Week 5 – The Ecstasy of Influence and On The Rights of Molotov Man (Vasudevan)

On The Rights of Molotov Man By Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas

During my audio project, I decontextualized N.W.A’s song “Fuck The Police”. After reading Molotov Man, I now understand the problems that may arise when doing so.

I was quite perplexed when the misusage of the song was called out to me. Since we had previously discussed remixing and how it can lead to creativity in class, I thought using songs in this manner was acceptable.

Even today, I find it hard to draw the line between what is remixing and what is misappropriation. However, Molotov Man and Susan’s response to the situation go good lengths in describing how this particular painting infringed the image’s very meaning.

I also understand the artist’s point of view, as I committed the same mistake myself, but saw his lack of understanding of the image as somewhat ignorant. Perhaps it is worse that I knew of the context behind the song and yet used it for other purposes. Regardless, I agree with Susan. What the artist did was not remixing. He copied Susan’s image and treated it as his own. He stripped the “Molotov Man” of his identity, not caring why he’d be carrying a Molotov cocktail, not giving the man credit for his struggles.

The Ecstasy of Influence By Jonathan Lethem

“You take away our right to steal ideas, where are they going to come from?” is a phrase quoted from Roger Meyers Jr. which stood out from the passage itself.

The quote got me thinking, as did the examples provided by the author thereafter, that some ideas are original in themselves. By this, I mean that there has always been one idea which did actually emerge from thin air. With this statement, I recognize I am contradicting posts I have previously written but just now I began to consider this possibility.

Just like Kirby Ferguson mentions, Jonathan Lethem is emphasizing the fact that most art is a derivation of another art form that came before it. Except, the cycle must have started at one point.

Having said this, I do agree that ideas can build up on themselves. Meaning, that one can come up with an art project based on ideas previously conjured, yet we cannot rule out the possibility of ideas being completely unique.

Another interesting insight was the explanation of how a photographer may be plagiarizing the objects featured in his images. Yet here, I find a flaw in the reasoning. A photographer makes everything in his picture his because of how he presents it. What a photographer does is let you see the world through his eyes, making whatever is within the picture indisputably his. This is his view, his way of looking at the world, and he is sharing such an art with you.

Finally, I appreciate how the author explains the idea of copyright has been gradually molded with time. He explains how nowadays, copyright is based on the idea that everyone must own something, even intellectual property. This is, in a sense, the world we live in today. A world where everything has an owner, even air rights! It seems only logical, that copyrights would deviate in towards that direction as well. Where businessmen even try to take profit from their ideas, turning a blind eye on the fact that they may be crushing another man’s genius.

Week 5 – Embrace the Remix (Vasudevan)

“Nothing is original”. Says Kirby Ferguson. “Copy, Transform, and Combine is the root of all creativity” is Ferguson’s main belief.

The lecturer gives various examples of this creativity methods. These examples include several songs produced by Bob Dylan with a base similar to that of older songs and Apple’s multi-touch technology. Ferguson understands that creativity comes from without, as opposed to being self-made. In other words, our ideas do not emerge from thin air. Instead, we use other’s contributions to the artistic world (and other industries) as a starting point of a new idea altogether or to further develop an idea we had previously mustered.

I agree with Ferguson’s point of view. Most products are an improvement of similar versions that had been already introduced into the world by others. This includes technology, art, music, pieces of academic writing, etc. In academic writing, a philosopher produces a theory and thereafter another scholar builds up on that theory. People find its flaws, criticize it, then perfect it. Is this not the same concept Ferguson explains in his video?

Unfortunately, he explains how the Patent Act of 1790 does everything but encourage the development of new ideas based on old, despite the fact that the law claims it promotes the progress of useful arts. What I believe Ferguson is hinting at is that we must call for a reform of this law and accept the fact that EVERYTHING IS A REMIX.

