Final Animation Project Reflection

Reflection:
My animation, “Foreigner: Part 1” went through several forms before reaching the final product which I presented to our class. Originally, I wanted the animation to be a short film that explored the growth of a waiguoren (outsider) in a new city. Occurrences such as busy subway cars, a mysterious language, burning hot dumplings, etc. make the foreigner question his move to this new land. But as time goes by he gets acquainted with the culture and customs that make this place unique. While I did not have time to complete this entire plot, I opted to submit a part 1 of what this adventure could eventually become. This chapter concludes with our character catching a glimpse of a beautiful women across the street, he is stopped in his tracks.

I really enjoyed creating this project because it allowed me to combine the set of skills I have been developing during the semester while taking Comlab. From choosing and soundscaping the audio of the video to consideration of the colors and design of the world of my animation, I know for a fact none of this would have been possible prior to this semester.

I had no idea that animating, even without stop-motion, still takes an incredible amount of time and concentration to deliver a cohesive product.

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments and feedback.

Ian

SITA SINGS THE BLUES – reflection

Sita Sings the Blues is an odd creature. The blend of modern and historical produce something I was totally not expecting. Before watching the 80min animation I chose to do a little research on its history. I had read about the creator’s broken relationship, the copyright controversy surrounding the music used, and the Rama/Sita story that she uses to parallel her own life. What was most surprising about the film was the choice to segment the entire film by art style. Sometimes the film appears as a flash animation as Sita croons away. Other times her own life story is reminiscent of an older television cartoon. At some moments the film appears to be hand-drawn, and at others it depicts black silhouettes narrating the Indian saga with cut-out illustrations. To me, this decision is both jarring and also very interesting. I think that at times it works well to differentiates the different story lines occurring but on the other hand it almost breaks the film too far apart to not seem cohesive. Furthermore, in my opinion, her own story does not draw enough parallels to Sita’s tale for the audience to necessarily feel a deep connection between the two heartbroken women. That being said, I really really did enjoy watching this. An animation of this length created, written, and executed by a single person is no easy feat and the fact that it was accomplished with such ingenuity and masterful craft is definitely inspiring. When creating my own animation I will think of the tons of formats/styles of animation Paley uses in Sita, and consider what options I have and what each format says about the story I am trying to tell.

SHORT FILM: TWELVE

TWELVE by Jack B. Du, Cindy Hu, Xiaoyu Ma, and Ian Beckman Reagan

Reflection:

TWELVE is a short film we developed as a collaboration of concepts including psychology, reincarnation, desire, and love. The story centers around the death of an individual and his reaction once he enters a liminal space where anything is possible. Yet there’s a catch: He only has twelve hours left. How does he allocate his time? The activities he chooses arc from the more intangible and important (writing a letter to his family, professing his love) to the more material (eating his favorite food, watching his favorite movie) and eventually ending in misery, losing several hours drinking and passing out. As the time dwindles down the individual at last has a revelation. His final hour is spent in reality understanding what life is to him. As time runs out he is struck by a vehicle and the twelve hours begin again.

The creation of this film was lengthy, fun, and challenging. We spent over two days filming, and many many hours editing on Premiere. I think that our choosing of an easy space to shoot in (empty 8th floor room) and our strong planning beforehand made the whole process much smoother. After we finished shooting everything we only needed to reshoot a few small parts fortunately. The feedback we received from the class and our critique panel was very insightful and useful in our polishing of the final product. Our choice on how to handle the audio was influenced by everyone’s input, and we are quite pleased with the result.

Making a cohesive short film is no easy task, but I think that for a first attempt our deliverable accomplished what we sought out to achieve fairly well, and for that reason I think the project was a success.

Sound Project Analysis

This project was my favorite to work on thus far.  It was challenging for several reasons:  I have never worked in a music application before, and the project was so open ended that our team could really use our imaginations when figuring out how to approach the assignment.  I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said that our project was a perfectly smooth ride.  We had technical difficulties, some communication issues, and personally, I had to scrap a version of my own part of the project after working on it for over 2 hours because simply wasn’t happy with the result.  But that was a great learning experience… I was telling my roommate who was in our room with me as I was working on this that I surprised myself by being able to set aside my work, look at it, and make the decision to restart.  It’s not an easy decision, but I can say that without a doubt I created a better final product because of it.

