Field Trip to Beijing

Beijing trip was amazing, and I am really grateful to see so many exhibitions and art works in a short weekend. As for video-art, the exhibitions have a variety of showcase on how video and visual effects can be extended outside of a single screen, into dislocated screens or even the surrounding space, which are all really good inspirations for my final project.

In all of the time-based art, I like the one by Chang Yun-han, a Taiwanese artist, where in the video, a performer is sitting on the chair, rocking back and forth, telling a story. (Unfortunately I cannot find the name of this piece on both her personal website and the Internet, but here is a picture of it below.)

I didn’t have the opportunity to watch the whole piece, but from my comprehension, it is about a boy keeping a small alligator, which during the process he has to constantly give it a new home because it is getting larger and larger. Throughout it is only the performer, the man wearing mixed clothing with aboriginal element in the video, saying out the story, so it is for the audience to imagine what the “visual” looks like in their head. However, the way the story is told is very special, that it repeats again and again the names of some colors, which are the colors of the alligator and the homes (objects). The representation of scenes by individual colors makes the visualization of the story in our mind even stronger. Standing right in front of the projected glass, I could really picture the story just from what I heard.

I like this piece not only because of the storytelling techniques and the poetic sentences, but also because that it may be addressing that we are easily dominated by visuals with what technology can do today. With all the fancy effects, the communication between us and the new digital world seem to go from strong interactions back to the single way of merely receiving information. But with this piece, with a same story, different people may have different pictures in their imaginations, and somehow we have also become co-creators of the piece.

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Final Project Idea

For my final project, I am going to make an online diary app using react.js. Nowadays most people don’t physically write that much, but type using digital devices instead. Therefore, I figure out that it would be more convenient for those using an online diary app, with the app itself being more accessible (don’t have to worry about a diary book disappearing or being stolen). I think diaries don’t have to be traditional where everyday people sit down and write a full paragraph or page of everything; they can be specific occurrences or brief thoughts/statements happening whenever. The app is for anyone who has a PC or phone, especially ones who is eager to document unique feelings and cool ideas before they disappear for good and slowly being forgotten.

How my project will be different from existing diary apps is mainly the layout of entries and how this will generate different feelings for the users. By connecting daily entries with calendar, users can easily navigate through different entries posted at different times. By grouping specific entries,  they can be linked to each other by topics. Overall, the juxtaposing of the entries will help user to be more connected to their own stories. I will be able to tell more about them after I will have done my competitor research.

My problem is that I want to be able to break the risk of users having non-lasting interest in writing diaries, maybe by adding game-like “sign-in” prizes/awards (I still haven’t exactly figured out how).

Midterm Project: Mobile Address Book App

Name of Project: BESTIES

(made in React.js)

Description: BESTIES is a mobile address book app (in IphoneX) designed for people who make friends from all over the world, and would like to have a list of Besties that one can easily manage.



The idea of this app actually stems from my own experience studying here at NYU Shanghai. NYU Shanghai is composed of people from a diversity of backgrounds, and so it is relatively easy to make friends from different places in the world. Stepping a step back, the fact that many of us are making “best friends at the current time from a new country” is just amazing, like I having an Indian bestie who has come to China since she was 11-month-old. Back before college, most of our contacts are all from our hometowns or home countries, and we may have spent a good three, four, or more years studying with and becoming closer to them. However, attending NYU Shanghai is like entering into reality: it is mostly impossible for us to expect who we will meet and among them, who will become our new best friends, and how long can they still be close friends that you can see frequently.

Old best friends are still besties, but perhaps some of them has lost some intimacy as time goes by. But at the same time, it is also easy to become very familiar to each other again if there’s an event or any other opportunity that brings people together. Besties or not? Well, BESTIE can possibly solve this determining issue. It is actually further developing the existing, inescapable settings of “normal contacts and favorites;” instead, the app has a list of “besties and best of best,” which can possibly co-exist with other address-book app. With this app, one can easily manage one’s contacts of besties, and see a clear view of who are in the “best of best” list. The app may be even more useful when one starts working and traveling around. Overall, by using Besties, the user is able to pull out his/her list of besties really fast without the need to think for a long time over the entire life span: who is important to me?

User stories and Showcase:

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Assignment 4: Experimenting Green Screen Video with Processing

Name: Trapped

Duration: (00:02:51  , Looped)

Software: Processing, Premiere

Footage – source: Google

Description: This is a video piece that includes still images and a green screened astronaut on top. The piece aims to show that the astronaut, or perhaps us all, are all trapped in time and space, based on the most significant, whether bad or good, thing we have done.


Due to the fact that information nowadays are worldwide, it’s highly impossible to keep them private. By all kinds of broadcasting through satellites, internet and other sharing platforms, once a single thing about a person is spread out, it becomes a dominating criterion or way of how people are going to know or think about that person at first. Even if what the person did was good, it may power over all the other things about the person. If what the person did was something considered to be bad, it may go along with the person and even become the “label” of him/her. Thus the project name “Trapped.”

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Week 6: Response to TREVOR PAGLEN

In the “machine-machine visual culture,” what’s behind the invisible images are in fact invisible algorithms, the way how things work. However, this is actually out of our control and even our awareness, because nowadays there are just too much information to absorb. We may have a totally different, fully experience of things but it takes time for us to digest.

