Week 3: Response to Kings of Nowhere

I think “floating” is the main concept throughout the documentary. It is the first thing that came out on the screen, eyes with or without a direction of a man’s, floating in a boat crossing the water. Never seen him again, like the people who left this region, thinking that staying here will become rotten as this deserted place, and that blackouts and murders are just unpredictable. Life is impermanent. The late night when a man is directing the boat and telling stories of another man of madness – is the most impressing floating scene to me. The playing/changing of lights are doing really great works here. Sometimes there is an overall dim light around the whole area, but sometimes there is only a streetlight shining dazzling from the man’s back. Sometimes you see the man’s face, and sometimes you don’t. This tactic adds to the mysterious and darkness of the stories. It is hard to identify with the stories being told, since they are all so “abnormal” in other places though normal to the locals, but the angles of scenes are so closed-up that you instead identify with the film producer who was doing the work of shooting, as if we were there, right on the boat, recording every piece and movement of the man’s mouth and spoken words.

I wouldn’t say that the directions of shooting on the boat did a “great” job as well since there were times I wasn’t really sure what the angles were trying to tell, like when the screen just show random scenery for a long period of time (someone answered in class that this may show the slow pace of the place). But it did a “good” job, to be fair, in giving the audience many different aspects to see: from the angle of the bow of the boat facing at the boatmen, from the bow facing forward, from inside the boat facing the boatmen pulling the ship on shore…there are already numerous angles solely sitting on the bow. The opening scene was confusing, though, where the focus on the man was suddenly blurred out. Meanwhile I found the angle toward animals watching straightly in the screen was very spirited and soulful. All of these above were shown during “floating,” during when you feel like the people, and you, are being watched by the animals, the violent soldiers, the empty houses, the wandered souls, and the God.

At the very end of the documentary the audience are told about the new murder. Wow. That means we were also floating through time and space when watching the film in a classroom in 2017.

I wonder where the man in the first scene went, the one on a boat, floating…

“We’re floating in the universe.”

“If I keep telling then it is going to be morning.”

Week 2: Response to Moana with Sound

I stayed until the end of the movie and I had to say that Moana with Sound is really an amazing work! The original shooting are amazing, and the fact that all the sounds are post-sync with the images just makes it more amazing. I was especially drawn away by the laughter of the people in the movie. Although there are times when the soundtrack doesn’t 100% fit with the image, which is actually quite often, their laughter is strangely attractive to me. Different kinds of laughter at different scenes including the little boy having fun in the water and the most unforgettable, the female lead’s laughter when she is with her husband. Laughing is probably the hardest part to sync since there are speaking parts embedded in them, and you have to laugh “genuinely.” Those scenes are necessary to the entire movie because it shows that they enjoy their life full of hard work including catching fish, collecting coconuts, holding ritual events, and so on. The life style has become a part of themselves, and each single event seems to connect with other events and represents the repetitive living mode, while their laughter is the lubricant in between. Therefore, they are really successful laugh scenes which gave me the sense of happiness.

At last I would like to add that I really appreciate the spirit of Monica Flaherty which she took on the “responsibility” of adding sounds to her father’s original filmed movie, to make it more complete.

Week 1: Surface, Depth, and Movements

Link to the video: https://drive.google.com/a/nyu.edu/file/d/0B2_kfdDj8kGwb1Y5cVZPOWdsY1E/view?usp=sharing

Concept of this series: surface, depth, and movements – Interlock of Vision and Reality

Filming Location: 1933 Shanghai Slaughterhouse

surface – Once a slaughterhouse, the 1933 building has become a tourist attraction. Standing outside of the building, what I see from the window is a cigarette shop and the reflection of the flow of cars and people behind me. The people at the bar in the shop look like they are sitting in a car. An old building in the reflection makes it more of a complicated scene of time and space.

depth – I want to show that when speaking about ‘depth,’ we may not be standing on the side of looking at things representing ‘depth,’ for example: a hole. Rather, we may be standing right exactly in the scene and looking up from the deep, deep depth. I imagine myself as a cow ready to be killed, lining up under the surface and looking up, only to see people walking past smiling.

movements – I captured another scene of the cigarette shop, this time from the angle of inside the slaughterhouse facing their display window. From here I can still see the shop but vaguely. The non-stop smoke blurred out the fusion of two sides of a glass window.

