Internet Art documentation (Krom)

Link: http://imanas.shanghai.nyu.edu/~nl1647/interactiveart/

With this current project our group, which consists of members Nicole, Chris, and Ebi, strived to make a website that resembled a social media application with the intents of social commentary of how social media taking over our own personal lives through popups, and music videos. Chris was tasked with the production of the actual website and the coding, Nicole was in charge of editing the videos and I was in charge of the music production.

Initially, we had ran into many issues with the creation of the project. We had a definite direction that we wanted to go with which is creating a website with videos and music which, when put together, creates a message. However, things such as the message, the layout, the video, and our own capabilities seemed like an issue. But, through discussion we managed to stick to one idea and followed through.

I had only created lo-fi hip-hop before and that was my only genre of music. We had decided that a travel video was a must, so we had created a beat that was light-hearted. That was what I had created for the video specifically. The genre of lo-fi is usually done with a lot of sampling, so I had turned to looperman.com for free loops and found the main melody. After that I had added the drums, mixed the equalizer to give a telephone effect to the first bar of melody. For this track, I had trouble with creating something that was short in length (20sec) which also had enough feelings involved, but I had managed to create the vibe. I believe that it was important to choose the perfect melody as it is the one that will give the feeling, while the drums determine how you move to the song.

The other tracks were harder because they needed to be a different genre and I have never really tried creating a different genre especially EDM. So therefore for the “Excursion” and “Durgs” videos I had only edited two songs by Stephen Bodzin called “Catamaran” and “Zulu”. We wanted to go with something that was really minimalistic in sound for these two therefore I had cut out the first twenty seconds of each track and made it to fit the video length.

I had come to the conclusion that the “Party” video did not require any music to be added on. The video editing stage of this particular video was well done and the noise that came along with the videos edited had given a very particular sound, almost as if it were music. Therefore I had decided the “Party” video didn’t need any music.

Besides making the audio aspect of the project, we wanted the website to feel authentic as possible and because creating a whole website that resembled Facebook would be very tedious, I had went into Facebook and taken a random post, used the inspect tool in Chrome and edited the names and comments which I screenshot afterwards. Having sent the pictures to Chris, he would later place this pictures under the videos to give a feeling that people had actually commented on a post.

The contents of the post had to reflect our goal of giving commentary to the overuse of social media and it’s effects on our personal lives through materialism and looking for appeal.

Overall, I think that we did a great job and worked well as a group. The team chemistry was definitely a lot of help and it had helped us get through adversities. If we could change something from our project it would be to fully produce all the music, as it does take a lot of time to find the sound and vibe and make a quality track in a genre that I was completely unfamiliar with. Overlooking that, I’m satisfied with our final project.

 

Week 12: Response to Greene (Krom)

In Greene’s work “History of Net Art” talks about the “net.art” that was prominent during the earlier stages of the internet. “Net.art” was the period of time where people would create art in the virtual space, using code or otherwise, and posting on the internet to a wide audience. This form grew in popularity in the 90’s.

As it turns out, this concept of creating art in the virtual space and sending it off to someone halfway around the world was something that was never done before. It was a foreign concept to people and therefore with this new emergence, everyone wanted to create a piece and post for everyone to see.

“Net.art” was something revolutionary, it had given the people a voice in the world and a following much like what we have on “Instagram” and “twitter” only in art that people had created. It was accessible and efficient when it came to distribution. But like everything in life, huge corporations had seen this “free land” in the virtual space as money. They were attracted to the same attributes that made it so popular to the netizens of the world, only now, it would have a paywall or something that would involve money.

I believe that “net neutrality” was definitely something that should have taken place in this era, as from this era art and everything on the web that netizens used freely to express themselves had become a platform for the rich to monetize off of. I don’t believe that these websites, as well as other things, should be owned or controlled. We need the internet to be free, as it was supposed to be the one ‘haven’ from the ‘real world’.

Week 10: Response to Graham and Rand (Krom)

Paul Graham, in his piece “Hackers and Painters”, makes an argument that calling hackers “computer scientists” doesn’t do them justice. In fact, saying that hackers are people that constantly deal with complex equations and research papers is wrong according to him. He says that hackers are actually on par with painters in terms of creativity as they both use the tools that they have to create something new, aesthetic, and creative. The Hacker’s main job is to create software, good software that is for the people as paintings are for the viewer in the gallery.

