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The Glitch Moment(um)

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ConTenTs
ACknowledGeMenTs  InTroduCTIon  GlITCh sTudIes MAnIfesTo  A TeChnoloGICAl ApproACh To noIse 

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LinearProgressionandtheMythofPerfectTransmission NoiseArtifacts EncodingAndDecoding:CompressionArtifacts AVernacularOfFileFormats OrderlyChaos:FeedbackArtifacts The OtherNoiseArtifact:Glitch


The perCepTIon of GlITCh 

TheMeaningOfNoise TheGlitchMoment(um):AVoidInTechno-Culture TechnorealismAndtheAccidentOfArt


A phenoMenoloGy of GlITCh ArT 

00 ThePredicamentsOfDefiningGlitchArt 00 CategoricalPrecursors:ABinaryApproachToGlitchArt? 00 FromPassiveAppropriationOrPureGlitchArtToActive,Post-ProceduralGlitchArt 00 Post-proceduralGlitchArtOrtheIntentionalFauxPas 00 TheConceptAndTechniqueOfRuin 00 CreatingthePerfectGlitchUsingCriticalMediaAesthetics 00 TheTippingPointofCool;CriticalMediaAesthetics'BecomingCommodities 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

froM ArTIfACT To CoMModITy 

FromCircuitBendingtoSimulation FromDataBendingtoTranscoding FromEnchantingAffectToFilteredEffect TheGlitchArtGenre:BetweentheVoidAndCommoditizedForm TheGenreParadox


orGAnIzInG GlITCh spheres 

GlitchArtNetworked SomeFinalReflectionsOnTheGlitchSpheres
The eMAnCIpATIon of dIssonAnCe GlITCh  BIBlIoGrAphy 

Colophon
Network Notebooks editors: Geert Lovink and Sabine Niederer Producer of this publication: Margreet Riphagen Copy editing: Rachel O'Reilly Design: Studio Lon&Loes, Rotterdam http://www.leon-loes.nl Printer: Printvisie Online Publisher: Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam Supported by: School for Communication and Design at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Domein Media, Creatie en Informatie) and Stichting Democratie en Media. The glitch moment(um) is composed of texts that have been extended and reworked by Rosa Menkman, 20042008. If you want to order copies please contact: Institute of Network Cultures HvA Interactive Media Singelgrachtgebouw Rhijnspoorplein 1 1091 GC Amsterdam The Netherlands http://www.networkcultures.org books@networkcultures.org t:+31 (0)20 59 51 866 f: +31 (0)20 59 51 840 A pdf of this publication can be freely downloaded at: http://www.networkcultures.org/networknotebooks This publication is licensed under the Peer Production License (2010). Commercial use encouraged for Independent and Collective/Commons-based users. To view a full copy of this license, see page 44 of this publication. Amsterdam, October 2011. ISBN/EAN 978-90-816021-6-7

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The Network Notebooks series presents new media research commissioned by the INC. PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED NETWORK NOTEBOOKS Network Notebooks 03: Dymtri Kleiner, The Telekommunist, 2010. ISBN: 978-90-816021-2-9. Network Notebooks 02: Rob van Kranenburg, The Internet of Things: A critique of ambient technology and the all- seeing network of RFID, 2008. ISBN: 978-90-78146-06-3. Network Notebooks 01: Rosalind Gill, Technobohemians of the new Cybertariat? New media work in Amsterdam a decade after the Web, 2007. ISBN: 978-90-78146-02-5.

Acknowledgements
IamverythankfultotheInstituteofNetworkCulturesforsupportingmeandmylovefor glitch,andfordevotingoneoftheirpublicationstothissubject.Iamespeciallygrateful toGeertLovink,notjustforhisendlessinsightsintoandsupporttowardsallfringesof digitalculture,butspecificallyforpushingmeintounexpectedterritories.Ihavetothank JodiforopeningmyeyelidsandGoto80foropeningmyearlids,andforthejourneywe shared.Besidesthis,IhaveKarlKlomptothankforhistechnicalsupport.  AnnetDekkerandJosephineBosmawrotethefirsttextsthatshowedmeawayintotheorizingglitchartIhavetothankthemforwritingthosetextsandalsoMatthewFullerfor theconversationthatwehadthedayhewelcomedmeintohisoffice,whichIconsiderthe startingpointforthistext.Specialthankstomyeditor,Rachel,whoworkedlonghours reviewingmyglitches.  Finally,IwouldliketomakeashoutouttoThegli.tc/h/botsandallbrokenexecutables everywhere,forbringingmelatenightUnicodebarf,alltheorganizersoffestivalsIhave attendedandallthepeoplewhohavesupportedmeinthelastyears,artistically,theoreticallyandtechnically.Finally,myfamilyandclosefriendsmaygoodspambewithyou.

Introduction
Glitchfirstcameintomylifein2005,whenIvisitedtheworldwidewrongexhibition bytheDutch/BelgiumartistcollectiveJodi(JoanHeemskerkandDirkPaesmans)atMonteVideo/TimeBasedArtsinAmsterdam(nowknownastheNIMK,NetherlandsMediaArt Institute). An introductory text on the work of the artists by Annet Dekker went a long wayinarticulatingtheartistsdeconstructivemethods.However,theworkthatmadethe biggestimpressiononme,untitledgame(1996-2001),whichwasamodificationofthe videogamequake1,seemedthemostincomprehensible.Icouldonlyunderstanditas irrationalandvoidofmeaning,andsoIwalkedawayfromit,confusedandtitillated.In hindsight,Ilearnedaboutmyselfinthatmomentaboutmyexpectationsandconceptionsofhowavideogameshouldwork.Thestrangegameseemedonlytoreturnmetomy ownperspectivesandexpectationsaroundthemediumthatitwasfailingtobe.Asecond text by Josephine Bosma usefully outlined Jodis active deprogramming of computers, andtheparadoxesandtensionsinherenttotheirworkingmethod.Evenstill,untitled game in particular remained for me under-articulated in theory, which increased my curiosityaboutthiskindofartpractice.Ididnotrealizeitthen,butmytasteforglitch, andforitspotentialtointerrogateconventionsthroughcrashes,bugs,errorsandviruses, was spawned by that initial andpersistent critical evasion of untitledgamefrommy theoreticalgrasp. Attheendofmymasterthesisin2006,whichfocusedonJodisworkuntitledgame, IhadstillnotyetreferredtoJodisartworkasglitch artIonlymentionedthewords glitchandbuggy.Thisisprobablybecausethenotionofglitchartwasjustcrossingover fromsoundculture,andleakingintovisualartculturesonlysporadically.01Glitchmore fullyenteredmyvocabularyforvisualsandnetworkswhenIbegananartisticcollaborationwiththemusicianGoto80(AndersCarlsson)in2007.HeexplainedtomehowheexploitedtheCommodore64soundchip(theSIDchip)forthecreationofmusic.Thebugs Goto80usedgaveaveryspecifictexturetothesound(theresultofnoise artifacts)andI begantodevelopandrecognizevisualequivalentstothisprocess.Ifoundmoreandmore artifact-basedcorrespondencesbetweenaudioandvisualtechnologies,suchascompressions,feedbackandglitches,inmyatthattimemostlyonlineartpractice.Theninearly 2008,GeertLovinkinvitedmetotheVideoVortexconferenceforavisualliveperformance (which was quite a challenge since I had never stood onstage before) and in 2009 put meintouchwithMatthewFuller,anartist,authorandlecturerinLondon,whichlater turnedout to be two keyturning points,artistically and theoretically. Ibegan performingandmorestronglytheorizingwhatIwasthencallingmyacousmaticvideoscapes.02 I explained to Fuller my observations of compressions, feedback and glitches in sound

01|Aroundthistime,therewereonlyafewpeopleusingthetermglitchartinthecontextofthevisualarts:AntScotthadbeenworkingonhis glitchartsinceJuly2001andwasalsooneofthekeyperformersataGlitchfestivalthattookplaceinNorwayin2002.Besidesthis,Iman MoradijustfinishedhisGlitchAesthetics-dissertation(2004)inwhichheusedthetermsglitchartandglitchdesigninterchangeably.The termglitchartfirstenteredWikipediain2007,whereitwasexplainedasmanipulatedB-moviesanderoticart,alsoknownasasubsetof RapeArt.Thisdescriptionchangedonlyin2009.InconversationwithMoradi,weagreedthatthetermonlypermeatedvisualarttheoryanda generalvocabularyafter2005,ifnotacoupleofyearslater.

02|InreferencetoPierreSchaeffer,Icalledthesevideosvideoscapes.Thesevideosfollowedthelogicofacousmatics;Irefusedtheaudience knowledgeovertheinstrumentandthusdeniedthemtheirinherentculturalconditioningthatwouldotherwisehelpthemintheirprocessof makingmeaning.Indoingso,Iputinfrontofthemtheunseenvisualartifacts,frombehindPythagorascurtain-theshrouded,blackveilof technology,http://videoscapes.blogspot.com/

andtheircorrespondencestothevisualsphere,whopointedmetotheearlyinformation theory of Claude Elwood Shannon and Warren Weaver. Their work proved most useful tomyprojectofdevelopingatechnology-drivenframeworkfortheorizingtheseusually unwelcome,increasinglyexploitednoise artifactsinwhichmypracticewassoinvested. In the beginning of 2010, I developed and distributed the glitch studies manifesto (2010) in which I argued in favor of more critical attention to glitchs increasing ossificationinstandardizeddesign.03Ialsowroteavernacularoffileformats(2010),a workinthegenreofahandbook,intendedtomorerigorouslycommunicatethetechnicalspecificationsofall(ormost-used)digitalcompressionartifactsthatcouldbecreated through random data insertion at that historical moment.04 This comprehensive PDF guidetocompressionartifactswaspositivelyreceivedbytheglitchcommunityandalso spawnedmynextproject,theco-developmentofapieceofgenerativeglitchdesignsoftwaretogetherwithJohanLarsby,calledmonglot(2011).monglotmadeitpossiblefor anybody, without extensive data corruption skills, to technically interrogate and learn aboutthedevelopmentofspecificglitchformations.05 MorerecentlyIhavemergedmytechnical,narrativeandhistoricalcomprehensionofdigitalglitchcultureintoanaudiovisualperformancecalledthecollapseofpal(2010),in whichthe(PaulKlees)AngelofHistory,asnarratedbyWalterBenjamin,reflectsspecificallyontheendingofPAL,theanalogPhaseAlternateLinetelevisionsignal.Byintroducingacriticalandmelodramaticnarrativetoaworkofglitchart,Itriedtounderlinethat thereismoretoglitchart,andmoreatstake,thanjustdesignandaesthetics.Thework addresses themes such as planned obsolescence, built-in nostalgia, critical media aestheticsandthegentrificationandcontinuingdevelopmentofaglitchartgenre.Finally,I havebeenparticipatingincriticalcommunitybuildingaroundglitch,inmyworkasco-organizerandco-curatoroftheGLI.TC/HfestivalalongsideJonSatrom,NickBrizandEvan Meaney.ThefirstinstallmentofGLI.TC/HtookplaceinChicagoin2010andwashugely successful.In2011theGLI.TC/HfestivalwillspreadtoAmsterdamandBirmingham. Everyformofglitch,whetherbreakingaflowordesignedtolooklikeitbreaksaflow,will eventuallybecomeanewfashion.Thatisfate.Thisisbecauseofglitchsinherentlycriticalmoment(um)aconceptIusethroughoutmyworktoindicatethepotentialanyglitch hastomodulateorproductivelydamagethenormsoftechno-culture,inthemomentat whichthispotentialisfirstgrasped.InthispublicationfortheInstituteofNetworkCultures,Ihaveconsolidatedmyeffortsatwritingintothesilences,under-articulatedtheoriesandassumedmadnessofdigitalglitchart.Thebookmakessenseofrecentglitchart, technically,culturally,critically,aestheticallyandfinallyasagenre.Ibringintheearlyinformationtheoristsnotusuallystudiedastheoreticalfoundationsfordigitalartpractice (ShannonandWeaver)toconsiderandrefineasignalandinformationalframeworkappropriatetoglitchstechnologicaloriginsandorientations.Igooninlaterpartstobuild
03|RosaMenkman,GlitchStudiesManifestoinGeertLovinkandRachelSomersMiles(eds)VideoVortexReaderII:movingimagesbeyond YouTube,Amsterdam:InstituteofNetworkCultures,2011,pp.336-347,http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17713740/Glitch%20Studies%20Manifesto%20rewrite%20for%20Video%20Vortex%202%20reader.pdf. 04|RosaMenkman,avernacularoffileformats,August2010.http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9054743/lofi%20Rosa%20Menkman%20-%20A%20 Vernacular%20of%20File%20Formats.pdf. 05|JohanLarsbyandRosaMenkman,monglot,2011.<http://rosa-menkman.blogspot.com/search/label/Monglot.

thetermglitchmorebroadlythanthistechnologicalbeginning.Idescribetheglitchasa (actualand/orsimulated)breakfromanexpectedorconventionalflowofinformationor meaningwithin(digital)communicationsystemsthatresultsinaperceivedaccidentor error.Aglitchoccursontheoccasionwherethereisanabsenceof(expected)functionality,whetherunderstoodinatechnicalorsocialsense.Therefore,aglitch,asIseeit,isnot alwaysstrictlyaresultofatechnicalmalfunction. Atthesametime,theoristsneedtobemoreclearabouttherelationshipbetweentechnical andmetaphoricalorculturaldimensionsofglitchculture.Focusingontheglitchwithin thisbroaderperspectivemakesitpossibletothinkthroughsomeofthemoreinteresting political and social uses of the glitch within the field of digital art. Glitch makes sense differentlyintermsofnoise,failureandaccident.Moreover,glitchtransitionsbetween artifact and filter, or, in other words, between radical breakages and commodification processes.Finally,glitchcouldbesaidtoexist,inallofitstensionsandthroughallkinds ofculturalfeedback,asarecognizablegenreofart.Finally,Ifinishupwitharelational visualization of the glitch cultural communities and scenes that this book attempts to makesenseof.

