Before reading “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop”, I had little knowledge of Jamaica. Now this article has given me a general impression of this Caribbean country, especially about its music. Reggae music, and later Hip Hop music that was derived from it, can both find their origins in Jamaican ghettos. Living in China where music is often influenced by politics, I am not at all surprised at the relationship between music and politics in Jamaica. Due to the conflicts between different parties along with the economic decline thereafter, Jamaican citizens chose reggae to express their feelings and wishes. In the mean time, politicians noticed the power of local music, and they wanted to use music to maintain social harmony. I am not against connecting music to politics, but I also do not encourage this phenomenon. During the election of American president last year, I admired that American singers and actors could freely present their standpoints. For them, music seemed a neutral art that could not be controlled by politics. Under the specific background, Jamaican music has developed into what we can observe nowadays. However, different from Chinese music affected by politics, the Jamaican music has much more passion and flexibility, which is very interesting to make further research. In terms of the story of Clive (later called Kool Herc), I really enjoyed reading about his growth in playing music. It is like witnessing the flourish of a new culture.
It was difficult to design an animated film for my recorded sounds because I was clear what items created them. So I tried to jump out of the constraints and come up with unrelated subjects. In the beginning I wanted to draw abstract geometric shapes to visualize the sounds, but after drawing several frames I gave up this idea. It turned out that drawing a lot of shapes in each frame was too annoying, and the visualization effect was not satisfying.
Later I was inspired that one of the sound tracks, the water flow from a tap, could be connected to a crying emoji. Then I decided to make the animation around an emoji. The sound of the microwave could be used to fill in the transforming process. In terms of the keyboard sound, I drew many circles and let them flash. However, I had no idea of the toilet sound, so I used it to clean the screen.
In general, the match between the sound and the visual parts is a significant point. I am still struggling with which one should be made first. I may need more practice in visualization. Also, Adobe Animate is interesting software, and I have learned how to properly use f6 and f7.
Appropriation has become an increasingly controversial topic in the music industry. In usual situations, it is associated with different types of remix in lyrics, melody and tunes. As for the similarities in works of music, it is quite difficult to define plagiarism because the standard is ambiguous. However, in this article, another kind of appropriation is introduced, and it is related to different social issues.
The appropriation mentioned here is around the cultural elements appearing in songs and their music videos. Most of the examples in the article use backdrops that belong to other cultures. Some regards such combinations as “a type of cultural colonialism”, which sounds an offensive appropriation. Those musicians are then opposed for taking advantage of dominated or color groups to make money.
Here the question from “On the Rights of Molotov Man” appears again: who owns the right to take control? Though I agree that appropriation sometimes does cause plagiarism problems, it seems oversensitive to find fault with borrowing other cultural elements. A certain group of people can create culture, but they have no rights to prevent others from borrowing, as culture in my opinion is more like an atmosphere or a common conception. I do not think culture is the same intellectual product as works that always require credits. As long as the borrowers respect egalitarian principles, and they do not discriminate minorities, appropriating cultural elements should be accepted.
If we consider the film industry, the so-called cultural appropriation in music videos may become ridiculous. Contemporary films include much more elements from different cultures than music videos. Directors with various nationalities choose different sites in different countries to accomplish their creation. I feel that it would be more relaxing if people could hold a relatively tolerant attitude towards cultural communication.
“The Ecstasy of Influence” is an interesting article that covers a variety of influences in different fields, such as literature, arts, music, business and so on. Everything in reality exists in a net of connections, and it is impossible for anyone to get rid of the mutual relationship. Our thoughts, choices, or even lifestyles, are influenced by both internal and external factors. According to Lethem’s idea in the article, authors have been immersed in an interconnected world, and as a result their creations more or less contain appropriations.
Generally, influence is either positive or negative, and that is where paradox appears. Without influences from previous works or experiences, it will be difficult for artists and writers to gain inspirations. Positive influences can bring creativity as well as improvements, and old works can sometimes get attention again thanks to outstanding new adaptions. On the other hand, influences generated from existing resources can cause problems of plagiarism. The author of the original version insists on controlling of his or her works, while later artists want to combine those works with their own innovations and make reproduction. So far, such kind of conflicts happens frequently. Though several copyright laws have come out, they are actually “ongoing social negotiation[s], tenuously forged, endlessly revised, and imperfect in its every incarnation” (Lethem 63).
We can never stop the influence, but we can try to balance its negative outcomes. Due to vague standards, how to differ inspiration from plagiarism currently depends on individual ethics and values.
The conversation between Garnett and Meiselas is more like a debate around the appropriation and contextualization of arts. From Garnett’s perspective, it is problematic for any artists, even a documentary photographer who records real events, to take control of the appropriation and context of arts. She implies that artists should have the right to adapt a resource along with its context in an aesthetical way, as long as the process is legal and credits are given. On the contrary, Meiselas describes in detail her personal experience in producing the original photography, and then claims her opinion that the context behind arts should be respected and maintained during the process of reproduction or adaptation. Her serious attitude tries to emphasize that the pain and struggle of Molotov Man cannot be consumed arbitrarily, and so are the contexts of other art works.
Personally I support Meiselas’s opinions. Though artists have the right and freedom to reproduce resource as they wish, sometimes it will be morally correct to reclaim the context of arts. In fact, a lot of art works are anchored in the scars of history. War, death, holocaust and separation are frequent themes exhibited by artists, and people at that time may suffer heavy burdens in their memory. For them, contextualization becomes a basic respect to their life and experiences. If an artist adapted the special tattoos from concentration camps into fashionable designs, it would be highly possible that this practice would face criticism or prohibition, for he or she tried to make fun and make money from an extreme pain. The primary condition of art should be humanitarianism, where human’s feelings are centered and valued.