Week 1: Response to Clay Bavor, “Virtual and Augmented Realities: Asking the right questions and traveling the path ahead”

In the rapidly developing field of AR and VR, also known as “immersive computing,” more and more people, and soon everyone, will have this “superpower” to manipulate infinite, external information into the real world, or even create a “new world”, to predict or review any experience/scenario he or she wants…

I looked at the comments below the article and found that not everyone is as optimistic about the development of VR/AR as Bavor does, or at least they took a step back and think: do we really need this? What is lacking in this new way of “experiencing” the world? What is necessary to be done and what is unnecessary?

In class, Carol said that VR will only become more accessible in the future, and at that time we won’t need any more VR glasses or mobiles. However, is removing abstractions (VR glasses and mobiles) between computers and us really a good thing? Imagine a life entirely relying on computers…extremely convenient, but we may be more passive instead of active than ever before. I am afraid that soon the role of humanity will switch from creators/commanders to merely conformists who receive and obeys every piece of information, when we rely on computers more than our brains, and afterwards human may become no more human-like and since we are all electronic-device addicted we are going to be taken over by some robotic army one day……(Perhaps I watched too many sci-fi)

Back to the main topic.

A very interesting point is, according to Bavor, over the past few decades the computers are made to work more and more “like human”. I think that computers are invented to work things out faster, doing things humanity can also achieve but just way faster, in ways not necessary “like humans” do. VR/AR is actually the same concept so I don’t think I have to explain once more.  When “people started using them to make everything from creating school reports to designing jet engines,” we are being more productive with the tools but maybe less productive with ourselves.

But if you have reliable tools why do you have to worry about relying on the unreliable self? Because for now VR/AR still need a major breakthrough to fulfill human beings’ are strict standards of visual experiencing. This is why immersion is so important to VR, that is has to be “immersive” to own the meaning of existing.

Anyway, we should all be optimistic, shouldn’t we?

Week 1: Response to Rosler, Steyerl, and Menand

Back when I was a kid, I always thought that documentaries are “the more important movies”, where they took the burden of recording histories and valuable moments, and thus being 100% real and unquestionable. Growing up, I still believe that they are doing their job of capturing stories, it’s just that I start to question: are they doing the job “right”?

Reading these three articles make me ensure my idea more: documentaries are realistic, but not essentially real. Menand gave an example of Robert Flaherty’s “Nanook of the North”, in which Flaherty could ask the Inuits to do the same actions again and again until he is satisfied; however, in most of unmanipulated cases, things only happen once; but still, they are doing what Inuits do.

Now that documentaries are questionable and in fact controversial at some point, what’s the importance of making those films? Rosler thinks that “documentaries engages with structural injustices, often to provoke active responses.” However, a documentary can be a responsible person and an irresponsible person at a same time. It shows how things really work in the world, but it just left the whole package there and a “what next” for the audience to figure out by themselves.

But this is what actually makes the difference between documentaries and movies. David in our class mentioned that documentaries are a way of showing how we see the world, it can be subjective and prejudice, and it all depends on the producer’s perspective and purpose of making the film. Because that we all know movies are “fake”, we accept editorial work and dramatic, even impossible events and effects while telling our brains that these are all “drama”; documentaries are “meant to be real,” so even when editing is done, we still wants to believe that things do happen the way it is shown on the screen, though sometimes being skeptical. In this sense, documentaries can be important for a nation to spread its central ideology, or some certain people to achieve their goal through changing the audience’s mindset. Other than that, I can only tell the uniqueness but not the importance of documentaries.