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Glitch studies Manifesto


1. The dominant, continuing search for a noiseless channel has been and will always be no more than a regrettable, ill-fated dogma. Acknowledgethatalthoughtheconstantsearchforcompletetransparencybringsnewer, bettermedia,everyoneoftheseimprovedtechniqueswillalwayspossesstheirowninherentfingerprintsofimperfection. 2. Dispute the operating templates of creative practice. Fight genres, interfaces and expectations! Refusetostaylockedintoonemediumorbetweencontradictionslikerealvs.virtual,obsoletevs.up-to-date,openvs.proprietaryordigitalvs.analog.Surfthevortexoftechnology,thein-between,theartofartifacts! 3. Get away from the established action scripts and join the avant-garde of the unknown. Become a nomad of noise artifacts! The static, linear notion of information-transmission can be interrupted on three occasions:duringencoding-decoding(compression),feedbackorwhenaglitch(anunexpectedbreakwithintheflowoftechnology)occurs.Noiseartistsmustexploitthesenoise artifactsandexplorethenewopportunitiestheyprovide. 4. Employ bends and breaks as metaphors for diffrance. Use the glitch as an exoskeleton for progress. Find catharsis in disintegration, ruptures and cracks; manipulate, bend and break any mediumtowardsthepointwhereitbecomessomethingnew;createglitch art. 5. Realize that the gospel of glitch art also tells about new standards implemented by corruption. Notallglitchartisprogressiveorsomething new.Thepopularizationandcultivationof theavant-gardeofmishapshasbecomepredestinedandunavoidable.Beawareofeasily reproducibleglitch effectsautomatedbysoftwaresandplug-ins.Whatisnowaglitchwill becomeafashion. 6. Force the audience to voyage through the acousmatic videoscape. Create conceptually synaesthetic artworks that exploit both visual and aural glitch (or othernoise)artifactsatthesametime.Employthesenoiseartifactsasanebulatoshroud the technology and its inner workings and to compel an audience to listen and watch moreexhaustively. 7. Rejoice in the critical trans-media aesthetics of glitch artifacts. Utilizeglitchestobringanymediumintoacriticalstateofhypertrophy,to(subsequently) criticizeitsinherentpolitics. 8. Employ Glitchspeak (as opposed to Newspeak) and study what is outside of knowledge. Glitch theory is what you can just get away with! Flowcannotbeunderstoodwithoutinterruption,norfunctionwithoutglitching.Thisis whyglitchstudiesisnecessary.

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A Technological Approach To noise


Since, ordinarily, channels have a certain amount of noise, and therefore a finite capacity, exact transmission is impossible.01
- Shannon Weaver

lIneAr proGressIon And The MyTh of perfeCT TrAnsMIssIon


In1948,ClaudeShannon,todayknownasthefounderofinformationtheory,developeda basicmathematicaltheoryofcommunicationwhileworkingintheBellTelephonelaboratoriesintheUSduringtheSecondWorldWar.Shannonsmainconcernwastoworkout awayinwhichthechannelsofcommunicationcouldbeusedmostefficiently.02Inthe model,Shannonreducedcommunicationtoaprocessoftransmittinginformation,and distinguishedinformationfromthecategoryofamessage.Hewrote: Thefundamentalproblemofcommunicationisthatofreproducingatonepoint either exactly or approximately a message selected at another point. Frequently the messages have meaning; that is they refer to or are correlated according to somesystemwithcertainphysicalorconceptualentities.Thesesemanticaspects ofcommunicationareirrelevanttotheengineeringproblem.Thesignificantaspectisthattheactualmessageisoneselectedfromasetofpossiblemessages.The systemmustbedesignedtooperateforeachpossibleselection,notjusttheone thatwillactuallybechosen.03 Shannonbasedhismathematicaltheoryofcommunicationonthefundamentthatinformationdoesnotchangewhenitscontextchanges.Healsosuggestedthatcommunicationsystemscouldroughlybedividedintothreemaincategoriesdiscrete,continuous andmixedallfollowingabasicmodelforcommunication.Inthesesystems,informationcanbeunderstoodasaquantity,ayesornodecision,abit.04Themodelthushas applications not only in communication theory, but also in the theory of computing machines, the design of telephone exchanges and other fields.05 Building on the prior workof,amongothers,HarryNyquistandRalphHartley,Shannondevelopedthislinear modeltocalculateandoptimisethesignaltonoiseratio(ameasurethatcomparesthe levelofadesiredsignaltothelevelofbackgroundnoise).BecauseShannonfocusedon thetransmissionofinformationbetweenmachinesandnotonthetransmissionofmeaningbetweenhumanbeings,themodelmakesitpossibletoconsidernoisefromapurely mathematicallevel,whilebracketingtoonesidetheinfluenceofculture,linguisticsor othercontextualfactorsthatbringcommunicationintotherealmofinterpretationand

01|ClaudeElwoodShannon,AMathematicalTheoryofCommunication,ReprintedwithcorrectionsfromTheBellSystemTechnicalJournal, Vol.27(July,October,1948):p.48. 02|SusanBallard,Information,Noiseandetal,M/CJournal,10.5(October,2007),http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0710/02-ballard.php. 03|ClaudeElwoodShannon,AMathematicalTheoryofCommunication,ReprintedwithcorrectionsfromTheBellSystemTechnicalJournal27 (July,October,1948):p.1. 04|SusanBallard,Information,Noiseandetal,M/CJournal,10.5(October,2007),http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0710/02-ballard.php. 05|ClaudeElwoodShannon,AMathematicalTheoryofCommunication,reprintedwithcorrectionsfromTheBellSystemTechnicalJournal, Vol.27(July,October,1948):p.3.

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meaning.Thismakeshisworkconsiderablyabstract,whileopeninguppossibilitiesfor consideringnon-human,machiniccommunicationmorecogently,asthestartingpoint fortheorizingnoise.

viSualization of the communication model aS outlined by Shannon and Weaver.

Shannons modelling of communication, in terms of signal and noise, consists of five basic steps. The transmission of information begins at the information source, which producesthemessage.Atransmitter encodesthemessagesinsignalsmadesuitablefor transmission,whichitthensendsthroughachannel.Areceiver decodesthemessagefrom thesignal,tofinallydeliverthemessageinitsproperformtothedestination,themachine forwhichthemessageisintendedorwherethemessagearrives.06Themodelinformationsource->encoder->channel->decoder->destinationthatShannonconstructedalso includesanadditionalarrowinsertingnoiseintothechannel,whichisasixth,disruptive, externalfactor.07Insignalprocessingtheory(whichhasexistedindifferentformssince the17thcentury),noiseisgenerallyconsideredintermsofthemechanicalimprecisionof instrumentation.08Shannonsadaptationofsignalprocessingtocommunicationtheory accountsforexternalnoisebeingintroducedtothesignalwhileitisintransmission,to obscurethepurityofthesignal.Thiskindofexternalnoisehasaparticularmateriality andentersintotheequationasunexplainedvariationandrandomerror.09 In addition to this first kind of noise, Shannon also described a second kind of noise calledentropy,whichisencodedwithinthemessageitself.Entropy,takenfromthefield andtheoriesofthermodynamics,isthemeasureofdisorderofasystematagiventime. Accordingtothermodynamics,itisinherenttoanysystemofinformation,naturalortechnological,totendtowardsdisorderortofallapartcompletely.Thisentropicorientation isessentialandinsomeways,positive,becauseitcantellsomethingabouttherelationships between the material bodies, representations and spaces connected together for

06|ClaudeElwoodShannon,AMathematicalTheoryofCommunication,ReprintedwithcorrectionsfromTheBellSystemTechnicalJournal, Vol.27(July,October,1948):p.2. 07|ClaudeElwoodShannon,AMathematicalTheoryofCommunication,ReprintedwithcorrectionsfromTheBellSystemTechnicalJournal, Vol.27(July,October,1948):p.2. 08|PaoloPrandoniandMartinVetterli,SignalProcessingforCommunications,Lausanne:EPFLPress,2008,http://www.sp4comm.org/webversion.html. 09|SusanBallard,Information,Noiseandetal,M/CJournal,10.5(October,2007),http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0710/02-ballard.php.

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thepurposesoftransmission.Followingthis,itisimportanttorealisethatinShannons communicationmodel,informationisnotonlyobfuscatedbynoise,itisalsodependent uponitforcorrecttransmission.Withoutnoise,eitherencodedwithintheoriginalmessage,orpresentfromsourcesoutsidethechannel,therecannotbeafunctioningchannel. Noiseservestocontextualizeinformation;informationneedsnoisetobetransmittedsuccessfully.Consequently,withoutnoisethereisnoinformation.10Shannoneventuallywith WeaveradaptedthismathematicalmodelintoTheShannonandWeavermodelofcommunication, bringing machine communication theory to the consideration of human communication,byincorporatingNorbertWienerscyberneticconceptoffeedback.11 Inoptimisingsignaltonoiseratios,Shannonwasworkingverymuchinlinewithwhat hasbecomethedominant,modernistandeventwentiethcenturyidealfortechnology: thenotionoftheoptimallytransparentchannel.(Iuse'transparent'throughoutthebook todescribetheassumptionthattechnologycanbe"see-through",ordoesnotintervene intotheprocessofsendingorperceivinginformation.)Withinmediadesignanddevelopmentcultures,thepursuitofultimate,noise-freeandhi-fichannelsandsupposedhighest levelsofrealityhastendedtobetheHolyGrail(epitomizedforexampleasmediadreams intheHolodeckofStar Trek,orthedirectbraincinemaofBigelowsStrange Days,andso on).12Whiletheidealisalwaysunreachable,innovationisneverthelessstillassumedto lieinfindinganinterfacethatisasnon-interferingaspossible,enablingtheaudienceto forgetaboutthepresenceofthemediumandbelieveinthepresenceanddirectnessof immediatetransmission.AsBolterandGrusinnoteinRemediation(2001),ourculture wantstomultiplyitsmediaandtoerasealltracesofmediation:ideally,itwantstoerase itsmediaintheveryactofmultiplyingthem.Itistheverylogicofimmediacy,accordingtoBolterandGrusin,whichdictatesthatthemediumitselfshoulddisappear.13An exampleofthisisthecomputersGraphicalUserInterface,whichwasdevelopedtoletusersinteractwithmultipleelectronicdevicesusinggraphicsratherthancomplicatedtext commands.Thisdevelopmentmadethesetechnologiesmoreaccessibleandwidespread, yetmoreobfuscatedintheirfunctionalities.Indeed,whatmakesanymediumspecificis howitfailstodisappearastechn.Tostudymedia-specificartifactsistotakeinterestin thefailureofmediatodisappear,orinotherwords,innoiseartifacts.

10|SusanBallard,Information,Noiseandetal,M/CJournal,10.5(October,2007),http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0710/02-ballard.php. 11|ThefactthatShannonandWeaverapproachedhumancommunicationwithamodeldevelopedforthetransmissionofinformationand thusdidnotconsiderthedifferenceofthehumanprocessofmakingmeaningresultedinheavycriticismfromotherhumancommunication theorists,whoeventuallydevelopedmodifiedandalternativemodels.Thesemodelsoftenemphasisedthefactthatcommunicationdoesnt meanthetransmissionofinformation,butratherthatmeaningisactivelyconstructedbyboththeinitiatorsandinterpreters.In1954,Wilber SchrammadjustedShannonandWeaversmodel,puttinggreateremphasisontheprocessofencodinganddecoding.Thisalterationwaslater adoptedbyStuartHall,whowroteaboutencodinganddecodingfromtheperspectiveofmasscommunication(principallyintelevision). TheonlyothermediatedcommunicationmodelthathasgainedawideusagesinceShannonandWeaveristhecommunicationmodelby McLuhan.McLuhanessentiallyarguesthatmediationandcommunicationiswhatweallliveinsideof,thereforecannotbecaughtinone transparentmodel.McLuhandropsthesourceandthesenderthatencloseShannonscommunicationmodel.Healsorejectsthenotion ofmathematicsandmostlyfocusesontheinfluenceofthemediumoverthecontentofthemessage.AccordingtoMcLuhan,themedium shapesthecontentofthemessage:themediumforinstancechangesthescale,paceorpatternofthemessage.AlthoughIamawarethat aspectsofbothMcLuhansandShannonandWeaversworkcanbeappliedtoglitchindifferentways,Ibelievethatforthepurposesofmy researchthemodelofShannonandWeaverismostclearlyusefulasabasic,informationalapproachtonoise. 12|MichaelHeim,TheMetaphysicsofVirtualReality,NewYork:OxfordUniversityPress,1993.p.122. 13|JayDavidBolterandRichardGrusin,Remediation:UnderstandingNewMedia,Massachusetts:MITPress,1999.pp.5-6.