Inspired by the movie The Matrix, Joseph and I conceived a character called Jeff who existed in the virtual world without his realization. He lived a normal life as everyone else, until one day he noticed a rainbow rip appearing at a corner. Out of curiosity, Jeff neglected the warning sound and walked out of the panel. As soon as he touched the rip, he fell into a space full of Internet phenomenon. After he landed the ground, he entered a door and found the codes and matrix that made up his world. While he was shocked by the discovery, he somehow returned to his normal life all of a sudden. The sound arose again and told Jeff he would never be allowed to leave the virtual world.
After discussion, we divided our work in this way: I was in charge of drawing the comics, while Joseph was mainly responsible for coding. We started our work from the middle instead of the very beginning, and the falling part was completed first. We planned to make Jeff fall along with users’ scrolling, and Joseph figured out the following codes that could create such an effect.
Then we worked on Jeff’s normal life prior to his falling. Jeff’s normal life consisted of five events: sleeping, eating, working, watching TV, and showering. I had not drawn any pictures using Photoshop before, so this process greatly improved my experience in Photoshop. I learned that pictures needed to meet the requirements of the webpage, so I kept Photoshop open and adjusted pictures at any time.
Each of the panels was inserted into a new HTML file, and all the HTML files were linked into the index page with <iframe>.
When I finished most of the comics, I turned to work on the CSS animation. Based on the online research and the sample codes taught in a popcorn session, I successfully finished the rainbow animation and the open-door animation.
With the solution to the animation, our project went smoothly to the end. In our original conception, the adventure of Jeff would be more complicated and the methods of interaction would be more diversified. Due to limited time and capacity, we made some simplifications and even changed slightly the ending of story. However, I regarded our project as really successful and satisfying, because we reached most of our goals, practiced what the professor had taught us, learned a bunch of new things, and the cooperation was pleasant. Thanks to Joseph’s brilliant ideas and good coding skills, we could finish our project efficiently.
Most often, remix points to creating new songs from old ones with copying, transforming and combining. But here in this TED talk, Kirby Ferguson expands the definition of remix to a broader sphere. He puts forward the opinion that “everything is a remix”, and supposes that remix provides a better way to collect inspirations from others and to conceive creativity.
Following the track of this idea, it seems that we come to another question: what is creativity? If we want to create something, say an iPhone (suppose it has not appeared), we must manage relative knowledge as well as skills. Basically, we should know about coding, circuits, and existing smartphones, which actually belongs to others’ creativity. At the same tiem, the iPhone has some features that are applied for the first time. Despite the copying, transforming, combining in the process of invention, those new features are not copied or transformed from anywhere. Hence, I think the border between creativity and plagiarism is ambiguous. We borrow elements and copy ideas from existing things to create completely new stuff, but if we borrow too much, we will be charged with plagiarism. However, it is difficult to clarify a safe zone. How many percentage of copying will be accepted as creativity?
So far I have witnessed on the Internet a lot of disputes regarding the standard of creativity and plagiarism. Once a famous illustrator in China accused another peer of copying her drawing style of eyes. She insisted that his drawing style of eyes were creative and recognizable, and requested an apology for such plagiarism. The other side replied: “Everyone draws eyes in that way! Who can hold a patent for two circles?” Similar cases also happen in other fields, and nobody is entitled to establish a benchmark. Therefore, I feel that remix can be an efficient method of creativity, but it might also be a beautiful excuse for plagiarism.
On this rainy Sunday, I stayed at dorm all day and recorded sound from my dorm life.
The first sound that I recorded was the sound of the flow from a water tap. I recorded a few times because different flux of flow could produce a variety of sound. In the end I chose this one with steady sound so that audience would clearly know what it was.
The second sound was recorded with a door. It was composed of a series of movements: unlocking, opening the door, closing the door, locking. However, it seemed a little confusing if we merely listened to the sound.
Next was the sound of typing. My friend helped me to create the sound by randomly pressing on the keys. I preferred to add some interval to the typing, but currently it sounded nice.
The fourth one was the sound of microwave. I opened the door, put food into the microwave, closed the door, and started the machine. A few seconds later, with a crisp and striking “ding”, I opened the door of the microwave, and then closed it. One of the drawbacks was that it was hard to recognize the sound of the operation.
The last one was the sound of flushing a toilet. Compared to the first sound of tap, the sound of flushing toilet was much stronger and more recognisable.
In terms of the walk cycle animation, I put emphasis on the biological mechanism of walking, and the imitation became so extreme that only bones were left. I used different color to mark different legs so that the walk would be clearer. When the skeleton arrived at the right side of the screen, it collapsed, and later the skull fell down.
The biggest problem I met during the production was that it was difficult to fix the position of the paper. Every time I moved a part, other paper also moved, which influenced the effect of the animation.
Also, after I finished the animated film, I found that I did not meet the requirement of loop. The skeleton did not walk out of the screen.
So far our comic project has approached smoothly. Joseph and I divide our work in this way: in the early stages I am responsible for drawing the comic panels while Joseph simultaneously prepares the html construction.
In the past weekend, we tried to combine the comic and the scrolling effect that is an important interactive part in our project. I drew the falling posture of our main character Jeff, and used the magic tool in Photoshop to cut him out. Joseph created a webpage where the background displayed a variety of Internet phenomenon, and controlled Jeff’s falling with “onscroll”.
We leave a few lines of blank space for the normal life. After Jeff falls out of his normal life, he will pass a bunch of elements from the Internet, implying that he actually lives in the computer.