Week 14: Final Net Art Project Documentation (Leon & Nimrah) – Jo

Project Partner: Ellen Yang
Description: The demands of a busy and fast-paced student life can stress out even the best of us and no one is immune to stress. So, Ellen and I decided that it would be fun and helpful to create a free and accessible website to help de-stress users. We figured users don’t need to take huge chunks of their days to relax/de-stress as only a couple of minutes would be more than enough to remove temporary stress or anxiety users may feel without disconnecting from the Internet. Our website is here to help people meditate and temporarily forget about the responsibilities without stressing out which is the case for many students who stress themselves out more by avoiding responsibilities/wasting time doing nothing or scrolling up and down mindlessly on social media.
Our website is simple and user-friendly as with the home page, the user can scroll down and click on one of the three displayed locations in order to experience each location. We focused on sounds typically to help the user meditate and let the user create a paradise of their own in addition to the image we provided. I personally believe that I become satisfied and calm as I listen to the sounds of nature so that’s why we provided different audios for each location and volumes as well. The user can choose to lower or higher the volume of each different audio on their preference. Additionally, we have created one animation feature for each location: rain for the rainforest, moving bubbles as the user moves around the mouse, and seagulls that follow the mouse. Lastly, we have added a mini thoughts chat box in which the user will be able to type in their current thoughts and vent without worrying about anyone seeing it in the future. In order to provide assurance, we made sure the typed text would disappear within a few seconds.
Process/Development:  Initially, Ellen and I decided to do our project on the topic of technology and its impacts on society, specifically regarding how technology could have saved lives in Syria or North Korea. I wanted to show the perspective of a North Korean refugee but from the feedback we received, we decided to resort to creating a totally new website. Following the feedback during recitation, we struggled for a few days deciding on our new idea. However, we FINALLY were able to agree on creating a de-stressing website in honor of Finals Week ahead of us at the time. At first, we were going to have three different locations around the world, mainly big cities but Leon gave us an idea to do landscapes for a better, soothing experience, so we agreed on doing the beach, rainforest, and underwater.
We first sketched the layout of all of our potential pages and started our code for the main page and choices. For the title of the homepage, I added the most calm photo I could find and added a mini css animation in the background of the title. Then, I added a mini scroll icon at the bottom of the home page to create a easier auto scrolling feature. For the choices page, we utilized gifs so that when the user hovers over the choices, there would be live paradises to help the user imagine. For the rain location, I tried to find a way to add a raining effect on the image and ended up using a png image of rainfall and created the animation with only CSS. As for the beach page, Ellen and I really struggled to create a wave effect using P5 so we resorted to just adding seagulls to follow the mouse. For the underwater page, we initally wanted to make the fish moves but we also failed to do that as well after countless tries so we again resorted to creating moving bubbles following the mouse. For adding the volumes, we used the three color sliders we learned in class as reference to implementing audio/volume. After MAJOR struggles, with the help of Jiwon, we were finally able to set volume and sound so that all the audios would play at once but the user would be able to adjust the volume sounds to lower or higher using the sliders. Additionally, from the feedback we got from our fellow classmates from user testing, we decided to add one more interaction to create a better/effective stress relief experience. We added a thoughts text box in which the user would be able to type and enter/send in any worries or thoughts they have and watch it disappear to reassure the user that no one would ever have access to it. We thought that this would effectively create an even more soothing experience for the user.
 Summarize: Challenges/Lessons/Improvements
In conclusion, I enjoyed working on this website out of all the websites we have created throughout the semester, mainly because Ellen and I worked on almost each of the parts together rather than splitting it up. Although our website seemed so simple when we were finished, it was unfortunate to think that we actually struggled countlessly using new functions as well as managing time throughout Finals week. I would have to say that I struggled most with the volume sliders as my chrome and firefox refused to display or even play the audio. So, even if the numerous code trials were correct, it was impossible to know whether it was my fault or the computer’s. Additionally, the autoplay was not working either and I learned from Jiwon that this was in connection to the web’s new “law” that they are trying implement to not allow autoplay due to it somehow ruining the user experience. We also struggled for a few days trying to create a moving waves effect for the beach landscape using P5 but it was so difficult making it look natural as well as for the fish for the underwater landscape. In terms of what could have been changed or added, was the title for the audios as well as the background along with the mouse that we worked on but could not utilize. The code had already been completed but we unfortunately could not add it. Implementing all these initially planned ideas did not go as planned but I am still satisfied with our end result. Although, we were not fully capable of creating the desired website due to our limited coding skills, I learned so much throughout the process. I am more than happy and satisfied to leave this class and Shanghai as well knowing that I was able to fully incorporate Photoshop, Audacity, CSS, Javascript, P5, and html in one project. I am so grateful for the enormous help Jiwon, Leon, Nimrah, Dave, and JAck have provided.