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noIse ArTIfACTs
WhilethelinearcommunicationprocessdescribedbyShannonisreasonablydeterministic,itspredictabilityisunderminedbytheoveralladditionofnoise,whichrevealsitself onthesurfaceoftheinformationandiscategorizableasnoiseartifacts.Typesofnoise artifactsdependontheformoftheinformation,includinghowitisshapedbyencoding/ decoding(inthedigitalrealmthisprocessmaterializesde/compression artifacts)ormisshapedbysignalcorruption,whilstintransmission.Feedbackisanotherdifferentiation ofasignalfromthelineartransmissionmodelthatcanalsoleadtoparticular,mediumspecific artifacts. Once their cause is known, different forms of noise artifacts can be namedaccordingtothesethreecategories.Eachcategoryofinterruptioninvolvesitsown technicalaesthetics,shapedthroughmediaspecificity.

enCodInG And deCodInG: CoMpressIon ArTIfACTs


Todayscommunicationstrivestobecomeexponentiallyfasterand(partlyasa consequence)tobecomemoretransparent.Inthepresentpursuitofimmediacy, signalspeedhasbeenincreasinglyprioritized.Incontrast,earlierdevelopmentsin audioandvideotechnologiesfocussedonthereductionofnoiseinordertoimprove mediaexperientialquality.Todayqualityseemstobeofsecondaryimportance;recent technologicaldevelopmentsappeartoreverseordownplaythefocusonsignalqualityas agenuinedigital-culturalconcern. Withthehelpofmorepowerful(transfer)protocolssuchasen/decodingorcompression algorithms,informationcantravelfasterandfurther.Acompressionreorganisesinformation,thetimeandspacethroughwhichtheelementsofsoundandimagesarecommunicated,byscaling,reorderinganddecomposing.14Compressioncanbequitecomplex. Consider a single file. First there is a file format, which can be a container of, for example,soundandimage(examplesincludeMPEG,AVIorMOV).Thiscontainerpossesses the meta-information about what type(s) of compression-decompression protocol(s) or codecsareneededtostoreandtransfertheinformationortoviewthedataobject.The containerthusdoesnotcarrythecompressionalgorithmitself.Insteadtheseareinstalled onthecomputerintheformofcodecs.Besidesthis,therearetwodifferentkindsofcompressionprotocols:losslessandlossy. Lossless and especially lossy compressions have become almost ubiquitous, whereas original RAW (uncompressed) information is considered now rare and relatively unwieldy,especiallyintherealmsofdigitalmusic,photographyandcinema.Losslesscompressedfilescanberebuiltexactlythewaytheywerebeforebeingcompressed,andretain all information during the process. Contrarily, a good example of new lossy data compressiontechnologiesisthemp3dataformat,whichhasmadeitpossibletodistribute musiceasily,butinlowerqualitythantheCD(whichusesanuncompressedlinearPCM organisation). Lossy data compression takes a pragmatic, versioned distance from the originalfile.Thiscompressionfocusesonlyonthedatathatisimportantfortheeyeand/

14|AdrianMackenzie,Codecs,inMatthewFuller(ed.)SoftwareStudies,Massachusetts:MITPress,2008,pp.48-55.p.36.

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ortheeartoperceiveanddiscardstheinformationthatisbelievedtobeoflesserimportance.Forvideoimagesforinstance,perceptiondependsonthethresholdsofluminance (brightness)andchrominance(colouring)inspaceandtime.Therefore,videocodecsare designedaroundthetransmissionofthesetwovaluesasefficientlyaspossible.Therise oflossyfileshasresultedincontemporarymediaconsumptionpracticesinwhichnoiseis increasedratherthandecreased. Most compressions are relatively concealed. They rarely come to the surface to explicitlyrevealtheirlanguage,orsystemofrules.Theyhavebeenbuilt,debuggedandtested manytimesinorderforthemtoseemnegligible,orindeed,torecedeintotransparency. However,everyde/encoding(orcompression)technologyhasitsvisibleandlessvisible artifacts,thatwillbeabletocometothesurfacewheneitheranerrorcorruptstheimage information,ortheencoding/decodingprocessmalfunctions.

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A VernACulAr of fIle forMATs15


The only resolution to the problem of non-communication was to incorporate it within the system.16
- friedrich Kittler

A PhotoshoP RAW imAge (.RAW). | thiS iS the original, uncompreSSed (raW) Source image, Which i Will glitch throughout thiS chapter, in order to outline a condenSed verSion of my vernacular of file formatS. the image iS a video Still, Which iS Why it involveS (nearly inviSible) Scan lineS. theSe lineS are from the original video.

Rawimagefilescontainminimallyprocesseddata(pixels)fromtheimagesensorof,for instance,adigitalcameraorimagescanner.ThefileheaderofaRAWimagetypicallycontainsinformationconcerningthebyte-orderingofthefile;thecamerasensorinformation andotherimagemetadatalikeexposuresettings;thecamera,scannerorlensmodel;the date(and,optionally,place)ofshootingorscanning;theformat,sizeandnumberofcol- ors;aswellasotherinformationneededtodisplaytheimage.

15|Thissectionisinfactacondensedadaptationofmy2010artwork,VernacularofFileFormats. 16|FriedrichKittler,DraculasVermchtnis:TechnischeSchriften,Leipzig:ReclamVerlagLeipzig,1993.p.242.

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A dAtA bent PhotoshoP RAW, (h=0) imAge (.RAW). | thiS image WaS conStructed by opening the original three channel interleaved raW image aS a Single channel (Single color/greyScale) interleaved document. the image generated iS a reverSible databend. thiS image iS uncompreSSed.

It is possible to save a RAW image file without a header (when you open the image in Photoshop,forexample,youcanchooseheader=0inapop-upbox).WhentheRAWimage is saved withouta headerthecomputerdoesntknow the dimensions orany other crucialinformationthatisneededtoreconstructtheimageoutoftheimagedata.This opensupcreativepossibilities.Itisforinstancepossibletoinputnewdimensionsforthe image,changetheamountofcolorchannelsorchoosewhetherornottheimagewillbe displayedasinterleavedornon-interleaved.InthecaseofaRAWimagefile,interleavingandnon-interleavingrefertotheorderinwhichtheRGB(Red,GreenandBlue)color valuesofeverypixelarestored.InaninterleavedRAWimage,thedataisstoredinaRGBRGBRGBsequence.Whentheimageissavedinnon-interleavedorder,theRGBvalues arenotorderedsequentiallybuthavetheirownlayers.Bydeviatingfromthevaluesofthe originallyrecordedimage,theimagecanbedisplayedinadistortedwayandthestructure ofthefilebecomesvisible.

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A dAtA bent bitmAP imAge (.bmP). | thiS bmp image WaS data bent by copy-paSting a Selection of random image data over and over into the original file. the image generated iS an irreverSible databend. thiS image iS uncompreSSed.

The BMP file format is uncompressed. Every bit that indexes a bitmap pixel value is packedwithinalinearrowandprocessedinareversedordertothenormalimageraster scanorder,startinginthelowerrightcorner,advancingrowbyrowfromthebottomtothe top.Thisiswhy,whenyoucopy-pastejustsomepartsoftheimagedata,thelowerpartof theimagedataandtheimageitselfwillremainintact,whiletheupperpartoftheimage shiftshorizontally. InBMPfiles,andmanyotherbitmapfileformats,thecolorpaletteconsistsofablockof bytes(atableorpalette)listingthecolorsavailableforuseinaparticularindexed-color image.Eachpixelintheimageisdescribedbyanumberofbits(1-32bitcolordepth)that indexasinglecolorfromthecolorpalette,whichisdescribedrightaftertheheader.The BMPcolorpaletteusestheinterleavedRGBcolormodel.Inthismodel,acolordependson differentintensities(from0to255)oftheprimaryRGBcolors.Acoloristhusdefinedby thefinalintensitiesofR+G+B.Whenyoucopy-pastetheimagedata,certainshiftswithin theRGBvaluesmaytakeplace;theintensityofthedatafromBcan(forinstance)shiftto R,creatingsuddendiscoloredblocks.

19

gRAPhics inteRchAnge FoRmAt imAges (.giF). | left: a gif image featuring truncation (involving quantization error). right: a gif image in Which quantization error iS minimized through the uSe of dither artifactS. the gif compreSSion iS loSSleSS.

TheGraphicsInterchangeFormatisabitmapimageformatthatsupports8bitsperpixel. Thiscompressioncanthereforeconsistofnomorethen256colors.Theformatsupports animationandemploysdither(agrainorblockartifact),whichcanbeintentionallyappliedasaformofnoisetorandomizequantizationerror(s).Quantizationreferstothe procedureofconstraininginformationfromarelativelylargeorcontinuoussetofvalues (suchasrealnumbers)toarelativelysmalldiscretesetdifferencebetweentheactualanalogvalueandquantizeddigitalvalueofcolor.Quantizationerroristhusanerroroften impactinguponcolor,causedbytruncation(thediscardingoflesssignificantcolorinformation). Ditherhelpstopreventimagesfromdisplayingortransformingintolarge-scalepatterns such as banding (a stepped process of rendering smooth gradations in brightness or hue). Moreover, because the human eye perceives the diffusion caused by dither as a mixtureofthecolors,unavailable(cutoutoruncodable)colorsareapproximated.This createstheillusionofcolordepth.

20

graphicS interchange format imageS (.gif). thiS interlaced gif image WaS data bent by the introduction of a random error to the information data. the image generated iS an irreverSible databend.

Thegifformatusesafourpassdimensionalinterlacingstrategy.Thisbasicallymeans thattheimage,consistingofdifferentrowsofpixels,decodessomerowsofpixelsbefore otherrows.Theexampleimageshowsthedisplacementofthedifferentrowsduringweaving(theputtingtogetherofthetwolayers),resultingincombingartifactswithjagged edges.

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A dAtA bent PRogRessive Joint PhotogRAPhic exPeRts gRouP imAge (.JPeg). thiS baSeline Jpeg image WaS data bent by the introduction of a random error to the information data. the image generated iS an irreverSible databend. the Jpeg compreSSion iS loSSy.

A JPEG compression consists of 6 subsequent steps: 1. Color space transformation.Initially,imageshavetobetransformedfromtheRGBcolorspacetoanothercolorspace(calledYCbCr),thatconsistsofthreecomponentsthat arehandledseparately:theY(lumaorbrightness)andtheCbandCrvalues(chromaor colorvalues,whicharedividedintohueandsaturation). 2. Down sampling.Becausethehumaneyedoesntperceivesmalldifferenceswithinthe CbandCrspaceverywell,theseelementsaredownsampled(theirinformationisreduced). 3. Block splitting. After the color space transformation, the image is split into tiles or macroblocks,whicharerectangularregionsoftheimagethataretransformedand encodedseparately.

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an 8 8 dct baSiS function of a Jpeg With differentiated macro blocKS (.Jpeg).

4. Discrete Cosine Transform. Next, a discrete cosine transform (which works similar totheFourierTransformfunctionexploitedindatamoshingandmacroblockexperimentstowhichIwilllaterrefer)isusedtocreateafrequencyspectrum,totransformthe 88blockstoacombinationof64two-dimensionalDCTbasisfunctionsorpatterns(as mappedoutbythelines). 5. Quantization. During the quantization step, the highest brightness-frequency variationsbecomeabaseline(or0-value),whilesmallpositiveandnegativefrequencydifferentiationsaregivenavaluethatstartsfromthisbaseline,whichtakesmanyfewerbitsto represent. 6. Entropy coding. Finally, entropy coding is applied. Entropy coding is a special form oflosslessdatacompressionthatinvolvesarrangingtheimagecomponentsinazigzag order.Thisallowsthequantizedcoefficienttabletoberewritteninazigzagordertoasequenceoffrequencies.Arun-lengthencoding(RLE)algorithmgroupssimilarfrequenciestogetherandafterthat,viaHuffmancodingorganizeswhatisleft. 23

a data bent baSeline Joint photographic expertS group image (.Jpeg). thiS baSeline Jpeg image WaS data bent by the introduction of a random error to the information data. the image generated iS an irreverSible databend. the Jpeg compreSSion iS loSSy.

BecausetheRGBcolorvaluesofJPEGimagesaredescribedinsuchacomplexalgorithm, randomdatareplacementscanalsoresultintodramaticdiscolorationanddisplacement. TheveryhighcompressionratioofaJPEGaffectsthequalityoftheimageandthesizeof theartifacts.Whenusingquantizationwithblock-basedcoding,asIhavedoneinthese JPEG-compressedimages,severaltypesofartifactscanappear,forinstanceringingor ghosting,blockingandjaggies.Theimageshowsblockingorstaircaseartifactsappearingmostclearlyalongthecurvingedgesasaresultofthe88JPEGblocks.Blockiness inbusyregionsissometimesalsoreferredtoasquiltingorchecker-boarding.Jaggies istheinformalnameforartifactsinrasterimages.Theyareoftentheresultofpooraliasing,whichhappenswhenaJPEGsignalreconstructionafterdownsamplinghasproduced onlyhighfrequencyoutcomes.