I like how he associates the hacker with the painter by saying that he “sketches” his program by coding and I would understand that. He shows that you don’t have to be an ‘artist’ in the traditional sense in order to make art in programming. Programming itself is an art and the hacker is the artist. I think that we don’t appreciate what programmers do when they make these amazing websites for the general public to use. From online interactive comics and videos, we can see how much creativity goes into creating these pieces, validating the position of hackers in the art world.

For “Computers, Pencils, and Brushes”, Paul Rand makes an observation between Computers and art, specifically programs and creativity. He acknowledges that technology and programs have enabled for production of designs and other arts to be very smooth. However, it would seem that the usage of the programs is more important that the process of creativity nowadays.

Overall, I would say that these two texts talk about how technology could possibly be a hindrance for the creative mind. Technology is seen both ways, creativity and the production of art was seen as limited before technology came in whereas now it would seem that anyone can be an artist at the push of a button. I would say that all of this neither true nor false. Creativity is always there, and I believe that everyone should be given the chance to show what they are capable of creating. I also believe in researching art, as it gives background and really a foundation and understanding to the aspiring artists, as it acts as a sift to bring forth the best.

Interactive Video Project Documentation (Krom)

Link: http://imanas.shanghai.nyu.edu/~lk1654/week10_video_project/

For this project, our team decided that if we are going to be creating and telling a story through videos and a multi-branching story it should have some sort of suspense to it. Therefore we came up with “The Walk Home”. A summary of what the story will be about appears on the beginning screen:

On October 13, 2016 a girl named Heather Matthews disappeared on her way home from a bar. A month later her body was found in a shallow pond in a nearby park. In her last moments, she placed a frantic FaceTime call to her friend. Her phone was found near the body and the following footage was recovered.”

I was made in charge of editing the videos and generally with the post production of the videos, both the interactive and the intro videos. Lana and Sophia both were focused on the script, shooting the scenes and coding.

My whole process began with converting the videos given to me to .mp4 files. Because they were shot on an iPhone, they were uploaded in .MOV format. “www.onlinevideoconverter.com” was the site that I used to convert all the .MOV files as all the “free” programs had a paywall that I had to bypass in order to use.

After the conversion, I uploaded them to iMovies in the public computers. The reason why I used the iMovies was because it was simple to use and very efficient, not to mention that I had some prior experience. The videos itself were shot in a very dark setting, specifically streetlamp-lit streets of Shanghai, therefore it was quite hard to see the main protagonist through the iPhone cameras. After fidgeting with the hue, brightness and contrast I had reached the point where I thought it was better for the video to be in.

(Left: Before; Right: After)

As you can see, the difference is quite significant. Apart from becoming brighter it had also gained a blue hue. It had seemed to me that this way the feel wouldn’t necessarily change but it would become more easier for the viewer to see the footage.

Apart from changing the coloring of the footage, I also cropped and adjusted the videos to ‘flow’ better with each other when the user made a choice. So that meant cropping any unnecessary footage from the videos. This would allow my partners to order these videos very easily and efficiently.

The intro video was a different case. I had to take three scenes and make them one footage in iMovies. After changing the contrast, brightness I had finished the first step. Cropping the videos, I had chosen how long each of them would be, so that the intro was the right length to be a satisfying viewing that wouldn’t last too long that it would become boring. A transition was added to the three videos to give it a bit more aesthetic coherence. A major change I made to the intro video was the removal of the original sound in two of the scenes and replacing it with the soundtrack of “Dead Silence” to give it a build up to the actual story.

Editing videos had helped me gain an experience as I had to look at the wider scope of the whole project as well as the vibe and aesthetics of the whole video while editing because they all had to coherent with each other. I think that if the quality of the footage had been better and if we didn’t lose quality by converting, the end project would have been different and editing would have had a bigger effect in general. However, I believe that what we have currently is quite well-done.