Response to Walter Benjamin Week 10 (Vasudevan)

I appreciated how the author did not discard the idea that art was could also be replicated before the creation of technical reproduction. Because, and I am in accordance to the author’s point of view, art was always liable to be duplicated. Technical reproduction merely simplified and quickened the process. This simplification brought along with it the possibility to extend the range of people the art impacted, while consequentially creating the danger of the unification of the masses.

I also found it very interesting how the author presented the dangers of reduplication of art. As we all very well know, this idea of art being able to be reprinted over and over again means that it can be spread out to wider masses. In other words, he explains how propaganda began and with it, the possibility to unify a people’s way of thinking, opinion, beliefs, etc.

In a similar note, the author also mentions how the art of film is quite totalitarian in the sense that we can only see what the cameraman wishes us to see. However, here I must disagree. This same opinion can be used to describe any form of art, not just film or photography. Therefore, while we may feel limited to the frames presented by the artist, I find it extreme to describe the style as totalitarian.

Week 7: Proposal for Video Project

Our idea for this next project, for which I am in a team with Ying, Carlo, and Harrison consists of a platform which will allow both men and women to experience how clothes will look on their body before they try it on. We plan to film a sorts of advertisement on different shops in order to portray the frustration men and women feel when they have to try on clothing before they purchase the item.

Thereafter, we will create a web page in which the user will be able to play with an image of themselves and transform it in order to see how a specific clothing item will look on them even without trying it on.

Our video project will be done throughout West Nanjing where one girl and one guy from our team will be trying on different types of clothing and showing signs of frustration. Then, we will introduce our webpage and show the various benefits you get from using our resource.

Week 7: Audio Project Tommy and Ori (Vasudevan)

Our audio project is supposed to represent the relationship between those who make a living out of the fake market and the police. While the selling of fake goods is illegal, the fake market at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum subway station is still working. We wanted to demonstrate how it is that they are still running. However, it was complicated to obtain actual recordings of the subjects relating their relationship with the police, as was predicted. Therefore, we had to edit our audio in a way that we could portray this same image of illegal actions happening despite the police being aware of it. For this, we decided to use alarm sounds, songs lyrics, among other effects installed within our audio project.

In terms of the website, we created a platform where the user can both create their own melody based on different sections of our song, yet still, listen to our audio the way we want them to experience it. In this way, we have provided the user with the freedom to play around with excerpts of our full project by selecting three images then playing the sound each image emanates. Once the audio behind those three images has finished playing, the user can finally experience our masterpiece.


Week 7: Response to TED Talk (Vasudevan)

Adichie’s TED Talk was eye-opening because of how she provided both sides of to each argument. While she was attempting to help others understand the dangers of the single story, she admitted to having been an accomplice of it as well. However, what struck me the most was her way of describing her experiences whenever she went back to Nigeria. How her society complained and cursed at the government yet still prospered remineded me a lot of back home. Her admiration for her people is the same admiration I feel for mine. The number of times that the citizens of my country have been wronged by the government are countless, however, their passion for Argentina (my home) remains and lives within each of my compatriates.

However, her most important point, the idea that stereotypes are created through the retelling of a story over and over again is something which can be witnessed on a daily basis. Our way of classifying people and labeling them is apparent in even the smallest of scenarios. We create first impressions based on their looks, the people they hang out with, and their reputation. We do very little to go against these prejudices which have been instilled in us from previous experiences, stories, etc.

I believe this is a scenario of which we have all been responsible for as well as victims. Yet, her way of making it a public understanding of why it is that we create these images of each other may open the minds of many, allowing us to reevaluate our everyday stereotypes before classifying other people in these boxes.

Week 6: Reading (Vasudevan)

Theft and Artistry

The article allowed me to comprehend in a more in-depth way the manner by which cultural appropriation is criticized. In response to the article, I know see cultural appropriation as the act of using another culture, apart from one’s own, to gain profit from the implementation of the foreign culture.