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A dAtA bent Joint PhotogRAPhic exPeRts gRouP committee 2000 imAge (.JPF). | thiS Jpeg 2000 image WaS data bent by the introduction of a random error to the information data. the image generated iS an irreverSible databend. the Jpeg 2000 compreSSion iS loSSy.

TheJPEG2000standardisacompressionstandarddevelopedespeciallyforthemedical imagingindustrybecauseofthemanyedgeandblockingartifactspossiblefortheJPEG format, which can cause catastrophic misreadings in medical pictures. JPEG 2000 has improvedscalabilityandedit-ability.InJPEG2000,afterthecolortransformationstep, the image is split into so-called tiles, rectangular regions of the image that are transformedandencodedseparately.Tilescanbeanysizeanditisalsopossibletoconsider thewholeimageasonesingletile.Thistilingprocessturnstheimageintoacollection ofsub-bands,whichrepresentseveralapproximationscales.Asub-bandisasetofcoefficientsthatrepresentaspectsoftheimageassociatedwithacertainfrequencyrangeas wellasaspatialareaoftheimage.Thequantizedsub-bandsaresplitfurtherintoprecincts;rectangular regionsinthe waveletdomain.A wavelet is awave-like oscillation withamplitudethatstartsoutatzero,increases,andthendecreasesbacktozero.Itcan typicallybevisualizedasabriefoscillationlikeonemightseerecordedbyaseismograph orheartmonitor.Precinctsaresplitfurtherintocodeblocks,whicharelocatedinasingle sub-bandandhaveequalsizes.Thechrominancecomponents(ofJPEG2000)canbe(but donotnecessarilyneedtobe)downscaledinresolution;infact,sincethewavelettransformationalreadyseparatesimagesintoscales,downscalingordownsamplingismore effectivelyhandledbydroppingthefinestwaveletscale. 25

orderly ChAos: feedBACk ArTIfACTs


Feedback,acategoryofnoise,isacircularprocessinwhichapartoftheprocesssoutput isreturned(fedback)totheinput,influencingthefuturebehaviouroftheprocess.The additionoffeedbackchangesthecommunicationmodelconsiderably,fromalineartoa non-linearmodeloftransmission,whichalsoopensthemodeluptonewformsofnoise. Feedback then is both an artifact within digital technologies and a generative quality availableinmanycommunicationmedia. Norbert Wiener established the foundations of cybernetics (in 1948) by describing the principleofcyberneticfeedback.Hewrotethatinafeedback-orientedsystem,thefactual outcomehastobecomparedwiththeintendedoutcome.Iftheintendedconditionisnot reached,itispursuedthroughfeedback,eitherbyincreasingordecreasingthedifference. Anexampleofsuchasystemisforinstanceathermostat,butmorecomplexexamples includesignal(forinstanceaudio)equalizersorthestockmarket.17

The other noIse ArTIfACT: GlITCh


Malfunction and failure are not signs of improper production. On the contrary, they indicate the active production of the "accidental potential" in any product. The invention of the ship implies its wreckage, the steam engine and the locomotive discover the derailment.18
- paul virilio

Whenthecauseofanoiseartifactisknown,theartifactisoftennotreferredtoasnoise,but insteadisnamedafteritstechnicalcause,forinstanceasacompressionartifact(jaggies, macroblocking, checkerbording) or feedback artifact. The difference between compressionandfeedbackartifactsisthusnotalwaysstrict.Whenthesourceofthenoiseartifact isnot(yet)known,thenoisebecomespuzzling.Inthedigitalrealm,thiskindofnoiseis oftenreferredtoasglitch.Glitch,anunexpectedoccurrence,unintendedresult,orbreak ordisruptioninasystem,cannotbesingularlycodified,whichispreciselyitsconceptual strengthanddynamicalcontributiontomediatheory.Fromaninformational(ortechnological)perspective,theglitchisbestconsideredasabreakfrom(oneof)theprotocolized dataflowswithinatechnologicalsystem.AccordingtoTheAmericanHeritageDictionary oftheEnglishLanguage,thewordglitchwasfirstrecordedinEnglishin1962inthewritings ofastronautJohnGlenn,whodescribesglitchasatermadoptedbyhisteamtodescribe someofourproblems.Glenngivesthetechnicalsenseofthewordthattheastronautshad adopted,asliterallyaspikeorchangeinvoltageinanelectricalcurrentonlytonotehow thatmorespecifictechnicaldefinitionwassoonappliedtoarangeofother,not-yet-specifiedproblems.Closetothemomentofitsinceptionthen,glitchalreadypassesbeyond specifictechnicalusetodescribeawidevarietyofmalfunctionsandmishaps.19

17|NorbertWiener,Cybernetics:OrControlandCommunicationintheAnimalandtheMachine,Paris:Hermann&Cie&Camb,1948. 18|SylvereLotringerandPaulVirilio,TheAccidentofArt,Semiotext(e):NewYork,2005.p.2. 19|TheAmericanHeritageDictionaryoftheEnglishLanguage,FourthEdition,HoughtonMifflinCompany,2004.http://dictionary.reference. com/browse/glitch.

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Theresultofaglitchcanrangesignificantly,fromacatastrophetojustaminorhiccup orslip.Inthecaseofminorglitches,theinformationalinputs,encodingordecodingor othertechnologicalprotocolsarerevealedtobeatsomepointerroneous,whiletherest ofthesystemorthepartsprocessingthedataflowswithinthatsystem(thehardware,softwareorforinstancethemonitorinterface)continuetofunction,anddisplaytheerrorridden output unscrutinized. When the glitch is more disastrous, the system might not functionproperlyatall,oreverreturntoitsnormalmodeofoperation. Fromamediacultureperspectivethen,thetermglitchreferstoanotyetdefinedbreak fromaproceduralflow,fosteringacriticalpotential.HereIuseproceduralasamoniker from procedural programming (or imperative programming), to reference series' of computationalstepsthatmustbecarriedoutinorderforaprogramtoreachadesired state.Onceaproceduralflowisbroken,therearetwopossiblewaysinwhichtheglitch tendstomove.Ifthecauseofthemachineserraticbehaviorbecomesknown,theglitch tipsandbecomesasimplebugreportofafailure,inwhichitwillbedescribedunderits technologicalname(whichatthatpointisoftenacompressionartifact).However,ifthe causeoftheglitchremainsunknown,theglitchcaneitherbeignoredandforgotten,or transformedintoaninterpretationorreflectiononaphenomenon(orthememorythereof)definedbyasocialorculturalcontext(conventions,histories,perspectives)andthe technologythatismalfunctioning.Inshort, failure is a phenomenon to overcome, while a glitch is incorporated further into technological or interpretive processes.Accordingly,when theglitchopensuptotherealmofsymbolicormetaphoricalconnotations,theinterruptionshiftsfrombeingastrictlyinformationalortechnologicalactuality,intoamorecomplexpost-proceduralphenomenontobereckonedwith.

27

The perception of Glitch


Our taverns and our metropolitan streets, our offices and furnished rooms, our railroad stations and our factories appeared to have us locked up hopelessly. Then came the film and burst this prison-world asunder by the dynamite of the tenth of the second, so that now, in the midst of its far-flung ruins and debris, we calmly and adventurously go traveling.01
- Walter benJamin

The MeAnInG of noIse


Todevelopacategorizationofnoiseforcontemporaryaudio-visualmediatheory,Ihave usedClaudeShannonsmathematicaltheoryofcommunication.Inhisdefinitionofinformationalnoise,Shannonconvenientlyfocusedonthetransferofinformationbetween machines,leavinghumanelementsandcontextoutoftheequation.DrawingonShannonsmodel,Iwasabletodividedigitalnoiseintothreebasiccategoriesofnoiseartifacts: encoding/decoding artifacts(which aremost often referred toas compression artifacts), feedback artifactsandtheothercorruptionsknownasglitch artifactsartifactsforwhich thecausesarenot(yet)known.Itisimportanttorealizethatthedifferencebetweeneach oftheseartifactsisnotrigid,asthedescriptionofaglitchartifactcanbeunderstoodas ade/compressionorfeedbackartifact(andvisaversa),dependingontheviewersknowledgeofthetechnology.Inthecontextofhuman-computercommunication,Ialsodeviate fromShannonandWeaverandbelievethattheconceptofnoisebecomesmorecomplex asitconnotesmeaningandtranslation.Consequently,human-computerdefinitionsof noisemustalsoincludesocialparametersandbecomemorecomplex,inevitablynegotiatingquestionsofcontext,perceptionandaesthetics. The etymological definition of noise refers to states of aggression, alarm and powerful sound phenomena in nature (rauschen02). When the concept of noise is approached withinasocialcontext,noisedoesnotexistindependently,butonlyinrelationtowhat it is not. However complex or inclusive noise appears as a signifier, it is always a kind ofnegativity:itstandsforunacceptedsound,notmusic,invalidinformationortheabsenceofamessage.Noiseisunwanted,otherandunordered.Accordingly,thereisalso nounequivocalculturaldefinitionofnoise,becauseintheend,whatnoiseisandwhat noiseisnot,isasocialmatter.AsJamesBradyCranfield-Rosewrites,noiseisacipher, aquestionmark,forevereludingfixeddefinitions.03Furthermore,whicheverwaynoise isdefined,itsnegativeorientationalsohaspositive,criticaldimensions.Noisetendsto reflexivelystageareconsiderationorre-viewitsoppositetheworldofmeaning,norms andregulations,goodness,orbeauty.04

01|WalterBenjamin,TheWorkofArtintheAgeofMechanicalReproduction,inHannahArendt(ed.)Illuminations,NewYork:Schocken,1968, pp.219-254.p.236. 02|TorbenSangild,TheAestheticsofNoise,Copenhagen:Datanom,2002.www.ubu.com/papers/noise.p.5-8. 03|JamesBradyCranfield-Rose,Tick-tick-tick-tick-tickOval,theglitchandtheutopianpoliticsofnoise,unpublishedmasterthesis,Burnaby, Canada:SimonFraserUniversity,2004.p.13,http://lib-ir.lib.sfu.ca/handle/1892/8961. 04|PaulHegarty,Noise/Music:AHistory,LondonandNewYork:Continuum,2007.p.5.

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The GlITCh MoMenT(uM): A VoId In TeChno-CulTure


Noiseaestheticsposebothatechnologicalandperceptualchallengetohabitualorideologicalconventions.Whilemediadevelopersdesigntheirtechnologiesinorderthattheuserwill forgetaboutthepresenceofthemedium,followingtheideallogicoftransparentimmediacy, inreality,thecomplexityoftheusersinherentlyaestheticandperceptualresponsestothe humancomputerinterfacerequiresamorenuancedapproach.AsErnstGombrichdeclared: Howeverweanalysethedifferencebetweentheregularandtheirregular,wemustultimately beabletoaccountforthemostbasicfactofaestheticexperience,thefactthatdelightlies somewherebetweenboredomandconfusion.05Situationsofeitherextremeimmediacyor extremereliabilitydonotcontributeasmightbeexpectedtotheactualrichnessofamedia experience.Mostpeopleneedsomekindofinterplaybetweensurpriseanduniformityto keepthemactivelyinvolved.06Expandingonthisimportant,indeedintegralroleofirregularityandsurpriseinhumanperception,GombrichquotesAdelbertAmes,Jr,whoexplains: theorganismiscontinuallycomparingtheprognosisofthecontinuallychanging newexternaleventswithhisdeterminedframeofsignificance.Iftheyconform,i.e. work,heisnolongerinterested;butinsofarastheydonot,hehastotakestockof thesituation.Therearethreepossibilitieseitherhisframeofsignificancesmay bewrong,orhisimmediatesenseresponsemaybewrong,orboth.Inanycase,he hasaproblemtosolve.07 The first encounter with a glitch comes hand in hand with a feeling of shock, with beinglostandinawe.Theglitchisapowerfulinterruptionthatshiftsanobjectawayfrom itsflowandordinarydiscourse,towardstheruinsofdestructedmeaning.Thisconcept offlowIemphasizeasbothatraitwithinthemachineaswellasafeatureofsocietyas awhole.DeLandadistinguishesbetweenchaoticdisconnectedflowsandstableflowsof matterthatmoveincontinuousvariations,conveyingsingularities.08DeLandadrawshere onDeleuzeandGuattari,whodescribeflowintermsofthebeliefsanddesiresthatboth stimulateandmaintainsociety.Theywritethataflowissomethingthatcomesintoexistenceoverlongperiodsoftime.Withintheseperiods,conventionsareestablished,while deviationstendtobecomerareoccurrencesandareoften(mis)understoodasaccidents (or glitches). Although meaningful aspects of every day life might in fact be disclosed within these rare fluctuations, their impact or relevance is often likely to be ruled out, becauseofsocialtendenciestoputemphasisonthenorm.09 Aglitchisthemostpuzzling,difficulttodefineandenchantingnoiseartifact;itrevealsitself toperceptionasaccident,chaosorlacerationandgivesaglimpseintonormallyobfuscated

05|ErnstHansJosefGombrich,TheSenseofOrder:AStudyinthePsychologyofDecorativeArt,London:PhaidonPress,1984.p.9. 06|RobertPepperell,Computeraidedcreativity:practicalexperienceandtheoreticalconcerns,inProceedingsofthe4thconferenceonCreativity&cognition,Loughborough,UK:ACM,2002.pp.50-56,http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=581710.581720&type=series. 07|Ames,Jr.Adelbert,ThemorningNotes,inErnstHansJosefGombrich,TheSenseofOrder:AStudyinthePsychologyofDecorativeArt, London:PhaidonPress,1984.p.117. 08|ManuelDeLanda,WarintheAgeofIntelligentMachines,NewYork:ZoneBooks,1991.p.20. 09|GillesDeleuzeandPierre-FlixGuattari,AThousandPlateaus:CapitalismandSchizophrenia,Trans.B.Massumi,Londen:TheAthlone Press,1988.p.219.

