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.



Larissa’s response on TED talk

I watched the TED talk about “everything is a remix” and there were several doubts. The speaker gave some examples of previous famous artists stealing others’ work. But even if artists like Bob Dylan stole others’ rhythms and lyrics, then where do the stole creativities come from? There must be people who really created and we can’t draw the conclusion that everything is stole from others. And the speaker said we couldn’t be too dependent on ourselves and don’t expect too much, does it mean we jut give up and loose our control on stealing? What’s more, is the patent law system still necessary to exist if stealing can not be prevented by it? I think the answer yes. By asking all those questions what I want to express is that there is always a boundary between creation and stealing, and we can’t ignore them because sometimes it is not obvious and say everything is essentially stealing. I think that the boundary subtly lies in our own mind because it is hard to totally claiming some ideas as theirs. Each industry has their developing process and ideas are tightly connected. Also, patent law system has limited effect because people can totally claim a stole patent as theirs then nobody can justify their ownership again. Essentially, we need to do the self-control of stealing, for example not steal too much and do some new creation based on others’ ideas. And try to lower the hurt to others’ benefits. Steve Jobs said that “Great artists steal”, but in fact people still respect people with brilliant creativities. So we need to “steal” in a way that within the moral tolerance in our heart and within industry morals, and always try to create as much as we can.

Xiaoyue’s Response to Embrace the Remix

Remix is everywhere in our lives now. Especially if you look on Youtube, you’ll be amazed by the number of remixes, many of which people actually like better than the original works.

Embrace the Remix reminds me of the discussion we had earlier about the modification of other people’s images. When people take other people’s images and photoshop them and claim the images as their own, there is the problem of infringement on intellectual property. Just as well, when remixing different sounds to create a new hearing experience, there is also the similar problem of infringement on intellectual property.

The original authors may feel offended that their hard-earned work are being manipulated and interpreted in a different way than they intended to. But sound is somehow a even greyer area than images. Because the modification of sound can make it almost irrecognizable.

My stand on this issue is that remix is cool as long as the original authors are given due credits. The remix artist must make it clear what sources of sound he is taking from. In the case of The Grey Album, it is made extremely clear, even from its name, that this album is a remix of the Black Album and the White Album.

Then here comes the problem: if the original author is not okay with the remix artist remixing his/her work with someone else’s, does the original author have the right to terminate the production of the remix?

I am conflicting very much on this issue. However, I am thinking that as long as the remix artist clearly gives credit to the original author and acknowledge their contribution (unless the original author does not want to be recognized), he/her should have the right to use the whatever previous work other artists have done to create a new piece of work. The Grey Album sounds really good and is true genius. We would hate having to miss genius like this. Also, the Grey Album, to some extent, enlarged the influence of the original The Black Album and The White Album. Otherwise, I might not hear about them for my life. I am not suggesting that this is what every author desired for themselves. However, these are accomplishments in the history of arts for human. We should hinder such accomplishment to the minimum degree while protecting individual intellectual property rights.


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!

Xiaoyue, Dongning and Helen’s Sequential Imaging Assignment and Reflection

Growing up Fast

Growing up Fast



After deciding the basics of the story with my group members, I started trying to draw out the figures with a tablet. Drawing with a tablet is really very hard and time-consuming because it takes time to get used to it. But it was also very interesting for me, especially because I have long been passionate about drawing and sketching.

My work and Helen’s overlapped a little. I adjusted the images in the panels and wrote the words in the speech bubbles and titles. I also applied the stroke to one of the panels. I cleaned up the images and erased some unneeded edges.

After the class discussion, I took the many pieces of advice we acquired from our fellow students and Professor.

I increased the distance between the vertical panels and decreased the distance between the horizontal pieces to better indicate the sequence in which the readers should read the comics. I adjusted the size of the speech bubbles and made the bubbles in the first panel extend a little out of the first panel towards the second one so as to create a natural instinct for the reader to continue reading the second panel. I changed the font size so that the words are not squeezed together.

I cleaned out some waste layers and clearly separated the different objects. I made sure no two objects are on the same layer.

I added in the standing Daddy Shark who marked the height of his son and colored him.