These situations tend to include an artist who fails to portray the culture in question appropriately, and instead, includes members of their own race to represent the cultural traits they seek to signal out.

The example given in the article was Beyonce’s and Coldplay’s song Hymn for The Weekends, whose music video was extensively criticized for wrongfully displaying Indian culture. Moreover, neither artist in a participant of the culture under scrutinization, which worsens the situation even more.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Response:

While I enjoyed exploring the roots of reggae music and its thereafter offspring, hip-hop, I was not too engrossed by the reading as I had previous background information regarding the topic. I am also not surprised to discover that reggae was originally created as a means to express political points of views, as this is also the case for most music genres.

Music has been a means to express political discontent for years. Many artists raise awareness of immoral situations worldwide through the lyrics and melodies implemented in their music.

However, I did find very intriguing the excerpt where the author mentions:

“Every Jamaican Politician knew what every Jamaican musician knew – the sound systems were crucial to their success” (page 30).

In the previous quote, not only does the author claim music can display political points of views, but they are also stating that musicians had a direct effect on the outcome of the polls.

I partially agree with the author’s opinion, since if lyrics disclose information which had been previously out-of-reach to the public, then such a situation can have a definite impact on elections’ outcomes.

Comic Project Nancy & Ori


The comic we created is supposed to represent several aspects of a person’s life. Starting from the role of technology in an individual’s daily life (the penguin comic) to how college can affect a student’s life (panda comic).


We began the project with another idea in mind but began to change the comic’s design as we tried to add more interaction to the comic.

Our project begins at a start-up page where the user chooses the story they wish to observe. In total, there are 4 stories.

In the panda story, the idea is for the user to input their own chores into the panda’s list. As the list gets bigger, the panda’s eyes get darker, the Starbucks cups pile up, until the final comic strip, where the panda ends up knocked out. The inspiration behind the Panda’s eyes getting darker was due to the Chinese idiom “you have Panda eyes” whenever somebody hasn’t slept, is stressed, and has circles under their eyes.

The Starbucks cups simply represent the need to stay awake and get through all the work, while the knocked out panda shows how many can let stress take over them.


In the penguin comic, we wanted to portray two friends’ daily lives and thought through technology it would be the best way. We’ve reached a point in society where it is evident that in every meeting we will have phones present. Therefore, we made one penguin ask the other if they could take a picture. The user is meant to press a button to take the picture then, at the end of the comic, they choose the picture they like the most. However, the penguin dislikes all of them and rejects the user’s opinion.


Another comic is played when the fox is clicked upon. In this comic, we portrayed another friendship situation, yet discarded the existence of technology. Instead, we took it back a couple of years and displayed two foxes piecing together a puzzle. In this comic, the user is meant to help the foxes complete the puzzle.


Nancy & Ori Comic Page (Vasudevan)

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We are currently working on the HTML page. We have the comic’s drawings established and have agreed on what animation and interaction each comic will have. For now, we still have to finish uploading the project to the web and establishing the page’s content. Once this is finished, we will work on the content’s design and thereafter move on to the animation and user interaction.

JavaScript Exercise 2 (Vasudevan) Nancy & Ori

We started off modifying the function, placing if and else properties. We focused on the mouse location first, making sure we had an outcome for every position the mouse adopted throughout the four squares.

Afterward, we began to play around with each squares’ background color and style. We thought that if we changed the background color to blue every time the user clicked on a square, we would be able to complete the exercise.

We also had a minor setback when we wrote the pixels measurement behind every number, which affected our outcome.

Once we finished modifying the style of the squares, we noticed that the color of the squares wouldn’t change so we began to explore other possibilities. Professor Roopa gave the class the hint of using the display:block attribute to complete the exercise, so we changed the style display to “block” for each time the user would click on a square. We also had to cancel out all the other squares by changing their display to display: “none”.

The display “block” allowed the style of the square to appear, which is what allowed us to finish the exercise.




Nancy and Ori