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machinelanguage.Ratherthancreatingtheillusionofatransparent,well-workinginterfacetoinformation,theglitchcapturesthemachinerevealingitself.Televisionisarguably oneofthemoreflow-centric,ideologicallytransparentmediaforms.InTelevision: Technology and Cultural Form(1974),Williamsdescribesaviewerfrequentlycaughtupinaflowof technologyanditscontents.Heemphasizesthattheprocessofthisflowseemsnatural,but isinfactstrictlyguidedbylargercorporationsandpowers.Whena(televisual)flowbreaks, theusercomestowitnessonlyshredsoftheflowthroughwhichthemessageisnormally transmitted,whilethemachinicfunctionsthatareconventionallyrelieduponasobfuscatedarerevealed.10Whenasupposedlytransparentinterfaceisdamagedinthisway,the viewer is momentarily relocated to a void of meaning. Interruptions like these are often perceivedasdisastrous,threateninganduncanny.Sometimestheycreateamomentwhere seeminglyanysensethatcouldbemadeofasituationiseliminatedfromthoughtorpossibility.Onotheroccasions,themetaphoricalimpactoftheunspeakablemediaticdisaster alsobringswithitthetendencytoreflect(onforinstancewhatthedifferentiationfromthe flowmeans).EricKluitenbergdescribeshowthiswasthecaseonSeptember11,2001,when theCNNwebsitetemporarilywentdownandablackscreenrepeatedlyinterruptedtheflow ofthetelevisionbroadcast.Hereferstothesemomentsintimeas theruptureofprofessionalmediacodes,whichsignaledcompletepanicanddisarray[],theinfinityofpossiblealternativediscourses,ofotherpossiblemodesof explanationandinterpretation.11 Whatischallengedorbroughtforwardinthecaseofthevoidistheideaofauthorship itself, which, prior to this supposedly voiding moment, was in fact neutralized from media-culturalexperience.Itispossibletorealizeatthispointandonlybelatedlythat theconventionsoftheseamlesssurfaceofthenetworkedmediaspectacleitself,andits illusionofstability12tendtoforecloseanysenseofauthorshipwhatsoever.Inmediaaccidents like these, the void involves the unknown  that which cannot be described or planned for. These empty spaces of non-understanding trigger a horror vacui: a fear of voidstowhichnothingelsecanbecomparedandthatisbeyondallpossibilitiesofcalculation,measurementorimitation.13However,theseterrifyingvoidsalsocreateaformof counter-experience,anegativepleasurethatisnotsodifferentfromtheproto-modern, aestheticconceptionofthesublime(describedasearlyas1693inJohnDennisswritings ontheAlps),ascontradictoryandimmensedelightthatisconsistentwithreasonbutyet, mingledwithHorrors,andsometimesalmostwithdespair.14 Likeinthisnature-generatedsublime,theglitchisanuncannyoroverwhelmingexperienceofunforeseenincomprehension.Experiencingaglitchisoftenlikeperceivingastun-

10|RaymondWilliams,Television:TechnologyandCulturalForm,Hanover:UniversityPressofNewEngland,1974. 11|EricKluitenberg,DelusiveSpaces.EssaysonCulture,MediaandTechnology,Rotterdam:NAiPublishersandAmsterdam:Instituteof NetworkCultures,2008.p.357. 12|EricKluitenberg,TransfigurationoftheAvant-Garde/TheNegativeDialecticsoftheNet,postingtonettimemailinglist,23January,2002, http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-0201/msg00104.html. 13|EricKluitenberg,DelusiveSpaces.EssaysonCulture,MediaandTechnology,Rotterdam:NAiPublishersandAmsterdam:Instituteof NetworkCultures,2008.p.333. 14|JeffreyBarnouw,TheMoralityoftheSublime:ToJohnDennis,ComparativeLiterature,Vol.35,No.1(Winter,1983):p.21-42.

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ningly beautiful, brightly colored complex landscape of unexplainable, unfathomable and otherworldly images and data structures. A glitch represents a loss of control. The worldortheinterfacedoestheunexpected.Itgoesbeyondthebordersofitsknownand programmed territories, changing viewers about technology and its assumed functions (aswasforinstancethecaseduringtheSeptember11broadcast),andcomestoseemprofoundlyirrationalinitsbehavior.Theglitchmakesthecomputeritselfsuddenlyappear unconventionallydeep,incontrasttothemorebanal,predictablesurface-levelbehaviorsof normalmachinesandsystems.Inthisway,glitchesannounceacrazyanddangerouskind ofmoment(um)instantiatedanddictatedbythemachineitself. Theconceptofmoment(um)istwofold:firstofallthereisthemoment,whichisexperiencedastheuncanny,threateninglossofcontrol,throwingthespectatorintothevoid(of meaning).Thismomentthenitselfbecomesacatalyst,withacertainmomentum.Noise turnstoglitchwhenitpassesamomentarytipping point,atwhichitcouldtipawayinto afailure,orinsteadforcenewknowledgeabouttheglitchstechn,andactualandpresumedmediaflows,ontotheviewer. Throughthedistortedimagesandbehaviorsofmachinicoutputs,thevieweristhrown intoamoreriskyrealmofimageandnon-image,meaningandnon-meaning,truthand interpretation.Themachinenolongerbehavesinthewaythetechnologywassupposed to.Itsglitchinginterface,strangesoundsandbrokenbehavioralpatternsintroducetensionintouserintentions;anastonishingimage(orsound)mustbesomehownegotiated amidstanormallymuchmoreboringmasqueradeofhumancomputerrelations.Though atfirsttheviewerreactswithshockandperceivestheexperienceasaloss,theglitchcannotbesubduedasasolidstateofperception.Justastheunderstandingofaglitchchanges onceitisnamed,sodoesthenotionoftransparencyorsystemicequilibriumsupposedly damagedbytheglitchitself.Theoriginalexperienceofruptureismovedbeyonditssublimemoment(um)andvanishesintoarealmofnewconditions.Theglitchhasbecome anewmode;anditspreviousuncannyencounterhascometoregisterasanephemeral, personalexperienceofamachine.

TeChnoreAlIsM And The ACCIdenT of ArT


I can no longer use the figure without destroying it, so Id rather be abstract.15
- marK rothKo

Notionsofdisaster,aestheticsoffailureandaccidentaleventshavebeenintegraltomodern and contemporary art, Avant-Garde progressions and turnings. With the growing importanceoftechnology,especiallysointhemoderncentury,itistheaccidentthatbecomes immanenttoculture,asViriliohasemphasizedmoststronglyamongmediatheorists: Toinventthesailingshiporsteameristo invent the shipwreck.Toinventthetrain isto invent the rail accidentofderailment.Toinventthefamilyautomobileisto producethepile-uponthehighway.Togetwhatisheavierthanairtotakeoffinthe

15|SylvereLotringerandPaulVirilio,TheAccidentofArt,Semiotext(e):NewYork,2005.p.22.

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formofanaeroplaneordirigibleisto invent the crash,theairdisaster.Asforthe spaceshuttle,Challenger,itsblowingupinflightinthesameyearthatthetragedy ofChernobyloccurredistheoriginal accidentofanewmotor,theequivalentofthe firstship-wreckoftheveryfirstship.16 In correlation with Gombrich, Virilio argues that although many people encounter accidents as negative experiences, an accident can also have positive consequences. The accidentdoesntonlyequalfailure,butcanalsorevealsomethingabsolutelynecessary toknowledge.17ToVirillio,theaccidentresidesbeyondtheclassicaloppositionoffunctionalversusdysfunctional.IntheintroductiontotheDeaf98festivalReader,whichwas largelydedicatedtoViriliostheoriesontheaccident,theaccidentisevendescribedas hyper-functional.Theaccident(andthustheglitch)showsasysteminastateofentropy andsoaidstowardsanunderstandingoftheultimatefunctioningofasystem.Thisopens upspaceforresearchandpractice,andtheartsareaspecialdomainforthis.18 InThe Accident of Art(2005),Virilioarguedthatartitselfhasbeenterrorizedbythelast century;ithasbeendevastatedconsecutivelybythetwoWorldWars,theHolocaustand nuclearpower.DadaistsandSurrealistscannotbeunderstoodwithoutWorldWar1;they areitscasualties,thebrokenfacesorwarvictimsthatusedautomaticwritingastheir machine-gun.19 Virilio explains how WW1 blew reality into pieces and how the cubist painterGeorgesBraquecollectedthosepiecesandputthembacktogether,notjustasa formalistexperimentorasadestructionofperspectivebutasanartisticrealismappropriatetothetechno-culturalpresent.ForVirilio,whilefigurativeworkretreats,thiscategory ofAbstractartisnotreallyabstract.20Becausethewardisfigured,destroyedandmutilatedreality,asmuchasitdidhumanbodiesandoutdoorspaces,realistconventions(formerly/formallyunderstood)werenolongerreproducible.Thus,manyartistscouldonly usesome(destroyedormutilated)formoffiguration.ThisunderstandingleadsVirilioto concludethatintheartoftheaccident,thereshouldbeadifferentiationbetweennonfigurativeanddisfiguredart.21Suchaformalcomprehensionoftechnologicalrealisms makesforallkindsofdisasteroraccidentrelatedart.Inthedigitalrealm,whathascome tobeknownasglitchartdealswiththedigitaldimensionoferror,accidentanddisaster fromdifferentangles,withinalargercontextofculturalmeaning.

16|PaulVirilioandJulieRose,TheOriginalAccident,Cambridge:PolityPress,2007.p.10. 17|SylvereLotringerandPaulVirilio,TheAccidentofArt,Semiotext(e):NewYork,2005.p.63. 18|AndreasBroeckmann,JokeBrouwer,BartLootsma,ArjenMulderandLarsSpuybroek,TheArtoftheAccident,NAIPublishers/V2_Organisatie:Rotterdam,1998.p.3. 19|AndreasBroeckmann,JokeBrouwer,BartLootsma,ArjenMulderandLarsSpuybroek,TheArtoftheAccident,NAIPublishers/V2_Organisatie:Rotterdam,1998.p.3. 20|SylvereLotringerandPaulVirilio,TheAccidentofArt,Semiotext(e):NewYork,2005.p.19-21. 21|SylvereLotringerandPaulVirilio,TheAccidentofArt,Semiotext(e):NewYork,2005.p.19-21.

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A phenomenology of Glitch Art


Failure has become a prominent aesthetic in many of the arts in the late 20th century, reminding us that our control of technology is an illusion, and revealing digital tools to be only as perfect, precise, and efficient as the humans who build them.01
- Kim caScone

The predICAMenTs of defInInG GlITCh ArT


Artistsoftenfindthemselvesonafrontline,reflectingonthecultures,politicsandtechnologies of their time. Over the last decades, audiovisual media and computers have gradually gained more and more importance in an art field that is still fundamentally ruled by classical media forms and genres. Noise itself is of course not new; similarly, contemporaryglitchartrelatestoalonghistoryofnoiseartandartistsbattlingindifferentwaysagainstmediaformsandtheirflowsandconventions,includingespeciallywhat Ihaveoutlinedastheconventionoftransparentimmediacy. Whilenotbeingnew,noiseartarisesunpredictablyinnewformsacrossdifferenttechnologiesandculturalscenes.Overtime,noiseartistshavemigratedfromexploringthe grain,thescratchingandburningofcelluloid(forexample,acolourboxbyLenLye, 1937)tothemagneticdistortionandscanninglinesofthecathoderaytube(asignificant workbeingNamJunePaikinmagnetTVin1965).Subsequently,glitchartistswandered theplanesofphosphorburn-in,asCoryArcangeldidinpanasonicTH-42PWD8UKplasmascreenburn,in2007.WiththearrivalofLCD(liquidcrystaldisplay)technologies, dead pixels were rubbed, bugs were trapped between liquid crystals or plastic displays andviolentscreencrackingLCDperformancestookplace(ofwhichmyfavoriteis%SCR2, byJodi,underthePseudonymwebcrash2800in2009). Tosomeartists,myselfincluded,ithasbecomeapersonalmattertobreaktheassured informaticflowsofmedia.Whilenormally,transparentmediascreensgenerateconventional impressions of immediacy, there is a desire to force the viewer to think beyond hiscomfortzones.Glitchartistsmakeuseoftheaccidenttodisfigureflow,imageand information,ortheyexploitthevoidalackofinformationthatcreatesspacefordecipheringorinterpretingtheprocessofcreating(newkindsof)meaning.Throughthese tactics,glitchartistsrevealthemachinestechnandenablecriticalsensoryexperience totakeplacearoundmaterials,ideologiesand(aesthetic)structures.Theirdestructiveor disfiguringprocesseshavenotechnologicalname,definitionorexplanation(yet).Forthis reason,itisnecessarytonotonlydefineandcategorizeglitchattechnologicallevels,but alsotolookcloselyathowspecificmediaareexploitedonamorecomplextechno-cultural level.TheartistsIdiscusshereincludeAntScott,5VOLTCOREGijsGieskesandJodi.Of coursemanyotherartistswhosepracticesareinvestedinthemoment(um)orcultureof glitchcouldhavebeenincludedhere.Anactualhistoriographywouldforinstancealso includesignalprocessingartistslikeKarlKlomp,Lovid,MorganHigby-FlowersandMax Capacity,aestheticglitch-tricksterslikeJonSatrom,jonCates,fabricartistMelissaBaron, anddatabendgenerativeartistssuchasstAllio!,glitch-irionPixelnoizzandHellocatfood. Thishistoriographyisstillunwritten(partlybecauseitisstillinprogress).
01|KimCascone,TheAestheticsofFailure:Post-DigitalTendenciesinContemporaryComputerMusic,ComputerMusicJournal24.4(Winter 2000):p.13.

