Jack’s Exercise 11: One Day of Tuzki

One Day of Tuzki

This is my project for animation. I had a dream when I was a child, the drawings on paper starts to move in that dream. I had a very good time playing with that drawings. That is why I am so passionate about making things move on paper. Also, I always prefer to make drawn character interact with real persons.

When I was in elementary school, I learned Flash by myself and I planned to make an animation where something is drawn by a pen and the drawings can move. You can also interact with the drawings by drawing and erasing stuff. It turns out I did not manage to do it because my poor Flash skills at that time. However, that dream and that plan is never gone.

So one approach to make drawings move on paper is to make animations, the other is not make “paper”. I was totally astonished when I first got my hands on an E-ink device. The texts look exactly like something on a real piece of paper and it can change. It is like a dream comes true. And I decided I wanted to do more about it. This is actually what I wrote about when I was applying NYU Shanghai. That is how important this dream is for me.

When I decided to take Communications Lab, I understood that there used to be an Animation Course and I was kind of sad that I could not take that course. Thank Marianne that she told me there would be something about animation covered in Com Lab. After waiting for the whole semester, I finally got a chance to actually learn animation, more specifically, stop-motion animation. And I decided to do such an animation for my childhood dream. I had difficulty making the story so that I did not start the animation enough early. Before deadline, I forced myself to started drawing and I started at 1 PM and ended at 6 AM on the next day. The animation lasts 30 seconds, but it took me around 17 hours to make the prototype. I did appreciate this experience and I would like do more animations like this. This is something I really, really enjoy doing. It is a shame that there is not a story in the animation. It is basically just for fun. But it is my first stop-motion animation and I enjoyed it. I hope the viewers also enjoy it.

Jack’s Exercise 7: Cut You Out Of My Heart (Group Work with Xiaoyue and Sarabi)


Note: This is a group work of Xiaoyue Gong, Sarabi N. Eventide and Jack B. Du (Jiadong Du).

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 4.45.48 PM

At the very beginning, Sarabi came up with the idea in class and got them done in class. I was very excited to see the composition of our song. I helped her with some technical problems and she made it at last.Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 4.46.23 PM

Then, in order to make the music sounds more dramatic, I made the piano track run from left to right and right to left.


We gathered together and recorded tens of vocals in Xiaoyue’s room.

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I added three vocal tracks in GarageBand and matched them.

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 4.51.52 PM Xiaoyue did the final editing and added more tracks and sound effects.

Thanks to Xiaoyue, she did the final revision and made the song more beautiful.

Jack’s Response:

I did not have much experience about music composition before. So honestly, I had difficulty following what Xiaoyue and Sarabi were doing. I tried to solve some technical problems when Sarabi was composing the music in GarageBand and also helped Sarabi and Xiaoyue record the vocal. Also, I matched the three vocal tracks in GarageBand and put them along with the music in Garageband. I edited some of the piano track and, finally, thanks to Xiaoyue, who did the final editing, made this song much more appealing.

I enjoyed working with Xiaoyue and Sarabi and learned a lot when doing this project. I guess I got to study more about music so that I can make better music in future.

Xiaoyue’s Response:

Sarabi and I cooperated on this song. Sarabi used Garageband to type in the main melody, but it was so hard to type with visual keyboard that the rhythm was a mess. So I first used quantize which helped a little bit and manually dragged the keys around and made changes to the melody and rhythm.

I also added two different styles of drum to the music, varied the volumes and added a little beginning to the music.

Then I wrote the lyrics which was inspired by my recent life. Sarabi and I practiced singing the lyrics together. Then I recorded her singing using Tascam DR40. Audio-Technica AT8035. Philips SHM7110. Then I recorded myself singing. Jack helped us take pictures of us recording! Good pictures.

We had about 40 recordings and I sorted through them and picked the best ones to put together or extracted a part of the recording that would be useful to us. I used Adobe Audition to put together the vocals of Sarabi and me and also the music made in Garageband, varied the volumes and made sure everything works. I tried to change the pitch of the soundtracks but that sounded so bad.

After the class, I made many small refinements to the tracks as Marianne advised. One revision that was extremely necessary was that I turned the volume of vocal tracks to minimum during the part when we were not singing and made the piano solo prominent. I really should have thought of this before!