Week 10 “Web Work: A History of Internet Art” (Leon & Nimrah)

Date: April, 19, 2018
The internet has become a canvas to millions of ideas and is more alive than ever and it’s upsetting to think that prior to this Communications Lab course, I have never considered Internet art to exactly be a real art form. After reading this piece as well as other prior pieces we have read throughout this semester, I realize now that I will leaving this course with a different, fresh perspective on Internet art and well-informed of how greatly web history has evolved over time. Net art provides space for infinite amount of possibilities, interpretations, and openness, however, I cannot help but raise my concern over the current issue with net neutrality as Greene mentions, “behind the playful parody of über-corporate news filter CNN was a growing concern that the Internet would soon be colonized by mainstream media and the corporate juggernaut.” The internet was designed to be a public space for sharing and interchanging creativity and it’s worrying to see how it’s becoming more and more threatened despite its original purpose of creation.

Week 10: Final Internet Art Proposal (Leon & Nimrah) – Jo

Final Internet Art Proposal
Partners: Ellen and Jaime
April 18, 2018

As we were discussing technology and its impacts on society, we started to delve further into this topic on how it’s made an impact globally. We thought about how maybe technology could have saved lives and we started to think of the many global issues around the world today. We began to think of the Syrian refugee crisis as well as North Korean refugees and how technology, specifically smartphones could have made a significant impact on the lives of those who have successfully escaped. For this project, we decided to make a video and show from the perspective of a North Korean refugee but more specifically on how his/her smartphone would maybe look like if they were in possession of one as we utilize and show through apps such as whatsapp, maps GPS, compass, weather, etc.. We are still deciding how we would make this video and website interactive.

Week 10: Response to “Hackers and Painters” and “Computers, Pencils, and Brushes.” (Leon & Nimrah) – Jo

1. “Hackers and Painters” by Paul Graham
2. “Computers, Pencils, and Brushes”
This read gives the readers an interesting observation into the similarities between the hacker’s meticulous and detailed mind and the painter’s loose and laid-back intuition. Graham argues that hackers are more like painters rather than mathematicians as coders need to try and generate their own concepts just like the great painters who produce their own piece. He explains how he was taught to write his code on paper first, and move it over to a computer only after it was perfected. He soon realized that when he took a painter’s approach and started coding on the computer and adjusted problems as he went, the final outcome was superior. I have always perceived coding to be computational and never even thought about it coming near the realm of the arts. Prior to reading this read and taking Communications Lab, I have always been afraid of the concept of coding and have always regarded hacking to be a form of monotonous science rather than art, but now do I realize that hackers, too create “beautiful” software just like painters create art. It’s disappointing to realize that hackers are regarded as implementors rather than designers due to companies turning hackers into robots, robbing their thoughts and introspections. I believe that our society needs to start giving more freedom to hackers and programmers to implement their own designs into code as it will make way for further innovation and thus, move closer to becoming an art form.
With Rand’s Computers, Pencils, and Brushes, he argues that computers merely serve as tools for creation and omitting the process of drawing by hand will debilitate people’s abilities and call for a loss of essence in the work.
Walter Benjamin comes to mind as I definitely think that there really is something that we will never be able to obtain on the computer. As artists create with pencils and brushes, there is emotion, influence, and the “aura” that comes with it that the machine will never possess. However,  I believe that although the computers provides tools to allow for quicker completion of technical tasks, the skills required to create art are still great and not everyone is capable of doing it. As much as the process and aura is important, I still believe that the main important thing of an art piece is the idea behind it. I believe that this is attainable with both traditional and contemporary tools. Moreover, with computer based art, I believe that we can lead the way in inspiring new experimentation and forms.

