I embarked on this project as part of a 21-day collaborative autoethnography project happening globally when I took my KMD1001 course in Summer 2020. The study was highly experimental and exploratory: with no initial expectations for the outcome of an individual study, each participant was asked to engage in sensemaking of the self, Other, and world at the time of global pandemic through voluntarily responding to 21 prompts sent by the project initiators every day.

I decided to focus on the self and interactions with others in an online learning environment as an introverted student-artist-researcher with communication anxiety at the time of COVID-19.

For my project, I spontaneously developed and tested two methods of expressing and delving into my inner world – keyword photos and networked photo collage. For the keyword photos initiative, I shot photographs based on a few keywords generated each week after I attended an online class (KMD1001). For the photo collage, I walked – without a conscious thought about the consequence of the activity – always having this question in mind, “What do you see in networks, connections, or interactions I have experienced and observed in the online learning environment?” This activity has resulted in me shooting more than 300 photographs. I then picked ones that most represent my experience and placed them together as one piece to create a final image that represents the same thing but on a larger scale. No single photo was used twice.

All photographs were nature-themed and taken in different locations near my home (i.e., familiar places).

I initially expected that this study would reveal my thoughts / ideas / impressions about my online and offline interactions with other people, the online learning community, and the environment through the lens of an introvert with communication anxiety. However, the final work unintendedly revealed my perception of macro-level connections across people and countries in the world at the time of the COVID-19 crisis, and turning my eyes toward the “bigger” issues the world was experiencing then helped me see well the much “smaller” issues I was experiencing.

I concluded my chapter with these words:

“For the seventh prompt, I wrote ‘I look at the whole cube now and realized how much it has melted already while I was focusing on the inside of the cube.’ I tend to focus too much on inside of the cube, or me, while missing a lot of what is happening outside of the cube. Perhaps for this reason, making sense of the world through walking, photographing, and collaging to represent the wholeness I see worked as the best method for me to see not only the trees but also the forest.”


Participating in this study was one of the best experiences I have had during master’s program at OISE, as a graduate student, researcher, and artist. Quite unexpectedly, my 21-day journey to my introverted world turned out to be a book chapter published together with other global scholars participating in the collaborative autoethnography processes at the time. After a year of waiting, it is finally in the last stage of publication. More about my chapter and the book will be posted in this website for those who might be interested in reading further.


Below are some of the representative works selected from the project with quotes from the chapter.


"The part that’s still left there might represent my belief, or wish, that there are a lot of good things about me, but the missing part of the dandelion fluff shows my belief something other people naturally have is missing in me."

Inside / locked

"[Me] locked inside. But this ‘inside’ doesn’t mean being locked out of the society due to COVID. It doesn’t affect me at all. I am mentally locked out of the outside world where people live their lives happily with others."

Half part of me

"I feel something with huge power/energy is holding me to stop me from taking an action or moving forward."

Lost / closed ways

" hopelessness and regret after the chance to reach to ‘the better consequence’ I have imagined was lost."

Agonizing tree face

"The tree bark pattern [represents] any persons who have been agonized over what is happening to the self and the world due to COVID-19. For the ‘what’ that makes them suffer, I think the loss of a loved one due to the virus, the restriction to be away from others, and the fear of even more virus spreading due to the current Black Lives Matter protests."

Strong & weak

"[I] am weak to judgement from others while there are so many people who stand strong"

Up & bottom

"Half part of me wants to go up. Another half wants to stay at bottom."


"the sense of how people rushed to reach an answer/conclusion and how I was feeling rushed to do the same as they do. My slow brain tried so hard to process and make sense of a lot of information in a very short time but didn’t really capture details as well as the whole picture of what’s being discussed at the moment. "

Their motivation

"...other students' [motivation]. They try to go up, up, up, up and eventually wind takes them to somewhere even higher, where I might or might not reach on my own. "

My motivation

"My motivation emerges from deep inside."

Unconscious mind

"I see my unconscious state/thoughts/feelings in somewhere deep and black with tiny sparkles that represent some greater ideas that sometimes emerge as a result of automatic association of ideas that’s happening inside my head."

Brain waves

"Being pressured to contribute. Intense thoughts, emotions rushing through my mind. Many important ideas are lost along the way."

Networked Trees under COVID-19

"Self ― The right side of the image, where the withered trees extend their arms to survive, is usually the place that I sit during my communication with others online or offline. Motivation to be a ‘better’ self is always present; however, growing as the way I have always been does not change myself or the perception of myself. Connections between others and I are sometimes strong and sometimes weak. On the other far end, there are people who seem to enjoy interactions with others—family, friends, or anyone they randomly meet. Connections between them are always strong, vivid, and colorful. There are always people who share their kindness to the other end. That is where the two worlds are gently merged."
"World ― People, countries, cultures, objects, spaces. All the things that used to be signs of human development have now been destroyed, destructed, reinvented, and restructured. Suffer, sadness, depression, anger, and confusion have been spreading. People in many parts of the current world are continuously suffering from the disease and violence whereas there are also many who have not been affected much and have been living as ‘nearly normally’ as they used to be. We never know the near or far future for them, or anyone, but one last message to be shared through this image is even if all thrive in the end, the world then is a completely different place we could have never imagined to be."


wakana.gen "at"


Somewhere in Toronto, ON