Sarabi’s Response:

I’ve done some minor sound work before, so I had quite a few ideas for the project. Recently I’ve been interested in using “unconventional” noises in my music. We didn’t get around to that this time, but we ended up creating a pretty decent song. The idea for the music first occurred to me in class. I didn’t realize it until a few hours later, but the music was a mix between “Romeo Kiffe Juliette” (Grand Corps Malade) and “Formidable” (Stromae) both of which tell incredibly powerful stories of love and lost and hopelessness. I ended up not using the music form the Stromae piece (time didn’t allow me to mix them) but the Grand Corps Malade piece was a sufficient background. After putting the main chords into Garageband using the Mac Pro keyboard, I quantized them and attempted a more complicated piano part. Needless to say, it was difficult and the rhythm was off, but Xiaoyue fixed it and wrote the lyrics for the song. After the music was done Xiaoyue, Jack, and I got together to record. The two of them mixed the vocals with the music.

Jack’s Exercise 2: Reproductive Art (Group Work with Xiaoyu)

Reproductive Art

(Click the title to open the reproductive art web page.)

Note: This is a group work of Xiaoyu Ma and Jack B. Du (Jiadong Du).

At first, Xiaoyu did the most of the HTML part and I was trying to help her with the CSS part. But it turned out I felt like I wanna give it completely new look. I started to revise both HTML and CSS, and finally made this webpage, which I think is quite beautiful. Basically, she was in charge of the actual reflection I was in charge of the web design.

It turned out I want to say something about this article and I wrote my own response and updated the webpage. It’s great to work with Xiaoyu and she always had good ideas. Also, she spent quite a lot time reading this article and even did quite a few researches on it. At the end of the webpage, there are several interesting links, all of which are contributed by Xiaoyu.

Anyways, below are our responses.

Jack’s Response: Reflection on Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”

This article was written decades ago, but there’s still quite a lot we can learn. Benjamin talked a lot about the new arts in the age of mechanical reproduction. For me, I think it is a natural transition that arts are changing all the time. Nowadays, arts do not have to be something hard to reproduce. Photographs could be art, and so could movies.

Actually, I am quite glad that technology makes it easier for regular people to meet arts, even the ancient hard-to-reproduce arts. In the past, if you wanna see Mona Lisa, you have to travel all the way to France so that you can take a look at it. But now, you can find the photograph of it on the Internet. This is not even mechanical reproduction. This is Internet, which is way more advanced and convenient. I think technology does not make the arts cheap, but make the arts more accessible and appreciated by more people.

At the same time, there are more forms of arts along with the new technology. It is true that photographs can be reproduced easily. But for a real photographer, even the material on which he/she prints the photographs matters. So it is not as easy as we imagine to reproduce the arts of photography. That is because every details are representing the author’s artistic ideas. It is not just a JPEG file. It is much, much more than that. Even the frame they use may matter to their works. So the beauty of the original is still reserved, just like the old paintings or drawings.

Xiaoyu’s Response: Art in Modern Society: From Elitism to Mass Culture

In his the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Walter Benjamin conveyed his worry that reproductive technology, such as photograph and the film, will lead to the decline of art. This process is accompanied by the absence of authenticity, or “aura” in Benjamin’s words (14), the change from art’s cult value to its exhibition value (20) and the change from a concentrated critic as the audience to the mind-absent public (45).

It is true that with the cost and time of producing a pierce of art are greatly reduced with the application of mechanical reproduction technology. The digital reproduction of masterpieces makes it incredibly easy for the public to see, hear and touch beauty everyday. As a result of this intensive yet unconscious embrace with art, people care more about visual and emotional enjoyment instead of a deep appreciation of the art itself. The representative forms of art in modern days, namely photos and the film, are converting art to a mass consumer culture.

However, it does not necessarily mean that mechanical reproduction is ruining the art, especially when it not only copies the existing art but also creates new art pieces. Different from Duhamel, Benjamin does not deny the contribution that the film makes to art (43). Although the film is a basically reproduction of the present scene, it creates art by using technologies that enable us to see what we usually fail to see in our daily life. Like traditional forms of art, the film is from our daily life, but is also a bit beyond the daily routine. Actually, in Benjamin’s time, computers were not widely used to create the art. Now digital media technology has greatly enriched the tools of art expression. For technology, reproduction is just the preparation stage for art creation. It is saving art in a busy modern world with explosive information, instead of ruining it.

Jack’s Exercise 5: Jimmy’s Adventurous Journey (Group Work with Jacko and Michael)


Jimmy’s Adventurous Journey (Click the photo to open the comic page)

Note: This is a group work of Jacko Walz, Michael Chang and Jack B. Du (Jiadong Du).

This comic is about Jimmy. First, he pulled out a book and read. The book was actually about Jimmy himself. After each book, he pulled out another book and the stories were totally different. The comic ends with Jimmy’s smiling and satisfied face.