Week 8: Response to Walter Benjamin (Krom)

Walter Benjamin in his work “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, discusses the idea of mass reproduction being detrimental to certain pieces of art with regards to it’s originality or ‘authenticity’. He also brings up the idea of what is called the ‘aura’ of art, which is essentially that certain art’s ability to connect with it’s viewers. To quote him specifically, he says that the aura will bring people “closer spatially and humanly”, therefore the ‘aura’ of a work of art is important. He believes that mechanical reproduction of art, will damage this aura, as it does not have any form of authenticity or originality, thus making the reproduction a very bland representation of what the art truly was meant to convey. Due to mass reproduction initially being a means to bring art to the poorer masses, he does believe that the development of the means of mass reproduction will allow for more accuracy of the initial ‘aura’. At a certain point in time, when mass produced art uses more and more modern means to produce, it will become comparable to the original. Walter says that this mass reproduction can even change the perception of the original in the eye’s of the masses, thus also giving the copy it’s own separate identity. Though the copy does not hold any value in terms of authenticity for the art critics, it can hold solid value in the eyes of the masses.

However, I personally don’t believe that mass production, no matter how well it develops and is able to imitate, can be able to show a work of art for what it truly is. Take fashion for example, in China there is an enormous industry of knock-off fashion that sells major brands for a fraction of the initial price. Although there are knock-offs that are extremely difficult to find fault in, the wearer will not be able to fully appreciate the said article of clothing, as the knowledge that it is a fake, no matter how good the quality is, will not be able to give the user full satisfaction. This goes for all forms of art as well.

Week 7: Audio Project Documentation (Krom)

Link: https://imanas.shanghai.nyu.edu/~mz2150/Audio%20Project/

For this audio project, we have decided to create a lo-fi hip-hop track, using the Erhu and Pipa in Garageband, and a podcast that gives the listener some background to lo-fi hip-hop, Erhu, and Pipa. Because for this project we will not be focusing too much on the interactivity, but rather the cohesiveness of the audio track, we decided to make the website minimal-style.

The reason why we wanted to incorporate the Erhu and Pipa is because creating an average lo-fi hip-hop track would be too simple, something anyone could, in theory, do. But by incorporating the Erhu and Pipa, we not only focus on making the these instruments cohesive with the base melody and beat, but we also make sure that these Chinese instruments do not lose their original play style.

In the previous classes, we have read a few pieces on ‘cultural appropriation’, ‘plagiarism vs sampling’, and etc. These readings have made us think that if we were to incorporate any element into our creation, we would have to retain the original play-style while also educating ourselves and the listeners on the particular elements and platforms that we are using, in this case lo-fi hip-hop and the Chinese instruments.

I was in charge of the creation, mixing, and mastering of the audio, mainly the track itself. Because I had some experience dealing with audio manipulation, I was able to quickly grasp what our team needed to do, which was using a MIDI keyboard and Garageband to create the various different instruments and beats. Dora brought her MIDI keyboard so that we can work on the creation of the track more fluidly. The MIDI keyboard essentially enables us to use any synthesizer or audio tool to manipulate sounds using the keyboard keys. This helps Dora and Adele to envision what the chord progression and music will be like, giving the whole process a much more fluid pace as both had been playing the piano for over 7 years.

After Dora brought in a MIDI keyboard, I proceeded to look into “looperman.com” and find the base melody that we would be using. On the website, I searched in the term “lofi” to find myself a specific 4-bar loop. Usually, the kind of lo-fi beat that you would hear on youtube has a very mellow vibe to it, therefore we chose one that gave us that type of feeling. Going along with the ‘moody aesthetic’, we also needed some constant rain noise for the background. We found this particular one through looperman as well.

Then, I uploaded the two tracks into Garageband and plugged the MIDI into the computer. I initiated a drum machine into the MIDI keyboard and played a very soft beat and mellow beat that suited the main melody perfectly. In order to give the main tracks the essential “lo-fi” feel to it, I initiated the “telephone vocal” onto the tracks.

We are basically done with the base track.

Now, we had to decide how to implement the Erhu and Pipa into the track. Adele and Dora did some research and found that these two instruments were meant to be played a certain way. Thanks to both Dora and Adele’s knowledge in Music theory, we were able to incorporate both the traditional and new into the two tracks created by the MIDI. Afterwards, I bounced the two tracks and made them into a wav. track so that I can freely manipulate them in Garageband. I plugged in the “telephone vocal” effect and it turned out pretty solid. Later on, we would add a bass track to the song with the recommendation from the IMA fellow Dave. We would play around with the track and make it barely audible to the listener, but make sure it was loud enough to give a slight effect.

