LEON LIU

A Minimalist Artist

DESIGNER MEME
11-13-19
NO TIME
11-12-19

Who is the authority in the field of art? Is there an authority? Should there be an authority? I guess there is no authority in art and there should not be. The problem behind the beef between Nicki Minaj and Peter Rosenberg is that when celebrities have influences, they want to become the authority and the representative of their specialized field of art. Although they are not being real authority, being authority at least in some ways might give people a false feeling of having power. People feel good about having power. In the case of Peter Rosenberg, he believes he has the power to decide what is true Hip Pop and what is not, because of his "legitimate" background. However, how can you tell why Nicki Minaj's songs are not Hip Pop?

Art is changing and its genre is changing too. Unlike engineers, doctors, archaeologists who work within stipulated traditions and science, artists don't have any boundary. We create according to our visions and what makes artists most proud of is there are people believing in their visions. That is what matters. However, a tendency of complaining still persists.

Art is self-defined though, old influential artists do feel shamed that recently the self-defined art becomes more and more shallow and uninspiring. Influential director Martin Scorsese wrote an article on the New York Times, expressing his concerns because of Netflix and Marvel superhero movies, filmmakers and audience start to treat films as good to cater people's demands. The true soul of films is lost. When everything is so accessible on the internet, the amount of time people would devote to appreciate a piece of art shrinks severely. Artists have to make high-stimulating contents (sex, violence, gun) to attract people's attention. Then people tend to only appreciate art that is high-stimulating. An endless loop it is. Art is not just entertainment. It is also an appreciation and appreciation takes time. Art can only be deep and inspiring, when people spend time on it but most people right now have "no time."

MYSTERIOUS PROFESSIONALISM
11-05-19

I respect how Amanda Palmer uses her action to suggest that celebrities can be directly supported by fans. In fact, I respect and appreciate everyone who is courageous enough to use his/her actions to prove ideas that seem radical and unsound. However, I still feel skeptical.

I think it is fair for artists to ask their supporters for things such as accommodation and food. Artists possess valuable social or technical capital. For Amanda, the music she created and the music's influence must be very deep and personal to her supports. Such a unique influence can never be bought through money or food or accommodation. However, does maintaining such a closeness with the supports always facilitate the art creation of the artists and the fan activity? I doubt it. People will admire some "god-like" celebrities. Intimate connection between the celebrities and the fan will only injure the image of the celebrities. I guess most of the god-like celebrities might have a superior and masterful social or technical capital people are not able to understand. Fans might perceive the celebrities as non-human.

The other reason I doubt Amanda's idea is that I believe some celebrities need to maintain a mysterious professionalism. Such a mysterious professionalism is essential to their technical capitals. I am not saying that artists such as painters or directors have secrete weapons or secrete methods. Over-exposing their creating process or personal imageries always has me question what make you special? If you are such a mundane human, why can't I create excellent art like you do?

AROUSAL AND DOMINANCE
10-29-19

The dimensions of arousal and dominance does explain what some posts on social media can have more likes and some can not. I think posts of funny memes are high-arousal, because they can evoke happiness. They are also high or medium-dominant; some people might admire how smart the meme creator is. I am not sure whether the two dimensions can explain why sexy bikini photos can attract so many likes. In a way, those posts do consider high-arousal and high-dominant. People who like those posts might admire the bloggers' body shapes and the superficial sexiness. However, I find a lot of people like me who never follow those accounts because to us, those posts are superficial and boring. They are low-arousal and low-dominant.

I guess the dimensions of arousal and dominance are good predicators for the popularity of social media posts in different niches of audience. The way how people see each post to be high or low-arousal is different. I can imagine some posts I find high-arousal might be low-arousal to other people. For example, I love watching posts about people's table set-up. How organize they are? Which monitor and computer they are using? What brand of desk it is? What type of chair they are sitting on. I really like learning about those geeky stuffs and I understand that not everyone love learning about that. If we introduce a third dimension that can categorize the audience into different representative niches. The dimensions of arousal and dominance might be even more effective predicators.