We were not being creative, because we came up with the idea of making comics about Jimmy. Yes, it’s Jimmy again. But we were trying to be creative about the format and the way to interpret his stories. In order to add variety to this comic, we decided to make three different stories for him. So we each worked on our own and designing the unique journey for him without telling each other what we were doing. I photoshoped Jimmy’s head on someone that is reading. Jacko helped to make the “flip page” scene, which was replaced with reading a different book at final revision. I also made the closed book one, which was quite hard, because it is not easy to “close” a book while it was open. I recreated some part of the background and finally made it look tidy enough.

Jacko put Jimmy in Star Wars, Michael make him a revolutionary hero and I took him to Harry Potter combined with NYU in real world.

I find it really interesting that Jimmy is also facing left in the comic while the comic actually goes from left to right. In class, Marianne came up with the idea of flipping him horizontally so that he is facing right so as to go with the flow of the comic. It was a good idea and we flipped them and it turned out to look much better and there was a natural flow of that comic, which leads the reader to read from left to right.

Also, the original version seems confusing, because there is almost no connection between the book Jimmy is reading and the stories that took place. We put either the name or the picture for each book that indicates Jimmy is reading different book, which also helps the readers to understand the comic better.

Generally, comic is something I grew up with, but when I started to actually make a comic, it turned out to be quite problematic. There are quite a few factors we need to consider but were missed. We did enjoy making this comic and learned how to make it easy to understand.


Jack’s Exercise 6: Reflection on Everything is a Remix

Reflection on Everything is a Remix

At first appearance, Ferguson seems to be a guy that wants to abolish patent laws and take advantage of others’ intellectual properties. But when I keep watching, I found I started to agree with him more and more.

It is quite true that “everything is a remix” (Ferguson). All lifes on the earth began with one single cell, according to evolution. The cell was “copied, transformed and combined” (Ferguson) so that there turned out to be a variety of creatures on the earth. Humans are doing the same thing intellectually. Music, paintings and films are basically “copied, transformed and combined” (Ferguson) from the previous ones. There is nothing that is created. What we are doing everyday is just remixing what we have learned.

As Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Basically, we are making all these achievements because we learn from our ancestors without making the mistakes that they have made. The reason why we study at school is that we do not want to remake everything on our own, we want to learn those shortcuts and how the pioneers made them. After learning all these, we came up with our own ideas and, hopefully, make better methods. But our new methods are actually based on what we have learned, which are other methods. That is why “everything is a remix” (Ferguson).

In terms of patent laws, I think we still have good reasons to keep them. We may improve them. As we see, there are a lot of open source programs like Linux, Arduino, etc. So those original “owners” were generous enough to make it open source to the public, which contributes a lot to the public. So I think for things like these, even if someone make some changes based on them, they should not been patented. But if the original author did want to patent it, it is still reasonable to patent, as long as that is really his/her own work. By his/her own work, I mean, most of the creation is created by him instead of basing on someone else’s open creation.

Generally, I do agree what Ferguson’s idea, but I still think patent laws need to be reserved but revised.

Jack’s Exercise 4: iPhone Commercial (Group Work with Ferwa and Cindy)


iPhone Commercial

Note: This image is a group work of Jack B. Du, Ferwa Razzaq and Cindy Hu.

This is our final work for this assignment: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are lifted up by a weight lifter called Tim Cook, who is sitting on the earth.  In the space, as if in the heaven, Steve Jobs is praying for the future of Apple, looking at the viewer at the same time. On two iPhones, there are two children that stand for the size of two iPhones. It conveys the idea of “bigger than bigger”.

Let’s take a look at how this work is done!

At the very beginning, we got together and discussed what we could do. There were quite a lot of ideas, but since iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were just released recently, we finally agreed on Cindy’s idea of Photoshopping the iPhone commercial. We would like to convey the idea of “bigger than bigger”. So we got to work.


original screenshot

Somehow, the image above on apple’s home page cannot be saved. So we decided to take a screenshot and start editing it. Cindy did that and cropped it.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 3.03.47 PM

Cindy’s Work, Sept. 12, 2014

To stress the point of “big”, I added a weightlifter, who is lifting two iPhones up. Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 3.06.24 PM

Jack’s Work, Sept. 13, 2014

And below is the weightlifter photo that I used.


Actually, I encountered a problem that all weightlifters cover their thumbs with their figures, but I did need thumbs to cover iPhones. It turned out I found a thumb somewhere else. It looks quite fake on the weightlifter’s hands but I tried. And here’s the thumb 🙂


Then, Ferwa added the earth, which, again, exaggerates how big the two iPhones are.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 3.09.46 PM

Ferwa’s Work, Sept. 14, 2014

Below is the earth Ferwa used.


Cindy thought hard and came up with an idea that the age of two kids may better demonstrate the size of two iPhones.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 3.15.14 PM

Cindy’s Work, Sept. 14, 2014

She did a very good job because she paid enough attention to the angle of the two kids so that they fit the screens.