Physically there are fundamental differences, how we view things and our capabilities of capturing things are changed compared to the past. In my other class we were using Marshall McLuhan’s tetrad for studying media to study various forms of modern media. What does this specific medium enhances? What does it obsolesces? What does it retrieves and how will it go to extreme when things reverse? In short, our team figures out that how a medium evolves can change the intention of the users using the medium to express things. For example, Instagram has also become a form or presentation of art. Many artists choose to use Instagram to present their collections of art, similar to when we go to an exhibition, but can be fundamentally different that the intention of the app has generally been shifting from merely documenting things to the ultimate goal of “sharing” these with others by photos. The digitization of art has widen the sphere of audience, but it’s also harder to control. However, the Facebook faces algorithm shows that “the network has been trained to recognize” us as we may not have recognized it doing so, a question is then raised: what exactly are we exchanging when we receive information on these new kinds of media?

The idea that what we’re looking at is also looking back at us is creepy. Although our generation as digital natives are kind of aware of the safety of our own information and other data shared on all digital platforms and the Internet, we often do not know how these things work behind the scenes. It is definitely reshaping how we think and how we perceive things. The new “concepts have helped us to navigate the workings of classical visual culture” (Paglen). But the navigation here is often guidance. We have different thoughts and opinions as individuals, but it is often based on the fundamental mindset or structure shaped by the media. As Plagen said,

“Program the algorithms to see everyone equally and the humans they so lovingly oversee shall be equal. I am not convinced.”

On the other hand, we are also shaping the media. The user interfaces cannot change randomly with the risk of receiving hates from the previous users (ex. Kylie Jenner Case with Snapchat). This concept can be connected to the ones I have for my stop motion project: EYE SEE ART. The process of self-amputation can even be more emphasized on the “computer vision systems,” when there’s a distance or an invisible wall between us and the object (the discussion of “the relationship between human viewers and images”). “It is in inefficiency, experimentation, self-expression, and often law-breaking that freedom and political self-representation can be found” (Plagen). We cannot neglect the topic of this article just because we are already seemingly, very integrated into the world of new media. “The invisible world of images isn’t simply an alternative taxonomy of visuality. It is an active, cunning, exercise of power, one ideally suited to molecular police and market operations–one designed to insert its tendrils into ever-smaller slices of everyday life,” culturally, socially, economically, politically, everything.

Week 5: Competitive Research on Address Book Apps + Prioritized User Stories

Some address book apps that I researched and their features – one may not have heard about it but here’s what’s good and what’s bad about them:

  1. Addappt, for iOS and Android, tackles the issue that most information on an address book has to be updated manually by the users. The app will automatically update every changes ones contacts make on their own profiles, on condition that the contact also use the app.
  2. Government Officials Contacts, “the largest offline database (contacts or phonebook) of the field level officers of Bangladesh Government” according to the description of the app on Google Play, contains all contacts of the government officials and the higher level local officers. However, it is not clear who the target users are, whether the civil servants or the normal people. However, the UI itself looks too simple with only buttons and information of phone number and email address. (The developer of this app also created other apps such as Calendar of Bangladesh national holidays, Mobile Court Activities of Bangladesh, and so on. Wait, do they all have permissions of the authorities?)
  3. GAL (Global Address List), a searchable directory in Outlook, features a global list of contacts within one’s own private organization/group, where one can still hide individual contacts from other users. Users can create a list of contacts and share the entire list with others. I personally think this is very convenient. Although the sharing process could be easier by just sending a list of names by other platforms such as emails, one already has GAL as the input platform so one doesn’t have to input the list one by one manually into another app of his/her own.
  4. Humin, an iOS app, in my opinion stores contacts’ information the way it should be, by how “relatable” the contacts are to the user, rather than pure data. By having a lot of filters such as contacts’ current locations, how one knows/met the contacts, and more, it prevents user of having a long list that starts with a contact whose name starts with an “A” but is barely familiar with. Although this workflow is definitely special, it does not guarantee of efficiency when normally in most of the other address book apps we just simply type in the contact’s name or part of the name in search bar; people may have to take time to get use to this workflow.

Other interesting things:

All these address book apps coming out with new, cooler, and seemingly more convenient features, does it really matters at all? I found an article online which tells a story about an address book app called Brewster, which collects all kinds of information of a person from famous platforms to provide an overall view of how the person can be reached. It sounds perfectly useful but it was said in the article by Brewster own CEO Steven Greenwood that, this is not actually how people do,

When we want to reach someone, we don’t open our contacts app and tap Send Message. We find them inside the communications app we’re already using, whether it’s Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, or the Mailbox email app. And when we do want to look up someone directly, we search for them within Spotlight on iOS, or within search on Android.

User Stories for midterm project: building a simple address book “app”

(This section should be constantly updated throughout the development of the project.)

Name of the app – [] (undecided, for mobile use)

  1. As a user, when opening up [], I can see a default vertical order of a banner with “add contact” function and filter/sort function, my profile, a Favorites bar, list of all contacts showing their profile pictures centered with their names beside, and a search bar at the bottom.
  2. As a user, I can search contacts by clicking on the magnifying glass on the bottom left, and then typing the name in the search bar that appears.
  3. As a user, I rearrange the order of my contacts in the list when I click on a filter icon on the bottom right, choose different filters, and type in the filter requirement (ex. Country: China).
  4. As a user, I can sort my list of contacts, either ascending or descending, based on the contacts’ names.
  5. As a user, when I click on each individual contact, a personal page of the person will pop onto the current page, containing all of his/her information (name, address, phone number, email address.)
  6. As a user, when I click on [] on the top center or other spare spaces, I go back to the homepage with a list of contacts.
  7. (More to come…)