CELEBRITY INC
10-17-19

Celebrities are nothing like us. Most of them are also not talented. They don't seem to possess the quality and talent that can justify their extremely high salary. Celebrities are products in a game called "The Hollywood Industrial Complex." The game is a stock market of frame, which in some ways is the same as gambling. You might think you are insightful enough to find evidence a company's stock value will increase soon. If it turns out to be true, you are just luck and it is a coincidence. If it turns out to be wrong, don't blame yourself. You never could know in the first place. Celebrities are puppets controlled by their marketing team to generate values from us to keep the business running. Author Jo Piazza might foresee the revolutionary change, a rebirth of entertainment industry in a digital age. At the same time, another kind of internet celebrities is raising. They look like they don't have any marketing team. They seem closer to us. They seem more genuine. They seem have the talent or specialty we like and we will go to watch their videos. They are YouTubers.

Celebrities are nothing like us. Most of them are also not talented. They don't seem to possess the quality and talent that can justify their extremely high salary. Celebrities are products in a game called "The Hollywood Industrial Complex." The game is a stock market of frame, which in some ways is the same as gambling. You might think you are insightful enough to find evidence a company's stock value will increase soon. If it turns out to be true, you are just luck and it is a coincidence. If it turns out to be wrong, don't blame yourself. You never could know in the first place. Celebrities are puppets controlled by their marketing team to generate values from us to keep the business running. Author Jo Piazza might foresee the revolutionary change, a rebirth of entertainment industry in a digital age. At the same time, another kind of internet celebrities is raising. They look like they don't have any marketing team. They seem closer to us. They seem more genuine. They seem have the talent or specialty we like and we will go to watch their videos. They are YouTubers.

SCRIPTED GAMES & 9.9% ARISTOCRACY
10-09-19

People might know WWE, car racing, NBA, Football competition are all scripted but they refuse to admit. When Shawn Michael wins the competition, Bret Hart experienced the real confusion any wrestler in the world never experienced until now. Although Shawn doesn't follow the script, but Bret's confusion does reaffirm that such a script exists and people should follow it. It really blows my mind. I personally refuse to watch WWE because I can't stand its brutality. If everything is scripted, wrestlers are not actually fighting but acting. The business nature of hosting games and competitions predicates the fact that everything is scripted. I heard a lot of my friends who watch NBA saying that even though rules say four out of seven wins the final, the association will always make the games to six rounds. It is rarely seen in the history that a team wins consecutively for four rounds. The associate can make more money out of the extra two rounds. Often as an audience you can see which team will win the final at around three or four rounds because referees will clearly demonstrate an unfair protection to the team over the other. How ridiculous it is.

The central problem behind the 9.9 percent Aristocracy is that inequality is irreversible. People get stuck in their class and they will tend to get stuck it forever. Higher class people will use their advantage to become more advantageous. The correlation about education and martial status does resemble to what I learn in another class which studies marriage from a sociological perspective: Children of Divorce. Receiving a good education is really a deciding factor to pretty much everything. Since going to college becomes more and more expensive, the door of education close to poor people. It is true that the American Divorce rate is constantly increasing. The reason is not that the more educated people are, the more independent they will be and the less likely they will get married. It is quite the contrary. It is us who receive good education and decent income in the future. We will more likely to get marry at later ages, have a stable family, raise kids than poor people. The less advantageous still want to marry but less likely to do so because they are unable to.

THE STUPIDITY OF REALITY TV & FAN MAKING
10-01-19

I sincerely look down on any fan schools. JRP calling itself the reputable and oldest fan school is one of the most sarcastic things I ever heard. I am not against celebrities in general. I celebrate the achievements made by celebrities who are hard-working, talented, eminent in their areas of specialty, but the business of fan-making looks so superficial and stupid to me. "Tips on training your eyes to sparkle." "9 ways to put charm in your voice." "how to buy a hat." Do you even believe that being charismatic and charming can be as superficial as a few tips? Making a child believe that after going to celebrity school he/she will be famous is really as ridiculous as it sounds. Emma stone is one of my favorites actresses. After she won the Academy Award for best acting because of La La Land, I did feel happy for her, but I read a news article: before Emma taking her very first "formal" acting role in movie "Easy A," she actually dropped out of high school. Trying to convince her parents in her decision, she even made PowerPoint to explain her plan to move to Hollywood and to chase her acting dream. I certainly don't approve her method. Statistically speaking, there might be thousands of teenagers make the same decision like Emma but ends up with nothing. How many of them can get a chance to win an Oscar. Very very few. If fan-making turns into a business, the business does can produce a tiny number of celebrity. However, how about the majority of the kids who receive no formal education but superficial knowledge on how to become famous. How about them?