Having “realistic but not essentially real” as a trait, we can address to Steyerl’s  “the uncertainty principle of modern documentarism.” This part of the readings is where I felt the most interested. The struggle between reality and beauty of the scene creates the distance between “other” and us. This part is always complicated and it should be complicated, since it has to do with the subject’s dignity. What the film producers want to present through the screens can often be different from what the subjects being shoot want to show through the lenses of cameras. Perhaps, unlike comics simplifying objects to make it more relatable to real-life, documentaries are meant to keep the distance between “other” and us, because we may never be the subjects, what we should think about is how we can do or interact with the scenes.

But don’t the subjects have the power to make the influence themselves?

Do we have the power to help them make the influence?

Final Project (Chen)

Name of Project: When Darkness Comes

Link to Project:

Partner: Xue Bin (Miki)

Description: A unique form of online room escape game, When Darkness Comes poses a strong mission of saving New York University campuses and the rest of the world from evil dark magic back to its brightness.

Content: HTML, CSS, JS, p5

***Note: Please open the link in Chrome and full screen. Higher the brightness of the screen and turn on the volume for a better experience.

Demo of Project (basic walkthrough):


This is the home page. Click on “START” to play the game.

Continue reading

Week 12: Final Project Proposal (Chen)

Name of Project: (Undecided)

Type of Project: Interactive Website

Partner: Miki Bin

Description: A scary online room escape game

Interactions: At the start of the game users can choose the level of the game they wish to play: easy, intermediate, or hard. During the game, users have to follow the basic instructions and mostly find out the clues on their own to solve the enigma. The things the users collect will go into a collection box on the side which can be use later in the game. The users will also be able to see where they are on the map on another screen (pc, tablet, or phone) by scanning the QR code on the website.

Website Design: A cool homepage with instructions and choices of the level of the game will be the first thing the users see on the website. Coming after is an intro video that take the users into the scene of the story: you are locked in this scary room and you have to figure out your ways out! The actual interaction page should include a clear picture of the room and side bars that can control minor stuffs like volume and so on. As for the collection box we are still thinking about either putting on the website page or on the page by scanning QR code (depends on how well we can develop the respond between two pages).

Coding: HTML, CSS, JS, P5

Materials: Video, Audio, Photo (All of them requires editing)

Inspirations: Both of us experienced this game physically and want to explore it on the web. We found that there are many online games that were already made so we watched a lot of them to build a general picture of what our project might be.

Job Assignment:

Both – Draw storyboard. Shoot the scene for the escape room. Coding.

Miki – Intro Video. Design some clues.

Me – Corresponding QR code scanning page on another user interface. Design some clues.

Week 12: Response to “Web Work: A History of Internet Art” (Chen)

Nice long article on the brisk history of the Internet Art…it is a little bit too much for me to take them all at once. But I do get a better picture of the evolving technologies and the thoughts that come along.

Whichever form of art, the intention is to convey the “message” through communication, and “building an equitable community in which art was conspicuously present in one’s everyday activities was a collective goal.” When Internet Art just started to become something, the atmosphere was lively, gregarious, and ambitious as it said in the article. It was easy for newcomers to enter the field and thus the community has extended fast. The internet has become “alternative spaces and publications and the people who create them.” Overall it has just been exciting enough for us to discover the seemingly infinite possibilities which we can express our innovations through new and different types of arts.

“The birth and development of ‘civil society’…was characterized by media openness.” Arts can be the most creative way of communication between people. We can make the most of Arts from the benefit of media openness. However, when the Internet is “colonized by mainstream media and the corporate juggernaut,” the message one artist wants to convey through his or her project can be twisted or misled, sometimes even with political reasons behind. There can be multiple interpretations of a simple art work and the original artist’s version can often not be the mainstream one. Considering the fact that our world has evolved so far and values can change, this phenomenon is actually common. Human think within the frames the society has provided us the moment we were born, but we are also “creating frames within frames and new combinations of text and image.”

Anything can be arts if one is careful enough to notice and observe its uniqueness. For example, I am really interested in musical installations and any other sound-related projects. The Kings Cross Station’s projects on telephone booths is definitely inspiring in its way of interacting with the environment it is within. It is not the conventional way of music concerts or recitals but it is still music involved. What I am trying to say here is, Internet just works this way, a new interface that can still engage arts. Human arts, to be more precise.

“Art without social involvement is impossible”