea is welcomed too
For several years, I’ve been working on a long term art project called All the Dance in My World which aims to explore my perception and feelings related to dance as both the audience and the dancer as well (I am not really a dancer, but I do learn contemporary dance and have some little experience with other styles and approaches too). Having a full time job in the media, I currently create artwork in my free time, although it’s still the most important activity for me. I never finished art college where I studied traditional animation and due to mental issues I got behind all my other artist friends. However, art makes me the most happy and so, I’ve returned to it after a few years and instead of thinking about the issues around career and livelihood in relation to art, I’m not focusing on the art itself. Due to complicated reasons, the only artwork of mine which is publicly available is featured on my Twitter account @ResidesIn. Since the account is dedicated to Jimin, BTS and issues related to mental health, it doesn’t really feature any other artwork.