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Asisclearbynow,theinherentopennessofglitchasaconceptmakesglitchartdifficult, ifnotimpossible,todefine.Althoughaglitchcantakeplacestrictlywithinthecomputationalsystem,themajorityofartifactsthatarecalledorreferredtoasglitcheswithin glitchartarenotpurelyinformational,butmakesenseonlythroughasynthesisofagents andcontextsinvolved.Glitchispost-procedural(abreakfromaproceduralflow)andso, dialecticallyconnectsto,whiledepartingfrom,alinearandinformationalmodelofmediacommunication(informationsource->encoder->channel->decoder->destination), while also incorporating contextual and social processes of interpretation and making meaning.Furthermore,itisnecessarytorecallthatthewordglitchinglitchartisoften usedasametaphoricalconcept,evenbyglitchartists,andthereforevariesfromthestandalonetechnicalorinformationaltermglitch.

ant Scott. Suqqe. digital ScreenShot. 2002.

Thecomplexitiesthatmustbefacedbyatheoristorresearcherwhentryingtodefineordemarcatesomekindofessenceofglitchart(ifthisisevenpossible)cometotheforeground uponcloseengagementwithAntScotts(Beflix)work.Foryears,AntScotthasbeenaleadingfigureintherealmofglitchart.From2001until2005hepublishedhundredsofglitch imagesstaticandanimatedonhisblog,appearinghereasthefirstglitchartistactually usingthetermglitchartforhiswork.Theseimagesdonthaveacommonsource;further, someofthemarefoundglitchartifactsturnedintoorframedasart,whileothersareintentionallymadefromscratchbytheartist.AntScottdescribeshisseriesglitch(2007),a collectionof25works(smalldigitalrendersoflo-ficapturedglitches)accessibleviahis homepage,asthebestofhispureglitchphase.Theimages,whichatfirstmightappear bewildering,areactuallycreatedfromcomputercrashes,softwareerrors,hackedgames, andmegabytesofrawdataturnedintocoloredpixels.02Theyoriginateorareconstructed

02|AntScott,GLITCH#12,GLITCHART,2007,http://www.AntScott.com/works/glitch.php?id=12.

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from thorough trial and error processes, to which Scott carefully reassigns colours, and cropsselectareasofinterest.Theresultistheworksthatmakeuptheglitch(2007)series. AntScottsworkingprocesspresentsallkindsofdilemmasinthequestforadefinition and categorisation of glitch art. What kind of glitch is this glitch art exploring? How can the glitch be explained as an unexpected, abnormal mode of operation, when the artists working process and what he aims for are these abnormalities to begin with? Can the intended error be really described as erroneous?Ontheotherhand,Scottswide-ranging interrogationofglitchalignswithotheraspectsofglitchthatIhaveoutlined.Aglitchcan indeedexistwithinandacrossdifferentsystems,forinstancethesystemofproduction and the system of reception. Similarly, a glitch can depend on different actors within thesesystems;notjustthetechnologicalelementsthatShannondescribed,butalsothe ideologicalandculturalcontextsofthetechnology,whichbringsaspectsoftime,place andstructure(aesthetics)intotheartwork,allofwhichdifferbetweendifferentpublics, involvedintheprocessofmakingmeaning.Despiteglitcharthavingnosolid,orsingle definitionthroughtimeandplace,justasVirilioarguedthatitishelpfultodescribeadifferencebetweennon-figurativeanddisfiguredart,Ibelieveitisusefultomakeasimilar distinctionbetweendifferentdimensionsofglitchinglitchart.Glitchartthenpotentiallyincorporatesarangeofworksthatarepost-procedural,deconstructive,accidental andsoon,alongsideworksmorefocussedonafinalend-product,aestheticordesign.

CATeGorICAl preCursors: A BInAry ApproACh To GlITCh ArT?


Thepost-proceduralessenceofglitchartisopposedtoconservation;theshockingperceptionandunderstandingofwhataglitchisatonepointintimecannotbepreserved forafuturetime.Theartisttriestosomehowdemonstrablygraspsomethingthatisby natureunstableandungraspable.Theircommitmentsaretoanunconventionalutopia ofrandomness,chanceandidyllicdisintegrationsthatarepotentiallycritical.Thecore ofaworkofglitchartisthereforebestunderstoodasthemomentaryculminationofa historyoftechnologicalandculturalmovements,andasthearticulationofanattitude ofdestructivegenerativity.Inshort,glitchartpracticesareinvestedinprocessesofnonconforming,ambiguousre-formations. Atthesametime,however,manyworksofglitcharthavedevelopedintoarchetypesand evenstereotypicalmodels,andsomeartistsdonotfocusonthepost-proceduraldialectics andcomplexityofglitchatall.Theyskiptheprocessofcreationthroughdestructionof a flow and focus only, directly, on the creation of new formal designs for glitch, either bycreatingthefinalimagistic(orsonic)product,orbydevelopingshortcutstorecreate thelatest-circulatedglitchre-formation.Purposive,design-driveneffortsatglitchcanbe createdinplug-ins,filtersorglitchingsoftwarethatautomaticallyemulate,simulateor mimicaparticularglitchingmethod.Thesetoolstendtosurrenderaffect(theshocking moment(um)ofglitch)infavorofeffect. Design-driven glitch art has tended to be referred to as artificial or glitch-alike. Iman Moradihasgonesofarastodevelopatrue-falsebinarytodealwiththesemattersofglitch imitation,whichheexplainswiththefollowingstatementandschema: 35

Because of the intrinsic nature of this imagery and its relation to pure glitches, bothintermsofprocessandviewerperception,Ifelttheneedtoformawordthat adequately describes this artifacts similarity with actual glitches and present it asanobviouslyseparateentity.ThusthetermGlitch-alikecameabouttofulfil thisrole.[]Glitch-alikesareacollectionofdigitalartefactsthatresemblevisual aspectsofrealglitchesfoundintheiroriginalhabitat.03 Pure glitch accidental coincidental appropriated found real glitch-alike deliberate planned created designed artificial

WhileMoradisschemecanbeausefulstartingpointforconsideration,Ialsoseealotofissueswithit.Thecreationofabinaryoppositionwithinglitchartseemsnotonlytoosimple, butalsoinconflictwithagenrethatsooftenscrutinizesandaimstoviolatebinaryoppositions. The glitch genre is primarily about breaking categories open, uncovering what is in-betweenandbeyond.Theglitchinglitchartdoesnotonlydependontechnology,but alsoinvolvesideologiesandvisualstructures(aesthetics)includingtheartistsindividual perspective,andthecontextofviewing.Insteadofdenouncinganon-informationalglitch (orglitchpractice)asartificialorfalse,Ithinkitismoreinterestingtoresearchwhyandhow aparticularinvestmentinglitchisactuallyunderstoodasglitch artwithinalargermedia culture. This can be done by describing existing cultural instantiations of, and relations between,arangeofdifferentlyspawnedglitchartpracticesincontext.

froM pAssIVe ApproprIATIon or pure GlITCh ArT To ACTIVe, posT-proCedurAl GlITCh ArT
When all is said, what remains to be said is the disaster. Ruin of words, demise of writing, faintness faintly murmuring: what remains without remains (the fragmentary).04
- maurice blanchot

Atamostbasiclevel,glitchartistscanchallengethestandardmodeofoperationofasystem byappropriatingglitchesthatarespawned(partiallyorcompletely)byproductionprocesses. Typically, these glitches are encountered accidentally and often unstable (both in their processandintermsofresults),whichmeansthattheartisthastosomehowcapturethe glitch,inordertoappropriateandpresentittohisaudience.Anexampleofthisfirstkindof glitchartisanimagebyGregJ.Smith.TheimageshowsaMacinterfacegoinghaywireforno understandablereason.Althoughtheimagecanbedescribedascompellingortitillatingin termsofaesthetics,theworkdoesnotsignifymorethanwhatwascapturedinthefirstplace: abrokencomputerinterface.Itisapassivecaptureoffailure,sentofftoanaudience.

03|ImanMoradi,GlitchAesthetics,unpublishedbachelorthesis,Huddersfield,UK:UniversityofHuddersfield,2004.http://www.oculasm.org/ glitch/download/Glitch_dissertation_print_with_pics.pdf,p.10. 04|MauriceBlanchot,Thewritingofthedisaster,Nebraska:UniversityofNebraskaPress,1995.p.33.

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Anotherformofglitchartreliesonerrorswithintheproductionsystemthattheartistactively triggers.Thesepurposivelytriggeredbreaksfromtheflowareatleastpartiallyunderstood andcanoftenbedebugged.Inthiscasetheartistchoosestoexploitaproductionsystem(the protocolsbuiltintothemachine'shard-andsoftware),ortheinputthatmakesasystems protocolsbehaveinaparticularway,orboth.Anexampleofthissecondcategoryofglitchart is5VOLTCORE.Duringtheirliveperformances,themenof5VOLTCOREattackthecomputer withpowerinterruptionsfromanaudiosignal,whichproducesshortcircuitsthatgenerate unexpectedsignals.05Thisprocesstorturesthemachineandmakesitscreamoutshredsof powerfullycoloredimages,untilthecomputereventuallydies,whichendstheperformance. Intheirperformances,5VOLTCOREtakeissuewiththegoverningchargeofthecomputer. Workingindirectoppositiontothecomputersproceduralflow,activelyoverturningit,their aggressiveglitchesleadalwaystoonefatalendpoint,ratherthanbreakingopenthefuture; theyarenotsoinvestedinthegenerativequalitiesofpost-proceduralglitch.

posT-proCedurAl GlITCh ArT or The InTenTIonAl fAux pAs

giJS gieSKeS. circuitbend Sega megadrive2.2. modified Sega. 2007.

Alessaggressiveandmorepositiveexampleofaninterventioninmachinicflowcanbe found in Gijs Gieskes work. Gieskes takes machines apart and changes their circuitry. Throughcircuitbending,heredefinesthetechnologyanditscontents,penetratingand exploringthemachinefromtheinside.First,hedismantlesthesystemandthenhedeconstructs and re-appropriates it. One of his circuit bent machines, the circuitbend sega megadrive2.2 (2007), consists of a Sega console with a modified circuit, actively transformingthevideogameconsoleintoanautonomousvideosynthesisingmachine.

05|5VOLTCORE,5VOLTCORE|||SHOW,2006,http://5voltcore.com/typolight/typolight257/index.php/show.html.

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Gieskesdidnotaddanycodetothechipsorthevideogame;heonlychangedthecircuitryof theconsole.Thismeansthattheglitchesthatappearonthetelevisionscreenwerealready partofthevideogamessoftware(theROM);thegeneratedvisualsarereadymade,manipulated appropriations of mass-produced objects. The look and feel of these videographic utterances is dependent on the technology inside the original machine. This introduces questionsaroundthebuilt-inaestheticsandconventionalusageofthecircuitbendsega megadrive2.2.06Gieskesworkpervertsaclassicalsenseofaura,whichaccordingtoWalterBenjamin,wouldbebuiltuponunicityandauthenticity.Contrarily,thecircuitbend segamegadrive2.2doesntpossessoneparticularhereandnow.07Instead,theartworkis generatedeverytimethemachineisactivated.Therefore,theauraissituatedwithintheinterpretationsandcontextoftheuserorviewerandthechangedtechnologyofthemachine. Another example of the intentional faux-pas, or glitch art that is in violation of accepted socialnormsandrules,isuntitledgame(1996-2001),acombinedseriesof11modificationsofthefirstpersonshootergame(FPS)quake1bytheDutch/BelgiumartduoJodi.Jodi makessubversiveglitchartthatbattlesagainstthehegemonicflowsofproprietarymedia systems.Theyworktoreframeusersorconsumersperceptionofthesesystems.Theduos workisoftensimultaneouslypoliticallyprovocativeandconfusing.Thisispartlybecause Jodioriginallyneverprioritizedattachingexplanationstotheirwork,butalsobecauseof the way in which their practice itself overturns generic expectations. They challenge the ideologicalaspectsofproprietarydesignbymisrepresentingexistingrelationshipsbetween specificmediafunctionalitiesandtheaestheticexperiencesnormallyassociatedwiththem.