We also edited small snippets of people we interviewed to give the whole track a certain goal, to mix modern day lo-fi hip-hop with traditional Chinese music. Once again, I applied the “telephone vocal” to give it the aesthetic.

I think we encountered a few unforeseen obstacles when we were creating this track. Because lo-fi hip-hop, in it’s current state, is a very minimalist and melancholy type of music, the Erhu and the Pipa clashed a bit with the main melody and the aesthetic, as the two instruments had either too much movement or was naturally a very high-pitched instrument. If we had more time and more knowledge on Garageband, we would have made the instuments sound more in tune and aesthetically cohesive with the base track.

Another unforeseen obstacle was the editing the bass to fit the base track. Because we cut off all the lows with the telephone vocal, the base sounded very…weird. It would not match our expectations, hence we lowered down the volume to a minimum. Once again, if we had more knowledge on Garageband, this wouldn’t have been a problem.

Although this problem was foreseen, making sure that the Chinese instruments stayed true to their natural Chinese way of playing was hard, because we essentially had to almost keep two genres of music from clashing in a single track; just copying the melody is not enough to make these instruments cohesive. I would say that making sure we do not ‘culture appropriate’ was an issue.

Overall, I would say that I’m satisfied with our team’s work, as we were able to be agree on nearly everything and we made things work to our own talents. The track could be more cohesive, but all things considered it turned out quite well.

Week 6: “The danger of a single story” Response (Krom)

“The danger of a single story” gives us the perspective of a African woman who has been a victim of stereotypes. She tells her story of how at every stage of her life, people around her (herself included) have been painted a certain image by mass media and literature. She says this is very detrimental for the identity of these people and how they are perceived by other people. I agree that this notion of a ‘single story’ truly affects people from opening up as these stories do focus on a single aspect about a certain person’s identity, often times negative aspects.

Coming from Mongolia, whenever I meet people from different walks of life and different nationalities, they often assume that Mongolian’s still ride horses and live in the traditional “Ger”. I wouldn’t say that this is entirely false as people in the countryside who are farmers still live and do these things, however, our state of development is as good as any other country in the world. Living in the city and traveling all around the world from a very young age, I have seen and experienced things that I’m grateful to have experienced. But, I feel like all these false pretenses are something that I have to face constantly.

Although I do agree with the notion that “single stories” are something that have been created to give a sense of power to other countries, I feel that sometimes these single stories are also ‘egged’ on the government and the people themselves. Mongolia’s tourism depicts an image of an amazingly clear blue sky, endless grass plains, and nomadic people riding horses and living in “ger” till this day. Perhaps these ‘single stories’ are used in a way to attract people that know no better as a cheap tourism attraction. But we as human beings should not forget that there is always a flip side to the coin, the ‘single story’ is in fact true and it is certainly is sometimes like the way they say it is, however the other side co-exists alongside this ‘story’.

Week 6: Theft and Artistry Response (Krom)

 

I don’t have a problem with cultural appropriation as long as credits are given where credits are due. It’s like plagiarism, as long as you are using somebody else’s idea, even if it is worded differently, you must give credit. However, this article mid-way says that people cannot use a culture that is not theirs because they are not from that said culture. But, we must realize that at this time and age, our societies have become interdependent on each other and this is all thanks to globalization. Globalization has, without a doubt, allowed for many innovations to come into being.

If we were to take French Montana and Swae Lee’s song “Unforgettable”, it would be hypocritical to accuse them of cultural appropriation. The reason being that the song itself is heavily influenced by African music and it is mixed with a little bit of hip-hop and due to the heavy influence of African music they filmed the music video in Africa, which in my opinion is the correct thing to do. You are basically paging homage to the culture by showing that culture in the music video.