Week 9: Interactive Video Project (Leon & Nimrah)

Project Group: Saloman Ruiz and Kaitlin
Description: Following several changes to our original idea, our group finally agreed upon basing our project around the message of pursuing one’s dreams despite the obstacles and discouragement, especially from those close to you. We decided on the main character to be a painter who has always been disapproved and prevented from pursuing art. Tayla, the main character is struggling as she deals with constant prevention from achieving her goal of attending her dream art university. From the beginning, she is trying to complete her art piece for her portfolio application submission and throughout the process, she recalls all the hurtful and discouraging moments she had struggled with prior to her decision to apply. She recalls scenes with her parents, best friend, and counselor through each object she comes across while she paints. The first scene is followed by the paint brush dropped and shows the flashback of an outburst of her parents catching her privately painting when she was to be studying and snatching away her equipment. Following this first scene, the video then returns back to the main video of Tayla in the process of still painting her submission piece but it then proceeds to the next scene with her best friend as she gets water on the photo frame with her best friend. The second scene is her best friend telling Tayla that she only wants the best for her as she proceeds to tell Tayla that an art university is impractical. In the final scene as a hall pass falls out as she holds up her sketchbook, she recalls the time she visits her school advisor to discuss her future plans.
Initially, our group decided to go with the idea of revealing the negative effects of ethnic stereotyping. Following the recent TED talk video, “The Danger of a Single Story,” we wanted to show that we should abstain from settling for the single story of individuals as we show the negative effects through two perspectives, the labelers and the victim. However, throughout the first week of brainstorming, we made several changes to our idea and finally settled with the idea of basing our project on theme of achieving one’s goals despite the hardships throughout the process of pursuing it.
To start off, we created a storyboard, as we learned from class that utilizing a storyboard would make for a smooth shooting. Our group decided to divide the storyboard sketches as Kaitlin was in charge of the parent scene, Salomon did the counselor, and I did the best friend. For my storyboard, I initially had sketched the scenes for our original idea of the effects of stereotyping but Kaitlin improvised during filming as we changed our entire idea as well as the filming location.
As for the website design, I started off by creating a basic set up for our website and then Salomon and I proceeded to do the actual code for javascript. We planned to pause the video at each moment she comes across each object in the videos, and to make it so that the object’s border would be highlighted and glowing to indicate that it is clickable. So we screenshot the last second of the video in order to create a photoshopped image of the object’s border glowing so that the user would be able to click it in order to proceed to the flashback scenes. As for the photoshop images, I really only mainly used the paint brush tool to create a border around the objects and also utilized the opacity tool to create a glowing look for the objects. Then, we added borders to the videos and instead of using pop up windows as our original plan, we decided to make it so that it would be within the same tab. We changed our codes and changed the background to a splashed paint image in order for it to fit more to the idea of the project, added a cool paint style font for our title(with the help of Jiwon), and included tape to each corner of our video for aesthetic purposes. Additionally, we added a black background for the center video since the video initially didn’t fill in as there were small gaps in between. Below, I will show our original code, final code, rough draft website photo, and final website photo.
Summarize– Challenges/Lessons/Improvements: The challenges we definitely faced as a group was the main idea for our story as we struggled for a few days really deciding on the whole idea development. We struggled to plan out an idea so that it would be interactive. In terms of the code, we struggled with trying to figure out how to make the object’s border to glow. Initially we were trying to make the video to be paused midway in order for the users to click on the object and resume that same video to continue but we did not know how to so we settled on using the simpler method of just using a poster attribute. Prior to the final method however, we did at one point use the overlay method over the video but that was a complete fail. Moreover, the day before the project presentations, our group members learned some new CSS properties from Jiwon when we went to go visit her for help during recitation time. We learned how to add our own downloaded fonts from an external website as well as adding tape to the corners of the video to make them slanted and transparent. In conclusion, as our guest commentators mentioned, I would include additional scenes and choices for the user in order to make it a bit more interactive as I do agree that our project could have been a bit more interactive. I would also like to make the objects that are clickable to make glow when the mouse is hovered over to make it more user friendly instead of just an already photoshopped image.

Week 8- Final Audio Project (Leon & Nimrah) – Jo

With smartphones playing an integral role in our daily lives, our preoccupation with our devices intrudes on our time spent building meaningful connections as well as vital social skills. So, Kaitlin and I wanted to emphasis the importance of disconnecting to connecting and keeping a mindful balance between the time we use our phones and the time we spend with friends/family for our audio project. Throughout our audio, we attempted to best portray how portable devices are killing the very art of conversation as it decreases the quality of what we talk about amongst each other as well as the connections.
As we decided on the idea of disconnect to connect, I suggested we would do our final scene in the kitchen during dinner time as I believed that was when I would have the most engagement with my friends. At first, we inevitably thought of how the display would look and Kaitlin came up with the idea of having four iPhones with 4 different audios. The iPhone was our main image in order to help signify the conversation.
Our project was going to include a two part script in which in the first part, we were going to show my lack of engagement with Kaitlin as I would be constantly distracted by my phone while she would cook and the second part was going to be a conversation in which I would “disconnect to connect” and engage in a deep/meaningful conversation with Kaitlin. I started to gather all the sounds for the four scenes at a mall cafeteria, gym, subway, as well as the kitchen background and texting sounds. Kaitlin ended up writing the first part of the script and I wrote the second part.