I made the coral reefs blend in more with the ground in the first panel. I made the coral reefs in the last panel exceed the height of the panel to add to the contrast and make it easier for readers to understand the logic of the story.

I dramatized a little the growth of the size of the Baby Shark and make him swim a little outward from his Daddy as he grow up to symbolize the process of growing up and becoming independent.

I also changed the color of the speech bubbles and made them consistent with one another and not transparent.

The main take-away from this project, apart from all the fun we had, is that it is important to understand that the readers may not comprehend the comics in the same way as the authors do. We need to give more hints to point to the reader where we would like them to go next. But just as “Understanding Comics” the guy said, “But I can only point the way. I can’t take you anywhere you don’t want to go”. We need to take the readers’ many different sets of minds into consideration.


It is pretty interesting for me, a manga fan, to create a comic with others. The assignment reminded me of a series of comics called “Father and Son” created by a German cartoonist. In each of this series, he uses four slices to tell a funny story that happened between a father and a son, talking about something on education. Xiaoyue and Helen agreed with my idea and decided to make a story between a shark father and a shark son. I think this just shows our improvement based on a “remix” of ideas. This is why after watching the video “Everything is a remix”, I feel familiar with the idea the video brings to us.

Besides, I was responsible for looking for backgrounds and adding color to the shark and coral as well. I used to believe that backgrounds should be beautiful pictures. Not until Helen added the sharks and corals to the pictures did I realize that the backgrounds with too much content might cover the main characters of the picture. It is quite easy to add color when I selected the sharks and use the paint bucket. Though at first I tried to fill everywhere in the shark with grey color, I finally stopped doing that as I feel some blue in it didn’t look bad.



Basically I chose half of the background pictures, blurred them and added adjustment layers of level, hue and photo filter. Then I designed the layout and made every panel into the same size and applied stroke. Then the hardest part came. I put the drawings into panels, a lot of command+T, and added shape ( talk1 and starburst ). I set blending options of the headline and “WHY?!”. I found a pattern as a background and also pattern overlay of “FAST”. After critique I resized the baby shark in the third panel to highlight the contrast and erased something that shouldn’t be appearing.

Thanks to the joint effort, we’ve managed to carry out our conception smoothly. It’s really wonderful to see the real scene combined with 2D paintings without any awkwardness. Every one has done a significant part. I trust my group members more.

Something I learnt from class is that, most importantly, we should make ourselves clear and understood, in other words, not confuse readers. So the connections between each panel and the picture itself really matter. In last class many students commented that they couldn’t understand the story, which should definitely be avoided. Second, bubbles and fonts can directly affect the emotion and reaction of readers. Third, the size of the panel should be arranged accordingly. Last, colors usually have stronger impact.

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.




How much can we remix?

It is quite true that “everything is a remix”. As in Isaac Newton’s famous remark, we are standing on the shoulder of a giant. Everything we know now are originally based on the facts found by our ancestors. Therefore, no matter what we “created”, it is an improvement depending on a remix of different ideas and knowledge.

“Remix” does not simply mean to put different ideas together. Something new should be created during such process. When people borrow some ideas from other’s works, it is often called “reference”. Like “Avatar” and “Transformers”, the movies mentioned in the video, they shows a lot of brand new ideas of the directors, telling a new story with unique ways, like using a special language created only for the movie. However, at the same time, some parts of the movies are kind of familiar to people who watch the movies because the movies are using similar plots that have already been used in other works. As the directors are not simply “copying” the plots, such behavior is acceptable. However, someone like Yu Zheng, a director in China famous for his plagiarism, should not be forgiven. He simply takes ideas from many writers’ works, putting them together as well as few ideas from his own, and calls the “copy” work his “art”. If this happens everywhere, how can we get new ideas?

Nevertheless, there should be a constrain on how large the pieces of things that are remixed, that is, from each piece of idea, how much we can take from it. I once heard about a law indicating that if a new work has a specific percentage of similarity to an old work, it is called plagiarism. Thus even if we admit that everything is just a remix of existing things, how much it stands on an old work should be limited.