Below are the photos she used.

baby child

When I got the photo again. I feel like I need to add something interesting as background. Since there’s the earth, why not add the galaxy as background. I eventually found the default wallpaper of OS X Mountain Lion, which stands for the classic Apple design. And also, I photoshoped Tim Cook’s face on the weightlifter, adjusted the color balance and hue so that it fits the skin color of the weightlifter.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 3.21.48 PM

Jack’s Work, Sept. 14, 2014

Below are the photos I used this time.

Tim andromeda_web

So originally, we were trying to convey the idea of the iPhone commercial and making fun of it. But Ferwa added something serious, which makes our work more meaningful. She added Steve Jobs in the background. It’s as if Steve Jobs is looking at the new iPhones from the heaven and praying for that. I personally like this part a lot. Also, she did some adjustments to the earth and we finally finished the first version of our work, cheers!


Ferwa’s Work, Sept. 15, 2014

Below is the photo that she used.

steve jobsIn class, we received some feedbacks and revised it. Below is the final version of our work!


When we edited images in Photoshop, we were trying to keep track of what everyone has done. We grouped the previous person’s layers and duplicated it so that the next person would not affect the previous person’s work. That means we can get back to whichever person’s work if someone ruined the work by mistake, so that we do not need to restart from the beginning.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 3.36.52 PM

Anyway, I think we successfully conveyed the idea of “bigger than bigger”, made an interesting image and also included some serious questions to think about.

Cindy Hu’s Reflection

This is my very first time to use photoshop for an assignment. So this is quite different from my previous experience. Actually, I had no idea what to do at the very beginning. But thinking about what people have been talking about lately, I came up with the idea of editing the iPhone 6 commercial.

When I got the picture for the second round, it already looked quite complete. Therefore, I chose to add something on the screen to illustrate iPhone 6’s slogan “Bigger than Bigger”. I used the picture of a baby and as he grew older to a boy, the iPhone turned bigger as well. When I saw the final version of our work, I was really proud of our team since our work is interesting as well as meaningful.

Jack’s Exercise 3: Reflection on On the Rights of Molotov Man

Reflection on On the Rights of Molotov Man

Reading the title, I was wondering who Molotov man is. After Joy telling me the stories behind this picture, I thought I knew who he is. However, Susan explained that Joy was actually decontextualizing the image. She told me the true story of Molotov man.

It is quite surprising that when one image is interpreted in different way, they have different stories and the audience would have a different perspective. Basically, this leads us to thinking about the question of context. For artists, do they have to follow the original context? Is it a good idea to decontextualize it and put some new “context” to it? Personally, I think we need to first respect the original author’s copyright. If necessary, we can have both the original context and the new context at the same time. But we should let the audience be aware of it. In other words, it could be an artistic composition to create new context, but the audience has the right to know the truth.

Meanwhile, the “copyfight” really showed the power of the photo editing and the media. From these pictures, I can see their creativity. But it also leads some copyright problems that we need to think about. It is good see that both Joy and Susan are quite generous about the copyright. They did appreciate these new version of their works. Susan did not sue Joy in the end, but she still wanted to restate the real context of her photo, unwilling to betray Molotov man. That is why I think artists are responsible to tell the truth to the audience while they put their own creativity to the photo.

In short, I learned different way to interpret a mere work and became more aware of the importance of balancing the original and the creativity.

Jack’s Exercise 1: Reflection on the Machine Stops

Reflection on the Machine Stops

This book seems to be a fiction, but as machines are playing a more and more important role in the world, it is possible for the Machine to take over human society. Also, the disaster is very likely to happen.

In ancient times, the only way to communicate between humans is either to talk face-to-face or to use body languages. Written texts are created afterwards and then we have letters. People who are far away from each other can still communicate through letters, although it was slow. Nowadays, a great number of technologies have been developed for communication. From telegraph to telephone, from email to Facebook, from TV to Twitter, all have been changed greatly. These tools are all based on the same thing—the machine. Thanks to them, our lives have been a lot easier. However, we, as human beings, are more and more dependent on those machines. It is quite controversial whether the machines are serving us or controlling us, also, whether the machines are getting us closer or farther. It is not necessarily saying doubting the value of technology but it gives us a moment to think about these questions.

It is true that humans made machines, so it seems we have enough power over them. For, some people, they are making the best use of machines. Machines help them to have a better life. For them, it is totally fine to have machines with them. However, for those who are addicted to machines and cannot live without machines, they do need to pause and think about it. Sadly, I myself, right now,  am typing on a machine, and I think I do need to think about the relationship between me and the machines.

Lastly, the story might not necessarily happen but it is a warning for us, and it draws our attention to think about what a machine is and what humans made it for.