Creativity Bytes: A Brief Guide To Glitch Art
Here’s a quick reference guide that will seek to explain the trends, terms, and movements of the brave new media world of art and technology. So you can skim, digest, and be a pseudo-expert next time you’re cornered at a Speed Show exhibition in your local cybercafe. Because, hey, life is short and art long. This week: Glitch art.
So, what is glitch art?
An aesthetic of the digital age. Let’s face it—our gadgets are imperfect. With electronic devices come bugs, with bugs come malfunctions and with malfunctions come glitches. And from this: glitch art, a celebration of these technological mishaps. Sometimes the glitch aesthetic is synthesized in non-digital mediums, but more often the glitch is recreated in a digital environment by either reproducing the conditions that caused it or by manipulating them.
Where did it come from?
The first recorded use of the term “glitch” in the English language is attributed to US astronaut John Herschel Glenn who, during a routine space program, used the word to describe technical problems they were experiencing. When asked to explain himself he said, "Literally, a glitch is a spike or change in voltage in an electrical current.” Now the term is used to describe any malfunction or mishap. Aesthetically and formally speaking, “glitch art” recalls the geometric art of abstract modernists and cubists, and the many ways in which artists like John Cage experiment with chance and spontaneity are similar to the practice of glitch artists.
This week you’re really digging…
Wayne Edson Bryan’s glitch-inspired hand drawn enamel paintings, which use iconography from the sciences and images associated with computers to kick consumerist culture in the motherboard. Also, Dutch visualist Rosa Menkman’s digital accidents.
Finding form in disintegration is the name of the game. Imperfection is perfection. In these times of the gleaming futurist aesthetic, when shiny and sleek new is the zeitgeist (ahem, Apple), glitch art looks to key that beautiful flying car hovering over the driveway in order to remind us of the joy of disruption, the pleasure of the broken. It’s the local mayor interrupting a sophisticated dinner party to accidentally DJ some Southern punk rock. And if you’re feeling the desire for defects, you can upload your work to Flickr’s Glitch Art pool and head on down to Chicago’s 2011 GLI.TC/H festival to be with fellow revelers in the art of the flawed.
Describe yourself as…
A matrix in the glitch.
Corruption, code, data, error, manipulate, digital, analogue, malfunction, crash, bug.
To err is human, to glitch, machine.
To recap: Like a visual version of circuit bending, it’s a celebration of the aesthetics of machine error and imperfection.
Next week: Net art.