Jodi. untitled game. 11 quaKe modificationS for pc mac. 1999. modS: e1m1ap and ctrl-f6.

06|GijsGieskes,circuitbendsegamegadrive2.2,2007,http://gieskes.nl/circuitbending/?file=segamegadrive2. 07|WalterBenjamin,TheWorkofArtintheAgeofMechanicalReproduction,inHannahArendt(ed.),Illuminations,NewYork:Schocken, 1968,pp.219-254.p.II.

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Inanonlineinterviewin2006IencouragedDirk(difromJodi)tobreaktheduossilence aroundthedescriptionoftheirart.Abouttheworkuntitledgame,Dirksaid: OurpointwastoeraseandmakethisotherversionofQuakeandthendeny[theQuake game]thename.[]tocallituntitledgame(meant)thatitwasjustaprototypeofany ofthesegamesthat(consistsof)thesekindofstandardconstructionelementsandthings youcandoasauser.08 Inuntitledgame,Jodicriticallyexploitederrorsinthesourcecodeoftheoriginalgame. Theglitchescreatedbythesemodificationsdestabilizeandalterthenormallawsofphysics, so that steering and shooting becomes unpredictable and illogically geared, while thesoundsanddesignsofthegameitselfarealsomodifiedtosurprise.Bychangingthe algorithmsthatdefinethevideogamesplayability,thegamebecomesseeminglyunplayable,atleast,accordingtowhatisexpectedasnormalgame-play.Thegameitselfisnot totallyruined;itactuallyfunctionsquitewell,albeitinawhollynon-Newtonian,visually nonsensicalwaythattheFPS-playerisnottrainedtobeawareof,orcompetentwith.In E1M1APforinstance,oneofthe11modsmakingupuntitledgame,Jodiusedthegravityalgorithmtocreateunsettlingvortexeffects,whileinCtrl-F6thecollectiveexploited anti-aliasingtocreatecubesfilledwithbeautifullyevolvingmoirpatterns.09 untitledgame isanintentionally ruinedvideogame that questions conventional and normative videogame goals, for example self-improvement, competition, and winning,allofwhicharenaturallyembeddedinthesoftwaredesigncodesofthegamesthat dominatethevideogamebattlefield.Themodifiedalgorithms,visualsandsoundsofuntitledgamegenerateanewensembleofconventions,aimsandfeelings,inwhichvisual anddimensionalexperimentationtakesholdovercompetitivelogic,andtheoutcomeof thegameisnolongerascorebutacolorful,disconcertingexperience. In this way, untitled game rebels against the techno-social determinism of (game) technologyandconsumption,andframesthisparticularmediumofplayasatakenfor grantedtechniqueofenculturation.WhenreadthroughMcLuhanwhoasearlyasthe 1960sidentifiedmediatechnologicaldevelopmentsasthemostimportant(andatthat time,under-acknowledged)sitesofsocialcultivationJodiseemtoindicatethatnotonly media content and socially determining genres (game conventions), but also specific material forms (interfaces) and techn (the game's operational elements) are important to interrogateasobjectsofstudy.RecallMcLuhansownwordshere: themediumisthemessagebecauseitisthemediumthatshapesandcontrols thescaleandformofhumanassociationandaction.Thecontentorusesofsuch mediaareasdiverseastheyareineffectualinshapingtheformofhumanassociation.Indeed,itisonlytootypicalthatthecontentofanymediumblindsustothe characterofthemedium.10

08|RosaMenkman,BeautyintheAgeofDigitalArt;aesthetic,poeticorrhetoric,June2006.http://rosa-menkman.blogspot.com/2006/05/beautyin-age-of-digital-art.html. 09|RosaMenkman,JodiopdePijnbank,unpublishedmasterthesis,Amsterdam:UniversityofAmsterdam,2006,http://home.student.uva.nl/ rosa.menkman/Jodi%20op%20de%20pijnbank.pdf. 10|MarshallMcluhan,UnderstandingMedia:TheExtensionsofMan,NewYork:McGrawHill,1964.

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In digital glitch art like untitled game, the medium is redefined as a platform that doesntfollowitsgenre,formortechnique.Thistriggerstheusertoreflectuponherconventionalframesofreferencefortheparticulargameandperhapseventhecommercial game in general. The work criticizes the flow of a specific medium, its interface and its inherentconventions,butdoesnotnecessarilybreakit(asopposedto5VOLTCOREsperformance).Thefactthatthegamestillworkswhilebeingprogrammedtoglitch,makes itallthemorecriticallychallengingasmediaexperience.Jodishowsthatsoftwareismore than just a preprogrammed tool: it is a materialization of social modalities, which can furthermorebeendlesslyre-modifiedtodifferentinterpretiveorsocialconclusions. Theirrationalandconceptualglitcheswithinuntitledgame,itsvoidingoforiginaland receivedmeanings,forcestheviewertomakeactivesenseofthework.Thestructuresoforiginalmeaningareintentionallyruined.Butinthiscase,ruinisbothaconceptualorientation andatechniquethatunderlinestheconstructednessofmedia(art),forcingtheviewertoconsiderthecomputerasnolongerjustadeviceofstandardizationbutinsteadasatechnology thatfunctionswithinasocialreality.Onlyafterreflectingonthisnewformofthework,can theuserseethatwhattheglitchdoesisnotjustdestroytheoldvideogame,butinfactmodify its existing denotations and exchanges, entangling it within new lines or architectures of meaning.Thetechniquesofthevoidthesystematicdistortionofcommunicationhelps toopenmediaupfordiscussionsoftheirinternalpolitics.Thisishow,throughthetactics usedwithintheseglitchedgames,userscanre-territorializethesetechniques.

The ConCepT And TeChnIque of ruIn


You cannot prohibit the catastrophe, you must surf it!11
- paul virilio

Todaynewsandcurrentaffairsisgeneratedandspreadnotonlythroughrichandpowerfulpressmonopoliesandinfrastructures,butatthesametimethroughsmaller,moreindependentandautonomousagentsthatdonotrequireagreatcapitaloutlaytocontribute todebateonline.ThisiswhysocialbloggingsoftwareslikeBloggerareoftendescribed as democracy-enhancing tools; they are celebrated as an ideal medium supporting the politicalmythologyoffreedomofspeech.12 During2006and2007,Jodimadethework<$blogtitle$>,basedonthesocialpublishing toolBlogger,fromGoogle.13<$blogtitle$>lookslikeaBloggerpageinabrokenstate.The pagesgeneratedbyJodis(mis)usageofthetoolareeitherfilledwithgibberishorinruins. Itshardtosay:perhapsyouarelookingatback-endcode,brokenontothesurfaceofthe site,orperhapsitisjustnonsensethatwasneverpartofanycodifiedlanguagesystem?

11|AndreasBroeckmann,JokeBrouwer,BartLootsma,ArjenMulderandLarsSpuybroek,TheArtoftheAccident,NAIPublishers/V2_Organisatie:Rotterdam,1998.p.30-32. 12|DonaldMatheson,WeblogsandtheEpistemologyofthenews:someTrendsinOnlineJournalism,SageJournals,London:SAGEPublications,ThousandOaksCAandNewDelhiVol6.4(2004):pp.443-468.p.445. 13|Jodi,<$blogtitle$>,2006-2007,http://blogspot.jodi.org/.

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Intheseworks,Jodiindeedplayswithdifferentlanguagesystems,forinstancethevisual andthenon-visualsource(code)oftheBloggersoftware.Templateformatssuchasthe titleoftheblog,thepostheadersandcertainblogaddressesinthelinklistappearallin ruins,whileBlogger-specificimageslikecomment-icons,datesandadditionalotherwise functionalvisualelementsarenowreducedtotheatricalobjects.WhatisnormallyinvisibleastheinfrastructureoftheblogsnippetsofcodeandinterfacecommandslikeS =Publish,D=DraftorAllowNewCommentsonThisPostYesNo14aremovedtothe frontofthesite,wherenormallyonlyahumandiscoursewouldbevisible. Jodis<$blogtitle$>partiallyexposedthemythicalnotionof'democracyenhancing'socialbloggingtools,whenBloggerblocked7ofits22blogpages.Inthiscase,theprocess offreeonlinepublishingresultedincensoriousdestruction.ThisunforeseeneventualitymadeitclearthatBlogger-users(anyblogusers)answertoabuilt-in(political)system anddontoperatecompletelyundertheirownauthority.Moreover,thesystemisgoverned bythebelief(sharedbyboththecreatorsofthetechnology,theconventionalusers,and theaudience)thatthesoftwarewillbeusedtodistributeonlyconventionallyformatted knowledge.Bloggersthatdonotsubscribetotheconventionsriskthepossibilityofbeing blockedorhavingtheirblogscompletelydeleted.

Jodi. my blog iS blocKed. blogSpot.Jodi.org. 2007.

14|Jodi,<$blogtitle$>,2006-2007.http://blogspot.jodi.org/.

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<$blogtitle$> stands apart as a purposeful artifact that captures what Deleuze and Guattari have described as a line of flight: an elusive, divergent, inherently political moment(um)throughwhichaxiomsarequestioned,genresarebrokenopenandcategoriesarecreated.15Jodiusestheglitchtoemphasizearejectionofwhatcanbereferredto assoftware-determinismorinthecaseofblogger,platform-determinism.InaninterviewwithTilmanBaumgartel,Jodistates:Itisobviousthatourworkfightsagainsthigh tech.Wealsobattlewiththecomputeronagraphicallevel.[]Weexplorethecomputer frominside,andmirrorthisonthenet.16<$blogtitle$>,asanexampleofthisworking method,enactsthisbattleattheborderbetweensystemandentropy,standardizationand corruption,expressionandcode,meaningandnon-meaning,thwartingtheuserandthe viewersexpectationsandunderstandings. <$blogtitle$>isgeneratedwithinthesystemofBlogger,butdoesnotfollowtherules, the language or the syntax of that blogging system. On the one hand, the work can be understoodasasocialcriticismtowardsBloggerandothercelebrateddirectread/write web2.0platformsorasablogthatentailsa(re-shuffled)signsystemthroughwhichthe viewercannavigateandgleanherownselectfragmentsofmeaning. In <$blogtitle$>, artistic negation has become a generative and creative force. In a seemingvoidofmeaning,thespectatorisforcedtousehisimaginationwhilereflecting onthework.Theglitchsformalfragmentationsignifiesthattheworkisopentointerpretationandmeaningfulengagement.Thisnewtextisnolongeraworkthatdisplaysor retellsconventions,butawriterlysoftwarewheremeaningcanbeactively(re)constructed. ByruiningtheBloggermedium,Jodisuseofformalfragmentationopenstheplatform itselfuptodeconstruction,interpretationandfurtheractiveengagement.Asaresult,the meaningoftheruinedworkisneverfinished,wholeorcomplete.Insteadofbeingstatic itdiffersfromreadingtoreading,orwitheachfragmentedelementofthesyntax.Inthis sense,theworkhasbecomeavirtualspacewheretheaudiencecanactualizeaninfinite amountofpotentialmeanings.However,forthereadertoactuallygivemeaningtothe ruins,theymusttaketheinitiativeofimposing(theirownselect)newconstraints,new frameworksofanalysisandlimitationsonotherpossibilities.Theviewerbecomesaware thateveryactofcreatingmeaningisalsojustasstronglyanactofdestruction(ofmore infinitepossibilities).17 Moreover,inthecaseof<$blogtitle$>,thisopennessalsohadanegativeconsequence: Bloggerinterpretedtheblogasamaliciousspamblogandconsequentlyblockedit.This actcouldbedescribedasaratherrigorousdeathoftheauthor,inwhichthemeaning of the work is not negotiated, but instead dismissed and deleted. In fact this could be understoodasaseconddeath.TheauthordiesinaBarthesiansenseatthemomentof (web)publicationwhentheviewersinterpretationtakesoverfromauthorialintention, but also in a second and more violent way when the corrupted, writerly text is totally eliminatedfromtheblogospherealtogether.

15|GillesDeleuzeandPierre-FlixGuattari,AThousandPlateaus:CapitalismandSchizophrenia,Trans.B.Massumi,Londen:TheAthlone Press,1988.p.213. 16|TilmanBaumgrtel,TP:InterviewwithJodi.Weloveyourcomputer,Telepolis.May2006,http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/6/6187/1.html. 17|GillesDeleuzeandClaireParnet,DialoguesII,LondonandNewYork:Continuum,2006.p.112.