I certainly don't approve the method of fan-making. What I can even not stand is the stupidity of Honey Boo Boo. Watching "the family of six chopping up a roadkill deer for dinner, belly-flopping in the mud" is such a stupid thing that I will not spend any second of my life watching those silly stupid crap. The more and more unequal of the distribution in power mentioned in the article is never an excuse because identifying myself as a filmmaker I believe as content creators we share the social responsibility to reverse the trend and to educate the audience what is good and what is bad. It is true that we cannot educate everyone. There are always people having really bad taste. Some people might argue that watching reality TV like Honey Boo Boo do feel comforting, but what Honey Boo Boo does is feed the audience for meaningless purpose. The true purpose of any media content should be inspiring and thought provoking.

CELEBRITY MOOD BOARD
09-24-19

I brand myself as an influential movie director which I really want to be, of course, not because I want to be famous. I believe in my own aesthetics and tastes to tell stories which are unique to my culture and haven't been told. I notice that common celebrities' social media pages tend to feature themselves and what "they" are doing rather than "what" they are doing. Since I want to brand myself as the Wizard (I am the wizard behind the scene, directing the film). I want people to focus on my works: my films, so the only color images among the nine pictures are the screenshots of my films. However, I also want to make people interested in how I direct the films and how the films are made (the magics behind) so each screenshot has its unique behind the scene photos with myself in it, to show the process.

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THE "POOR" MINDSET
09-24-19

Poor people are poor not only in terms of their wealth but also their mindset.

If at one point of their lives, they cannot realize the importance of getting better education, their "poor" mindset will make them even more poor. For rich or middle-class people, their mindset which is mostly the result of better education will definitely make them better and more meaningful lives. The difference between poor and rich mindset can be seen in many aspects. For example, if someone wants to have more money, poor people tend to cut their spending and deposit as much as possible. In their mindset, the best way of having more money is to save it. However, for rich or middle class people, they know how to use money to make money. Of course, there is risk involved but the rate of profit is way higher than poor people can even imagine. In their mindset, they understand how to evaluate the risk of losing but gain a higher chance of profit.

The same logics also applies to buying stuff. They tend to buy luxurious products to show off their "wealth." I believe the article illustrates their inner desire of buying unnecessary expensive products pretty well. What I want to add on is the idea of long term investment and how uneducated poor people can not realize its importance. As we can see from the first example about making money, the reason why poor people tend to deposit is that they can know what they have and what they save right at the moment. What they cannot see and the rich or middle-class people can see is the potential profit coming from a long-term investment. We are willing to sacrifice not having the money right now to receiving a much higher interest rate for the future. If someone wants to buy a vacuum cleaner, poor people will definitely go to buy the one which has probably the highest discount because they believe they are smart and have saved a lot of money. What poor people cannot see is that for the real high-quality well-designed vacuum cleaners, they are always relatively expensive and never have discount. For rich and middle-class people, they might spend 700 dollars buying a Dyson V10 vacuum cleaner. What they received is a much better using experience which helps them increase their life quality. The long term benefits of a good vacuum cleaner to their health, using experience, living quality worth way more than 700 dollars.

FANDOM PILGRIMAGE
09-16-19

We did our fan activity for the most famous YouTuber at NYC: Casey Neistat. We went on a pilgrimage to Casey's studio at downtown Manhattan near China Town. We were unable to get into the studio but it was still interesting to hang around at the front door, the iconic white front door. It was a place he probably went by a million time in his v-logs on YouTube. We could also see his studio through the windows. I saw his iconic shelf where Casey stores all his electronic devices which can be dated back to APPLE iMac G3.