However, after Kaitlin’s conversation with Leon the very next day, we changed our minds and decided to resort to only using Kaitlin’s script due to the second conversation as well as the other 3 iPhones seeming unnecessary and messy. With only one iPhone, we believed that we would be able to best get our message through to the audience. With our one main iPhone scene, we thought it would be best to try to include a ordinary yet overlooked conversation set in a kitchen scene with background cooking, texting, and music sounds.
Next, because Kaitlin had already worked on the html as well as the photoshop, I was responsible for Audacity. Although Kaitlin had gathered most of the sound effects for our background, I had re-recorded some such as the chopping vegetables, gas stove, camera shutter sound, typing sound, as well as the frying pan for more sound enhancement and began creating the final audio. I genuinely had so much fun recording the sounds as my friend, Lauren and I were actually obligated to cook and it made me enjoy this process. I would have to say my favorite recordings are the snapchat dog filter as well as the gas stove sounds. My friend had a stove with knobs that really helped emphasis the switch sounds turning on and off which would help with the audience visualizing the background cooking process.
As for teaching myself Audacity, I would have to say that it was a bit confusing at first but after watching youtube videos, I was able to really familiarize myself with it. Many of the things throughout the process were quite tedious but I personally really enjoyed playing around with Audacity. All of the tools were pretty straightforward with moving the audio clippings, cropping, volume controlling, amplifying, and etc. The thing I worked most on would be on our voice recordings and the music as when we recorded it in the recording room at school, Kaitlin’s voice volume turned out to be too low so I had to readjust all the sounds in order for her voice volume to level out with mine.
As for the music, I had to also readjust different parts of the audio and mainly for the part towards the end which was originally much louder than the rest of the audio. 
Following the audio part, the last step was including the audio on our website and trying to make the audio clip play on click while the play button on the iPhone image would be clicked. At first, I kept thinking that this would difficult due to it being an image instead of the button we learned in class. I tried so many times on javascript but I still couldn’t figure it out so I went to Jiwon and ended up easily figuring it out. This is what I ended up doing.

Through this audio project, I was able to obtain new audio editing skills as well as an appreciation for these faint sounds that I have always ignored. Although, this audio project turned out better than I had anticipated, I agree with Leon’s comment about how it could have been better if we were to extend our conversation. I’m thinking that we should have maybe used our second part script. 

Week 8- Reading Response to Chimamanda Adichie’s The Danger of a Single Story(Leon & Nimrah) – Jo

Adichie begins the talk with how reading a myriad of children’s literature has unlocked her understanding on how all cultures could be depicted and goes on to her main point on how a single story could discourage our conceptions of other people. She goes on to make points regarding generalizations that are universal as they are ongoing issues in the world and I believe that they are more in existence than ever before as a result of social media and its misconceptions thus creating stigma, ignorance, and stereotypes. I remember watching this Ted Talk a while back and remember being so shocked by everything she had said. It makes me think of my two study abroad experiences in the past as well as my current one right now in Shanghai and experiencing all the opposites of the same stereotypes I have heard from many sources. Unfortunately, all we really have is our perception of a group of people or a single story as she says when we study abroad whether they are true or not due to our prior inability to experience it ourselves. However, this is exactly where we would have to make things right by refraining from accepting stereotypes and letting ourselves open up to the truth of the reality.  I agree with Adichie’s long for people abstaining from settling for the single story as I believe that we should allow the single story to only serve as a foundation to seek far beyond it in order to “empower and humanize” as she expresses.

Week 7- Response to Theft & Artistry (Leon & Nimrah)

In the recent years on social media, I’ve noticed that there are still so many misunderstandings regarding important topics on cultural appropriation. It is getting to the point in which it’s so frustrating to see so many people who still cannot understand or acknowledge that there is clearly a difference between cultural appreciation and appropriation. I understand cultural appropriation to be when a minority’s culture elements are taken, distorted, and misrepresented as cultural appreciation is when people actually take the time to learn, understand and respect the cultural as well as representing it respectfully. But the tricky part comes in when someone who is Asian American, for example, grows up in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. The question is, would he/she not be permitted to be influenced by the Hispanic neighborhood which includes the Hispanic community’s habits or mannerisms such as the way of dressing, talking, acting, and etc? How can that person be responsible or be at fault for being influenced by his/her community? How can we really differentiate from what is fine to what is not. I believe that these gray areas are really a matter of degree as there is no credible line rule we can apply. There are no particular set of features that clearly differentiate between acts that appropriate unfairly and fairly. In my opinion, I think that instead of trying to draw a fixed line, it’s really important to take individual acts and examine them in their context. We should communicate with people who can be affected and consider the function of our behavior in the context of the broader culture.  Honestly, I still don’t understand how to go about this topic every time I am approached with this.