But, before we get mad at artists such as Coldplay and Beyoncé for what they are accused of, we must understand what they were trying to achieve artistically. I’m guessing for “Hymn for the Weekend”, Coldplay was trying to give a certain feeling of mysteriousness and a sense of the spirituality and that’s why they filmed the video in India. In other words, I believe that they were trying to make the music video match the vibe that the song itself was giving off. And I believe that is the case for many different music videos in our time. By associating India with the music, it gives the location and culture a sense of feeling that will inevitably increase people’s curiosity, thus giving the culture more coverage. And I’m very sure that showing a lot of beautiful sides of the Indian culture is a way to pay homage.

Another issue about cultural appropriation is the monetization of this art that involves elements from a culture. Cultural appropriation and monetizations are a separate issue in my opinion. Monetization of cultural appropriation would be wrong I think. If a white person tried to sell me Mongolian cultural items, and tried to lecture me on what is Mongolian and what is not, I would be insulted. In the case of the video, I don’t see it as wrong. In a way it is monetization of cultural appropriation, but the message is entirely different. They’re trying to create an impacting creative visual. They’re not trying to profit off the culture directly. I think people get so nationalistic about their culture and pride and forget that in this time and age, Globalization is a thing. The inevitable merging of cultures is a by-product of Globalization.

Bottom line is this: The line for cultural appropriation is when you do not pay homage and give credit where credit is due.

Week 6: Ecstasy of Influence Response (Krom)

In this piece by Jonathan Lethem, the author argues that innovation comes from predecessors. Without the work of predecessors we wouldn’t be enjoying modern day works of art and literature. I fully agree with this statement and I believe that no two works are alike nor are they fully different. Lethem continues to talk about copyrights and he believes that copyright is too strict. He also thinks that copyrights can allow for a monopoly of something that is supposed to support innovation. By blocking knowledge with copyrights and other forms of limits, we limit the evolution and progress of future generations.

I find it strange how photographers can get away with taking photographs of people and not giving credit to that person and claim that photograph as their own with copyrights and other things. Due to the interconnectedness of mankind in a societal format, I feel that any creation made by mankind, if you are a part of society, will be viewed, edited, and given criticism by other people. Naturally, mankind can never be isolated. Therefore, limiting a person’s knowledge with copyrights and other things, will never stop people from remixing and interpreting your creation.

Although I advocate for remixing right now, who knows how I will feel when someone remixes my creation and ideas for their own. Regardless, from a utilitarianism standpoint, I would be content with people using my ideas and creations for their own, as long as it is used for developing and creating for the advancement of society.

Week 6: “On the Rights of Molotov Man” Response (Krom)

Righting a response to this reading is very tricky because there are so many different sides and positions that someone can take on this reading. However, I will be keeping my response brief.

The Molotov Man shows both sides of the coin when it comes to copyrights and ownership of creative products such as pictures and paintings. The two artists in this case is Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas. Garnett is a painter who found a cropped version of a man holding a molotov cocktail taken by Meiselas. He planned to use this painting as the forefront of an exhibition with the theme ‘Riot’. Later on, he would receive a letter from Meiselas asking to give her credit for the piece and compensation for each reprint. Garnett agreed to give her credit but refused to give her compensation. After he posted on the internet his situation, the whole internet was flooded with edited images of the man holding the molotov cocktail. These photos would later on be named “The Molotov Man” and become one of the most influential pieces of art of the modern age.

From Meiselas’s side, she explains that she felt her art was violated and taken out of context. The original picture was of a nicaraguan man fighting for freedom, and she felt that it told the tale of the man in the picture. Now that the photo has been remixed so many times, it has lost it’s original message.

Throughout the history of the world, we see many different ideas being remixed. Sometimes it will be taken out of context, other times it’s original message will be amplified. But, we do see many cases where the remixed version gains more popularity than the original piece. That is the case for the Molotov Man. When the cropped version of the photo taken by Meiselas was painted by Garnett, it’s message might have been slightly different from it’s original meaning, but it did gain much more attention by mass media. Now this “Molotov Man” has become one of the most influential pieces in the modern world. I understand how Meiselas feels about her role as a photographer and this picture that she took being taken out of context, however, the remixed version has reached more people than the original, and thus giving more people the opportunity to see the original piece if they wanted to. Art itself can be interpreted in any way, her picture was too. Either way, “The Molotov Man” is famous and now stands as a symbol of power for the general population.