FAMOUSE ON INTERNET & BEYOND SUBSISTENCE
09-16-19

The podcast shows a concerns about the long-term development for internet celebrities such as YouTubers. It is impossible for them to create high quality content for free. Most YouTubers did create content for free at the beginning of their career but never in long run. It is totally free to watch YouTube videos, so many people believe what sponsorship? I guess what people should accept at this point is sponsorship is necessary because it can not only give YouTubers sustainable supports but also help them create high quality content for us. There is a website called Patreon where people can support their favorite internet celebrities by donating a certain fee every month. I notice that many YouTubers started to create exclusive content just for their Patreon supporters. I think that logically makes real sense. Having exclusive content not only can differentiate the importance of supporters from other users but also attract more supporters, which in long run will motivate the YouTuber to create even better content.

The growth of movies and its celebrities does create more opportunities for women's upward mobility but such a trend is still way less enough to create an sexually equal film industry from a modern point of views. Sternheimer does stress the importance of the early 20th century movie industry in offering women careers and independence they never had before. The onscreen roles and behind screen jobs both greatly promote sexual equality by providing women stable employments. Movies also create positive and inspiring female characters, such as Kathlyn Williams, the "Jungle Actress." However, all those efforts are meaningful but insufficient. Sternheimer mentions that at that time men still controlled the funding and the directing, while they still control them today. Based on my understanding of current movie industry, major areas with relatively balanced gender ratio include production design, producing, screenwriting, make-up, and acting. There are a lot of active award-winning female production designer, producers, screenwriters and etc. However, directors and cinematographers are still majorly male dominated. Only six women are nominated for Best Picture in Oscar's 91 years old history and only one female cinematographer is nominated for Best Cinematography. To create a film industry that embraces diversity, we still have a long way to go.

DIRECTOR FANDOM TIMELINE
09-09-19

I specify the my celebrity fandom timeline to movie directors that have inspired me. I link the debut time of their films to my thoughts on the directors. As you can see, I am greatly influenced by three directors: Christopher Nolan, David Fincher and then Quentin Tarantino. Christopher Nolan is the first one that becomes my number one director of all time because of his sci-fi masterpiece Inception. David Fincher is the second one, but his starting point is pretty high, as you can see from the Social Network. However, for Steven Spielberg, I was shocked by the amazing stories and visual effects of his Jurassic Park, when I watched it at 6 years old. I gradually lose interest in his later films for not having a consistent, unique visual style and impressive stories.

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TEEN TITAN & MUSIC LOVERS
09-09-19

Celebrities are influenced by celebrities. That is true. The teen titan really tells a story about how the celebrities and fictional characters influence and shape the celebrities of next generation. Scooter Braun frequently compares the artist he managed to the celebrities and fictional characters he admired. He commends the fact that Justin Bieber can sing, dance, play instruments by saying that "Justin Bieber was born with the Superman powers." To me what Braun does is to glorify something normal (the fact that someone is able to sing, dance, and play instruments is not a big deal) to something amazing. His relationship with many artists and people he helped to become famous can also illustrate that. It is the ability to believe in things and take encouragement from it. Then the questions arises. To me, some fictional characters do serve similar functions as celebrity. Are they counted as celebrity as well?

Cavicchi introduces the idea of "audiencing" the reception of performances and works from the perspective of music and listening. In the first two chapters, Cavicchi explores how the practice of audiencing was established in the urban areas and how it is related to other listening practices in church, theater, and oratory. The audience practices deeply embedded in music history. In some ways, it defines what music is and how should we enjoy and perceive it. The book makes me think of the audiencing practice in another art form: film. The common audiencing practice for film is going to movie theater. However, because of the widespread influence from Netflix, there have been many debates about whether internet movies are still considered movies because those movies, mostly funded by Netflix and Amazon, can only be watched online. Without the experience of watching movies in theaters, many people deny internet movies as real movies. One of the three most well-known European film festivals Cannes has closed its door for any internet movie a few years ago. The debates are quite complicated. Influential directors such as Martin Scorsese, the director of "Taxi Driver" and "Goodfellas," used to be against internet movies. Having trouble finding investment for his latest Gangster movie "The Irishman," Scorsese received funding from Netflix. He started to accept the business model of internet movies. Cavicchi shows us how young people integrated music into identity formation. Will our conventional understanding of movies be changed by internet technology? Will people accept that movies which we would never be able to see in the theaters are still movies? Time will tell us the answer.