Week 6: Reading Response (Leon & Nimrah) – Jo

Similar to Ferguson’s lecture, Lethem introduces various examples of how curators use the ideas inspired by other curators to form new art and asserts that plagiarism is not indeed really plagiarism. Lethem’s piece is not necessarily a defense for infringement but it is more so an observation of influence. I concur with Lethem as every single work is influenced by something else, either from their surroundings or previous works. He explains his reasoning by providing numerous examples of how artists make use of the influence from others to produce new artworks in various different forms of art. He strongly asserts that the interchanging and utilization of ideas helps to drive new and better enhanced ideas to be generated and thus promote further innovation. He talks about how copyright infringement laws stops people from being inspired and I fully agree with him in that if people start to cooperate and exchange ideas rather than concentrating on whose ideas are whose, there will be further progress and developments to a greater extent. I have also always had a positive thought on copyright infringement as it being a well thought out and organized law to solely protect individuals’ works but I am afraid I am starting to understand that it is the result of monetary concern in order to safeguard people’s personal gains. I have also had a very negative opinion towards people who plagiarize but plagiarism is a part of our everyday life. We all take part in it everyday. Furthermore, in Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas’ article of “On the Rights of Molotov Man: Appropriation and the Art of Context” also talk about plagiarism. I want to say that I am all for people using other people’s artworks and remixing it to create their own mashup, but when people are arguing and fighting over possession over an image of a struggling man, worries me. It’s nice to see that Meisalas and Garnett were inspired by the Molotov Man, but for them to think it’s about their photography and the painting and not the person and his story is unacceptable. So, the question I would have to ask is do artists have the authority to determine other’s use of an idea?


Reflection on Readings (Leon and Nimrah) – Haider

“The Ecstasy of Influence (A Plagiarism)”, Jonathan Lethem

In Jonathan Lethem’s ‘The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism,’ he discusses the nature of plagiarism and what plagiarism has done to today’s creative society. Lethem argues over a lot of things in order to convince the audience that influence should not be recognized as plagiarism The author demonstrates his views on adopting ideas and how people call the activity as plagiarism or not. He argues that sharing ideas and getting influences somewhat promote creativeness and generate next movement. The reason why plagiarism is even such a big deal is that everyone tries to own what they believe is their own intellectual property, according to Jonathan Lethem. Lethem says that intellectual property entails copyright. Copyright is a never-ending contract that binds someone’s work to them. However, Lethem is saying that by accusing people of plagiarism and copyright infringement, “you attack the next generation of creators for the crime of being influenced. They make the world smaller.”

Is it ever politically correct to label a work of art plagiarism? Aren’t most people trying to do something to contribute to society through their own ways of interpretation? Unless the work is blatantly copied word by word or eerily similar from another author, is it possible to brand ideas? What are the sources of ideas if not inspired by the basic human needs of living, breathing and art making?I am always immensely moved by nature and the wildly imaginative variations that it takes on. Great works have been erected and inspired by nature. I have had the great fortune of seeing many Gaudi architecture while I was in Barcelona, Spain; the first time I went to Casa Batlló and La Sagrada Família, I was overcome with emotions at the sheer fact that his structures were inspired by the structure of leaves. He had taken the information necessary and translated it into his own language.

“On the Rights of Molotov Man”, Joy Garnet & Susan Meiselas

I do find it very surprising as to how the context of a photo is manipulated and how that, in turn, changes its meaning.

With a photo like this, I feel it’s completely offensive to do what Pepsi did and not only destroyed the significance of who the man is with that bottle. The uneasy realities in regard to revolutions and warfare should not be turned into an inane public relations campaign by a super-corporation like Pepsi, especially because of sensitive subject matter. I’m positive that if anyone took a photo of 9/11 and somehow manipulated it in any way; it would not be well received. That says something about the nature of political imagery in the context of the photo and in the context of what is socially acceptable in the western world.

However, the ideas represented in the discussed photo pertain more to the distortion of the image and how that idea is universally applied to a society that values the superficial above all else. Most photos are now “photoshopped” to achieve a certain look because they aren’t appealing or distinct. As such, they are fixed and designed in ways to allure people and speak to them in a different way.

However, the point to anything like this is that some things should not be changed because its factual and when something is edited in or out it changes the fact.