But this write up isn’t only about my portion of the project, it’s about the final piece of work.  The original idea came about throguh our joint inspiration derived from the Grey Album.   We wanted to mix unlikely songs to create a coherent and exciting mix.  Furthermore, we wanted to play around the idea of tagging each other in as a team through the use of acapella/intrumental switching.  For example, if I began my portion of the mix with song1 instrumental and song2 acapella, my next partner’s portiong of the mix would be song2 instrumental and song3 acapella, etc. etc.  While we originally believed this idea would work well, we realized while we working on this project that not all songs go well together and quickly had to abandon this pattern of tag.  Needless to say, you can still hear this rule play out in several instances of our mix.

I really appreciated the class’ feedback, especially the suggestion to have some silence in between songs (not everything needs to be a crossfade!)  I reworked a portion of the mix keeping this criticism in mind, and I must say it really does improve the flow of the track.  Thanks!

Comic Book Analysis

Sorry About The Resolution

 

Sorry About the Resolution was a comic strip concept founded on the idea of “why not?”  And while I thought it would initially be an interesting concept, I’m afraid that we allowed the concept to cloud the meaining of our work.  Surrealism and anthropomorphic oddity is supposed to juxtapose the deadpan humor and bland conversations that our characters express mindlessly as they cycle through their days.  Rather, the lack of character consistancy between panels, as well as poor use of speech boxes leads to a confusing strip that loses its true intentions, unfortunately.  That being said, I do believe that creating this work with a team and receiving great feedback from the class and professor was a constructive experience that I will use to create better art in the future.  Thanks everyone!

A response to Embrace the Remix

Kirby Ferguson’s Embrace the Remix series presents a lofty call to arms:  He is declaring a revolution on ourselves, seeking to return to the original intent of copyright and patent law in order to “better the lives of everyone, incentivizing creativity and producing a rich public domain.”

The four part series chronicles the history of remixes in the past century, highlighting everything from musical to technological and cinematic references, reappropriating, and copying.  And while I agree with his general goal, I believe that his creative utopia easier said than done.  For example, I believe the idea of loss aversion which Ferguson mentions several times is only one part of the big picture.  Opposing remixing is not just about losing money, but also a more spiritual and emotional loss.  When works are remixed, one could argue that the remix has meticulously deconstructed the integrity of the original.  For example, in the creative field (and I’m sure this applies to our fields as well) there is a sort of defensiveness and purity to one’s creation.  When an artist creates his or her “masterpiece” the idea of another person having the gall to take, change, and call it their own is scarring.  “How dare they alter my art!”  That being said, Ferguson’s entire point is that, “Everything is a Remix.”  There is no “original masterpiece” because every creation is the accumulation of thoughts, experiences, past works, discussions, popular culture, and other factors that cause whatever is next to inherently reference the past.  It might not be a new concept, but it’s definitely a difficult concept to accept.  I want to take on Ferguson’s challenge and call to open myself to a world of Remix.  His series was entertaining, thoughtful, and full of rich historical examples that furthered his point.

If I were to pick a few of my favorite examples, I would have to choose Quentin Tarantino’s love of movies which manifests itself into his reference-ridden works such as Kill Bill.  In this example, the director shameless and expertly remixes the past to make a wonderful new present.  On the otherhand, one such remix-example that was not received quite as openly was Steve Jobs and Apple.  It was amazing to see the reversal in viewpoint from a young cheeky Steve Jobs who, “shameless steals” other’s ideas, while in 2010 he wanted to obliterate the competition, Android, for stealing.

Undoubedtly, the world surrounding copyright, patents, remixing, memes and referencing are incredible relevant and contemporary topics of discussion.  In the future it is difficult to say how each industry will vear.  For the sake of creativity and cultural growth I can only cross my finger’s that Ferguson’s call may near a closer reality.

 

IAN BECKMAN REAGAN

 

A response to The Machine Stops

The Machine Stops was published in 1909, decades before the internet, cellphones, and advanced mass transit.  The Model T was first sold only a year prior to this stories’ publication!  To me, this is bone-chilling:  Surely those born at the beginnning of the 20th century could not have fathomed the advances in technology that we have achieved today, so how could E.M. Forster have envisioned a reality that, while containing several major differences, reflects some of the notable changes we as a society have experienced in the most recent years?  Perhaps the obsession with mechanical progression was even evident back then.  I will reflect upon the topic of the dangers of our fetishization with technology below.

