reflection on Nature


The final animation allows me to integrate whatever I have learned during the semester in one project – photoshop, sound, premier and after effects. Having a clear idea about what I want to present to the audience, I decide to do the project by myself this time.

At first I planed to do an animation about environmental crisis using Chinese painting. I intended to use ink as a metaphor for pollution. After I found many beautiful paintings of nature, however, I changed my mind because I don’t really want these beautiful images to be polluted. I therefore simplified my plan and decided to demonstrate the harmony of nature and animals instead.

I photoshoped pictures that I found online, separated them from original context and put different parts into separate layers. The main functions I use to animate static images are key frames, position, rotate, scale, transparency and mask. I also tried camera tracing, expression and simulation to make some effects. I edited my background music and After Effect compositions in Premier to make sure that the main movement and the beat will fit.

The result turned out to be very satisfying. Marianne and my friend Jane helped me a lot in technical questions. I really appreciate their help! Many many thanks to them!

Sita Sings the Blues Reflection

In Sita Sings the Blues, there are three layers of narrative – Sita’s legend, outsiders’ comment on Sita’s story and the author’s own experience of breaking up with her boyfriend. The author employed different styles of drawing to separate the three layers; and in each layer the painting style is also varied to differentiate the narrator. For example, in Sita’s story, the author uses realistic, Indian classical drawing style in the objective narrative, whereas in the music part where Sita sings her own feeling, we see simplified and modern drawing lines. It reminds me of some Bollywood movies in which the songs and dances are weaved into the feature films. Usually these songs and dances have little to do with the development of the plot, but they are serviceable transitions between huge plot changes in Indian-featured movies. I like the music in Sita Sings the Blues. “Rama is right”, the adaption of “Apple Round, Apple Red”, is especially ironic. It suggests her stance in the story Ramayana and her broken relationship. I think I can learn a lot from the author’s employment of different painting style and music in terms of distinguishing the narrator and emotional change.

Response to Embrace the Remix

“Everything is a remix, and I think it’s a better way to conceive creativity”. With this bold assertion, Kirby Ferguson elaborates that copying is an essential step before we can actually create something innovative, either in arts, technology or social science. The procedure of “copy – transform – combine” is the very process all people must experience in order to create their own voice. Creative laps don’t come from nowhere; instead, big innovations (Ford Model T, World-Wide-Web, Mactonish, etc.) are all natural, inevitable results after the small components are invented. The proper transformation and combination, or remix can also be titled creation.

Hollywood movie can be a typical example of this kind of remix. As Ferguson claimed, “transforming the old into the new is Hollywood’s greatest talent”. Every genre of film has its common practices the origin of which is immemorial. The success of a film largely depends on the way that these common practices are combined rather than the creation of some brand new scenarios. Star Wars is a milestone in sci-fi genre, but even the most classical scenes in it benefits from the preceding movies. In fact, the majority of us are so “creation-averse” that we merely appreciate the products that move only a small step forward. Those truly revolutionary, epoch-marking inventions, however, are usually not recognized as awesome creations by the time. Then, we will find that those so-called creations that belong to our own time are almost all remix, for that the genuine innovations are left for the next epoch to acknowledge and praise. The case of Bruno is a good illustration. Compared to the remedy to the geocentric theory that was considered as excellent creation in his time, the heliocentric theory proposed by Bruno was regarded as nonsense and never seriously treated by the scholars at that time. Hundreds years passed when his theory was finally proved to be truly extraordinary. Rare as genuine innovations are, they indeed exist in some obscure corners of our time. Innovation entails two steps to be accomplished: first is to be created, and the second is to be conceived. We feel that all creations in our age are only remixes exactly because remix is the only form of creation that we can conceive.



response to Understanding Comics

The first four chapters of Understanding comics talk about the history of comics, look into its future and introduce some technical skills such as the masking effect, closure and the shape of panels. For me, chapter two the vocabulary of comics is the most intriguing one. In this chapter the author explains why comics are so popular: humans, as a self-centered species, can always see themselves in the adventure of the simplified characters. Readers tend to feel more engaged in the hero’s adventure when the background is as rich as possible and when the character is simplified. This rule, also known as the “masking effect” which has been widely adopted in many comics, becomes a key element for the success of comics.

I like his theory a lot. I kind of see the future of comics following his premise that comics should be a kind of art and the significance of “audience involvement” . Like any variety of art, no matter it is literature, painting or music, the sense of audience involvement is emphasized a lot. As time passes and this form of presentation is gradually acknowledged as a kind of art, the creative expression of the author’s feeling will be more important and audience involvement becomes more passive. Just think about the change from classical oil painting to modern abstract painting and the change from realistic novel to post-modern fiction. At present stage, audience involvement, as McCloud endorses, is probably the most important thing that a cartoonist must consider. But later the narration will be less intuitive and more flexible, and the audience will have to read it seriously in order to understand. There will also remain lots of “easy” comics of relaxation, though.

response 2 Xiaoyu

This article focuses on the copyright of the photography. Joy Garnett, the artist who used Susan Meiselas’s photography image in his painting, wondered to what extent should the author of a documentary photography have the right to control the content of his or her work. The main mission of a photo, for Joy, is to record the social or historical value of an event. Since Joy didn’t want to take advantage of the social or historical value of Susan’s photo (in fact he decontextualized the image from its historical narrative consciously), he failed to see any significance to give the credit to Susan.

Susan, on the other hand, believed that copyright served to protect the characters in the photo instead of the social or historical value of the photo itself. Here I agree with her. The original author of a photo has the responsibility to protect the “individuality” of the people they photographed. They are performing their obligation to the image in their work while enjoying the copyright of leasing permission. The original author should have the copyright not because he or she owns the right to the motolov man’s struggle. Instead, the copyright is just a reminder that we owe respect for the man’s struggle.

Exercise 1 Xiaoyu

Will the machine be the god?

The scene in the book The Machine Stops where all humans live underground under the control of the Machine reminds me of the Matrix. The Machine in this book symbolizes ideology, through which we feel connected with the world but we will then never get to know what the reality is. The instilled ideology taught us what to desire, and we feel happy and satisfied by getting what we desire. The majority of us, like Vashti, are satisfied by such kind of satisfaction while only few people seek the plain reality like Kuno. This is very similar to the well-known plot of the Matrix.

I’m also interested in why the author chooses the machine as the metaphor. I guess it is because a future dominated by the machine instead of human is quite around the corner. The speed at which the machine evolves is much higher than that of human. From the first Industrial Revolution to the IT Revolution, less than two hundred years have passed. Think about how long it takes for us to evolve from an anthropoid to human. We humans have barely changed over the one hundred years while the machine is experiencing severe directional selection. And in nature, selection means evolvement. In Erewhon, Samuel Butler worries that we will finally become the reproductive organ of the machine someday, just like what bees mean to the flower. That is the best supposition for human – we will become a part of a more advanced creature, instead of being washed out from the cruel natural selection. If it comes a day when the capacity of the Machine is much more advanced than humans, the Machine then is literally a kind of god, like what we means to an ant’s destiny. And the day is coming irresistibly.