Embrace the Remix Response

Whilst I agree with Kirby Ferguson’s overall idea that “Everything is a Remix”, there are some specifics that he goes into that I’m not sure about. He talks about films, for example, being concocted with the use of various other mediums as inspiration, and it brings about the question of what art is. Where do we draw the line between original work and “covers” of other people’s work? I feel like this is a huge grey area, which might take more than a paragraph to discuss. On another note, when Ferguson talks about Steve Jobs’ comment about Picasso’s saying, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal” in 1996, then his changed comment in 2010 that he’s “going to destroy Android because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this”, and also talks about Obama – “In 2011 ACTA was signed by President Obama, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, currently being written in secret, aims to spread even stronger US-style protections around the world,” and “Of course, when the United States itself was a developing economy, it refused to sign treaties and had no protection for foreign authors” – I wonder what Ferguson is really trying to relay: What exactly is he trying to convey by pointing out the hypocrisy of others? And then, on yet another note, the time period between both of Steve Jobs’ comments is 14 years. 14 years of changing generations and technology and progress. Times change. And so do people’s opinions; we evolve as a whole. So how credible is it to use these comments side by side?

Helen’s Response to The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism and Embrace the Remix

Strictly saying, nothing is created on our own.

All sci-fi movies are just a combination of certain elements. I was very impressed by dozens of movies scenes the second video demonstrates. Some of them are so similar. But isn’t that a plagiarism? And why are they still Hollywood blockbuster?

All inventions are based on former discovery. Newton stood on the shoulders of giants (which I know is a sarcasm toward Hooke, but, anyway). Lifetime is too short to accomplish something until someone has got some groundwork or fundament. But thinking of intellectual property, is it true that the final scientist possess all? Or somehow he should thank to pioneers of that field?

All literatures are discussing one ultimate topic. Some may even have the same story. In the case of Lolita in the reading, does it really matter that [whether Dabokov adopt Lichberg’s tale consciously? Or whether the earlier tale exists for Nabokov as a hidden, unacknowledged memory? Or whether Nabokov, knowing Lichberg’s tale well perfectly, had set himself to that art of quotation that Thomas Mann, himself a master of it, called “higher cribbing”]?

I would say no. By copying, transformation and combination, we remixed a better new piece. Perhaps we changed our thesis or focus; perhaps we changed our way of depiction; perhaps we changed all but the structure. So much evidence has proved the claim that everything is a remix.

But I would like to talk more about our attitude and the degree, or how far is too far. One couldn’t just adopt something without understanding its original purpose and ideas regardless of that whether he is to further the main idea or to make it seen through a totally different lens. This answers the second set of questions I raised. A Nobel Prize for Chemistry winner can’t neglect others’ help and effort despite that they are not on the list. Anyone who has contributed to his idea and thought should be remembered. That’s the reason why the society and the technology advance.

The degree problem is rather complicated. First, we ought to admit that a similar movie scene is not a serious problem. There’re no more scenes in real life. And they may even be the source materials that every director major student will learn in class. Then, is Bob Dylan’s music allowed? I don’t think it’s a totally new song piece but it’s a totally new and successful remix. He merges his own thought and emotion in it, paying enough respect. People enjoy it. It’s good enough for a song and a folk singer. But it did affect the sales volume of his rivalry. I hold neutral views because someone is loyal to origin version while others prefer innovation. So, where to draw the line? (Jacko has mentioned the question in response to the Molotov Man.) As far as I’m concerned, if the piece exceeds the old one or find another value, it is fine to adopt something. By contrast, if someone, especially small company, just wants to make use of the fame of the original one and borrow some features and create a really annoying and meaningless copy, it is absolutely wrong. There’s a very silly TV series in China called Love Apartment, in which I can see every hilarious plot are copied from popular American TV sitcom.

Another interesting thing I noticed is the loss aversion. It seems natural for human that even Steve Jobs cannot escape from this. He first claims that “good artists copy great artists steal”, but after Android has taken up the market for a little bit, he is angry and he wants to destroy Android because “it’s a stolen product”. Human are selfish and seldom realize their wrong opinions. Therefore we should be willing to give as well as take.

Another even more interesting thing I found is that three materials have covered so many examples in common! Bob Dylan, Steve Jobs, intellectual property, all of which further prove their assumption- admit it that everything, even every passage aiming to persuade readers same idea, is a remix!