The Machine provides humanity with anything one could possibly desire.  At the press of a button, your desires are served to you instanteously, yet early on in the story it is clear that not all is well.  Vashti is unhappy.  This is odd, how could one be upset when all earthly desires are satisfied?  Moreover, these emotions are not temporary.  Throughout the story she is described as lonely, exasperated, angry, irritated, horrified, disgusted, and experiences spasms of rage.  That being said, she worships the Machine, praying to it at night, allowing it to consume her life.  One of the most alarming moments for me, was when it took Vashti several attempts to divorce herself from the machine to visit her own son.  The thought of being away from her honeycomb cell even for a short duration results in more than fear, she feels sick from it.

While I wouldn’t say that we as a society have reached this point, examples come to mind that run parallel to reality in this story.  I think of the gaming cafes in Asia where teenagers have spent hours upon hours of their life glued to a different kind of Machine, an alternate reality.  I think of the disgusting amount of time I know I have devoted to scrolling screen after screen on the internet, not particularly enjoying the experience.  People wait more than a week outside of the Apple Store to be the first to own the next iPhone.  Or my instinctive reaction when I wake up in the middle of the night to check my emails, that’s not ok!!  Have I already gone too far?  Do I worship the Machine?

Today I applaud the genius’ of our generation for developing such technologies that have “made our world a better place” but at the same time, I am weary of our future.  I do not want to live to see the day when our society sees the metaphorical “scraps of the untainted sky.”

Ian Reagan

A response to ON THE RIGHTS OF MOLOTOV MAN

I want to preface this response by saying I am not particularly well-versed in IP and copyright law, but I will do my best to analyze the situation presented in the Harper piece.

“On the Rights of Molotov Man” is supposedly co-authored by Joy Garnett and Susan Meisales.  Unfortunately, this joint op-ed is not a conversation between the reappropriator and the appropriated.  Rather, the two viewpoints rest one after the other for the reader to inspect and decide for himself who is in the right.  While this style of article works for the topic at hand, I believe a dialogue between the two artists would have yielded some greater insights on the issue.

That being said, this piece is undoubedtly interesting to me, and while published over 7 years ago, brings up the increasingly relevant issues of reappropriation, piracy, and copyright.  Truthfully, I can see the points being raised by both artists, and also have issues with each of their stances.

For example, in Garnett’s artistic process, she describes a step in which she, “save[s] the most promising images in folders on my computer desktop, and I let them sit for a while so I could forget where I found them.”  Which makes sense from a creative standpoint, but at the same time reveals her disregard for crediting the original source.  Perhaps she believed that her work was a sufficient “remix” of the original work, but as a member of Rhizome, a community that, according to the article, often has public discussions on, “the philosophies of appropriation, sampling, remixing,and current copyright controversies,” she must have known that her work was walking in a gray area of legality.

On the other hand, Meisales’ argument also contains some holes.  While I do not know the specifics on time-sensitivity as it relates to the copyright law and reappropriation, I do know that there was nearly a 25+ year gap between the time the photo was taken and the exhibition of the Riot series.  From my perspective it seems that Meisales may have been partly motivated beyond the artistic integrity of her photograph, as she is very well accustomed to the reappropriation of the photograph as seen by the photo archive at the end of the article.  In this case, she was seeking a financial compensation, which undermines her intent in my opinion, as it does not mention whether Garnett has made any financial gain of her own from the artwork.

An additional point… At the end of the piece Meisales is quoted, “I still feel strongly, as I watch Pablo Arauz’s context being stripped away-as I watch him being converted into the emblem of an abstract riot-that it would be a betrayal of him if I did not at least protest the diminishment of his act of defiance.”  I would have to say that I really disagree with this comment.  I believe Meisales is misunderstanding the purpose of Garnett’s work.  In my opinion, rather than diminshing the act of defiance by stripping the original context from the work, the reappropriation is blowing up the context, allow Arauz to stand for much more than the Nicaraguan riot.  The Riot Series and the Molotov Man specifically stand for the raw human emotions that are magnified through the paintings.  Without its specific context, Molotov Man stands for all acts of defiance from the beginning of time, a much more powerful message in my opinion.  And for that, I believe Meisales, as an artist, should be thankful.

Keeping in mind my gripes, I do still very much value the importance of copyright law as well as the allowance for reappropriation and remixing.  If I could choose for myself, I would side with Garnett as I believe keeping in mind the time gap as well as how the content was recreated, it provides for sufficient alterations and circustance to not be considered, “sailing under the flag of piracy” as Meisales’ lawyer viciously put Garnett’s painting.