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<$blogtitle$> opens up and intervenes into the normally inter-locked relations betweenconventionalinformation,apossiblemessage,andtheback-endcodingofBlogger, andtreatstheserelationasasystemthatcanbemodifiedorexpandedtowardsnewpossibilitiesthroughglitching.Hereglitchesarticulateanalternativelanguagethatblends systems into a form that nobody can read (yet). The voided <$blogtitle$> shows the conventionsbywhichtheuser/readernavigatesonline,andthenormsthathelphimto operatethesedailytechnologiestransparently.Theconstructednessofsuchdiscourse,in termsoflockeddownproprietarysoftwareisnotnecessarilynegativeinitself,butsometimes(as<$blogtitle$>suggests)leadstogeneralizedassumptionsandtheunder-or non-acknowledgementofinvisiblepoliticalforcesintheformofunderlyingconventions. The glitch can help us uncover these obfuscated political dimensions as well as create strategiestoseethroughthem.In<$blogtitle$>,Jodishowsthataglitchcanbecompletelyconstructed(bytheartist),butalsothatsuchconstructscaninturnrevealtheconstructednessofsoftware-generatedknowledgeandexpression.Jodisinvestmentinglitch showsthatBloggercan,likequake1,beusedinmanymorewaysthanuserspacifiedby conventionmightassume.18

CreATInG The perfeCT GlITCh usInG CrITICAl MedIA AesTheTICs


[The] absence of meaning is in this case the presence of all meanings, absolute ambiguity, a construction outside meaning.19
- JacqueS attali

Withintheconstructedruinsofglitch,newpossibilitiesandnewmeaningsarise.There issomethingmorethanjustdestruction:newunderstandingsliejustbeyondthetipping point.Theglitchgeneratesnewunderstandingsoftechno-culturethroughthegestations ofGlitchspeak,glitchsconstantlygrowingvocabularyofnewexpressions. I use the term Glitchspeak in opposition to George Orwells Newspeak. For Orwell, Newspeakisalanguagewhosepoliticalgoalitistoshrinkitsvocabularyandgrammaticalnuanceovertime,soastorenderanyalternativethinkingwhichhereferredtoas thoughtcrime,orcrimethinkimpossible.ThefinalgoalofNewspeakistoconstruct asocietyinwhichonlypoliticallyapproved(dominantandconventional)statementscan bearticulated,attheexpenseofthepossibilityoffreeexpression,rebellion,andsoon.20 FightingNewspeak,Glitchspeakconteststheobfuscatedlimitationsoflanguagecreated byproprietarytechnology,tocapturetheconstanttransformationandgrowingwealthof glitchartifactsandtheirmeanings. Most glitch artists are always, directly or indirectly, trying to answer one question: How much agency should I provide to my systems of destruction?Theirpost-utopianstrategiesaim toidentifywherethetippingpointis:When and how can a glitch be found and transition
18|MichaelTruscello,BehindtheBlip:EssaysontheCultureofSoftware(review),CulturalCritique,no.63,(2006):pp.182-187. 19|JacquesAttaliandBrianMassumi,Noise:ThePoliticalEconomyofMusic,Manchester:ManchesterUniversityPress,1985.p.33. 20|GeorgeOrwell,NineteenEighty-Four,London:SeckerandWarburg,1949.p.372.

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into something new?Theperfectglitchexists,momentarily,attheshockingtippingpoint between(potential)failureandamovementtowardsthecreationofanewunderstanding. Theglitchsinherentmoment(um),thepoweritneedsorhastopassthroughanexisting membraneorsemblanceofunderstanding,helpstheutterancetobecomeanunstablearticulationofcounter-aesthetics,adestructivegenerativity.Asanexoskeletonforsuch(postutopian)progresshowever,theglitchdoesnotjusttakeplaceonacriticallyruinedsurface. Thechoicetoaccepttheglitch,towelcomeitasanaestheticform,meanstoacceptanew criticaldialecticthatmakesroomforerrorwithinthehistoriesofprogress. Followingthisdialecticofcritical media aesthetics,theglitchcanobtainaplacewithin largermediaculturalscenariosofpoliticalproductivityandevolution.Theroleofglitch artifacts as (instances of) critical media aesthetics is, again, twofold. On the one hand, theseaestheticsshowamediuminacriticalstate:aruined,unwanted,unrecognized,accidental and horrendous moment. This transforms the way the consumer perceives its normaloperation(everyaccidenttransformsthenormal)andregistersthepassingofa tippingpointafterwhichitispossibleforthemediumtobecriticallyrevealedatgreater depth.Ontheotherhand,theseaestheticscritiquethemediumitself,asagenre,interface and expectation. They radically challenge the technological, social or ideological constructednessofallmediaculturalformationswhileproducingatheoryofreflection.

The TIppInG poInT of Cool; CrITICAl MedIA AesTheTICs' BeCoMInG CoMModITIes


In The Laws of Cool, Alan Liu asks himself: What is Cool? He describes that cool is theellipsisofknowingwhatiscoolandofwithholdingthatidea.Coolisinformation designed to resist its status as information, a paradoxical gesture through which the unknownstrugglestoarise(orresistsarising)inthemidstoftheeconomiesofknowledge work.21Liuconcludesthatthosewhoinsistonaskingwhatiscoolaredefinitelyuncool. KeepingLiusstatementinmindandthusparadoxicallyover-theorizingcoolglitches,I suggestthatthecoolglitchcanbefoundatthemomentofitspreliminarynon-definition; whenitisstilldenieditsexistencebeforeitstippingpointwhereerrorsaredeleted,or remainignored,blockedorunaccepted,unwilled.  Liu-coolglitchesonlyexistduringthemoment(um)ofglitchbeforetheglitchisovercomeasfailureorhasbecomeanewestablishedform.Tothinkaglitchiscoolistoacknowledgethattheglitchisstillactivelyreflecteduponandhasnotyetbeenestablished. Indeedthecoolestworkofglitchartisdeniedexistenceatthesametimeasitincorporatesthisverydismissalintoitsmomen(tum),soastoimplicitlysaysomethingaboutthis action:thedeletionof<$blogtitle$>gaveJoditheopportunitytoexploitthisLiu-cool logicandincorporateitintotheinformationallureoftheirwork. Coolisinaconstantstateofflux,asiscoolglitchart.Thelatterexistsasanassemblage relyingon,ontheonehand,theconstruction,operationandcontentofthetechnology (themedium)andontheotherhandthework,thewriter/artist,theinterpretationbythe
21|Liu,Alan.Whatscool?,inTheLawsofCool:KnowledgeWorkandtheCultureofInformation,Chicago:UniversityofChicagoPress,2004, pp.176-179.

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viewer and/or user (the social meaning) and the works aesthetics. The tipping point, the application of (aesthetic) meaning or value, can move the glitch from the realm of coolglitcharttohot, establishedorevencommodified.Itishoweverimportanttorealize thatnotallglitchartiscool,orprogressiveorsomethingnew.Thepopularizationand cultivationofanavant-gardeofmishapsandbreakageshasindeedbecomepredestined andunavoidable.Whatisnow(ornext)aglitchwillbecomeahot fashionsoonenough- reproducible,standardized,automatedbysoftwaresandplug-ins.Thismovementisan integralpartofamovementthatshouldbetheorizedasthegenreofglitchart.

45

from Artifact To Commodity


I woke up one morning in March to a flood of emails telling me to look at some video on YouTube. Seconds later I saw Kanye West strutting around in a field of digital glitches that looked exactly like my work. It fucked my show up the very language I was using to critique pop content from the outside was now itself a mainstream cultural reference.01
- paul b. daviS

froM CIrCuIT BendInG To sIMulATIon


Thedebuggersofthedigitalrealm,thetechniciansandengineers,aretaskedwithcontrolling the erratic reactions and behaviors of files, hardwares and softwares. Complex compression algorithms developed for mobile phones, dvds and mp3s for example, aredesignedtominimizetheamountofartifactsadevicewillshowatthesurfaceofits interface,tomakethemediumseemastransparentaspossible.Inthecultureofglitch art,techniciansandengineersaremorelikere-buggers;theyengagethemselveswithan almostoppositepractice,promptingandamplifyingglitchartifactsonpurposeandeven writingsoftwaresorbuildingblatantlynon-standardmachineswiththeintenttospawn morenewartifactsfortheuser/viewersdevelopmentofarichGlitchspeakvocabulary.

Jeff donaldSon. notendo. minidv capture from circuit bent neS. 2007.

01|PaulB.Davis,DefineYourTerms(OrKanyeWestFuckedUpMySoloShow),28thMay2009,http://www.seventeengallery.com/index. php?p=3&id=42.

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don miller/no carrier. glitchneS 0.2 ScreenShot. 6502 aSm. auguSt 2010.

For more than 20 years now, glitch sounds have been consumed and standardized in contemporarymusicculture.Onlyrecentlyasimilartrendiscrystalizingitselfaround visualglitch-generationtools.Anexampleofthistendencytowardsgenerativeglitchdesignanditsconsumptioncanbefoundwithinthe8bitscene.noteNdo(JeffDonaldson fromNewYork)hasbeenperforminghislivevisualsgeneratedwithacircuitbentNintendoEntertainmentSystem(nes)since2001.Hehasplayedatmanyfestivals,whilehis brokenspritesthetwo-dimensionalimagesgeneratedinhisconsoleandtriggeredby hiscustom-madebendshaveinspiredotherpeopletostartcircuitbendingtheirown nesdevices. Becausecircuitbendinginvolvesacertainthresholdofknowledgeandexpertise(abasic understandingofelectronicsanditstools),programmershaveapprehendedopportunitiesinemulating,ratherthanmanuallyrepeating,thephysicalprocessofcircuitbending.Theartistnocarrier(DonMiller,alsofromNewYork)forexample,whosework arose slightly later in the visual glitch scene, has written glitchnes, a software that 47

emulatessomepartsofthetechnologicalprocessofcircuitbendingannesconsole.02 nocarrierdescribeshisworkinthisway: glitchnes is an open source software project for nes. This software causes graphicalglitchessimilartohardwarecircuitbending.Theimagesproducedare causedbydeliberateramcorruptionduetooverloadingtheppu,orPictureProcessingUnit,ofthenes.Theresultisrandomflashesofcolourandpatternsthat change with each button press. The open source nature of this project allows userstocreatetheirownglitchnesromsandcartridgeswithuniquetilesets andeffectsbyalteringthesourcecodetotheirliking.03 The difference between noteNdos hardware glitching and no carriers emulated, software glitching are many. But as one example, noteNdo never open-sourced his knowledgeandstrategiesforcircuitbendingthehardwareofanes,whilenocarrier aimstokeephisglitchnesandalltheresearchitinvolvesopenandaccessible.This meansthatwhilenoteNdokepthisresearchclosedandinsodoing,retainedsomeform ofauthorshipofhiswork,nocarrieropensourcedhiswork,givinguserstheopportunitiestochangeparameters(andindoingso,thelooksofthegeneratedglitches)or evenbuildasimilarworkfromscratch.

vade. What a horrible night to have a curSe - caSltevania. glitched SyStem emulation via openemu. 2009.

02|DonMiller,nocarrierglitchnes,nocarrier.com,2009,http://www.nocarrier.com/glitchnes.html. 03|DonMiller,biographyforthePlaylistexhibition,2010,http://www.imal.org/playlist/artworks/17.

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The idea that a glitch can be designed or distributed by knowledge alone, or glitch software,seemsatfirstmaybea-typical,butthroughoutthedevelopmentoftheglitch genre,thishasbecomeamoreandmorecommontendencyorevenatradition.Inthis tradition,nocarriersglitchneswasfollowedbytheopenemuprojectforQuartz Composer.openemuisanopensourcegameemulationtool,aprogramthatallowsthe computertovirtuallyrunacertainconsolesoperatingsystemsonanothermachinefor whichitwasnotdesigned.openemualsomakesitpossibleforuserstomodifygame enginesandmakeuseofexistinggamearchitecturesandscriptsforallkindsofcreativepurposes.ItevenincludesaseparatepluginjustfortheNestopiaengine(thenes emulationprogram),whichsupportsextendedfeatures,suchasROMglitching,cheat codesandgamerewinding.04Thisparticularformofglitchingdoesnoteffectthegame itself; instead it randomly shuffles the sprites by a process referred to as name table ramdisordering. Theopenemuextendedpluginsmadeitextremelyeasyforanyone(to)softwarebenda virtualnes,inreal-time.05ButwhereastheoriginalnoteNdoconsoleandnocarriers glitchnesweretechnicallyinvestedprojects,thedifferenceoftheopenemuromlies inthefactthatitputsanemphasisonaesthetics.Thesimulationofmedium-specificor maybeevenmedium-brandedgameartifactsgeneratesimagesthatimitate or mimicthe processofglitching.Finally,adifferencebetweenemulationandsimulationlieswithin thespaceofferedtouserstolearnaboutthetechnologyanditsexploitedprotocols. Todaymoreandmorenewglitchartisbeingmodeledafteroriginalglitcheswithinolder media,perpetuatingashiftinglitchculturefromdestabilizingbreakswithintechnology or information-based processes towards generic and associative displays of more and less retro effects. With the help of these slowly standardized, commodified, institutionalizingeffects,anyusercanhandleabroadrangeofdatatypesandtechnologiesin predetermined,oftenretro-nostalgicways,andcreatewhatcanbestbedescribedasan approximationofwhatoriginallywouldhavebeenthematerializationofadestabilizing breakofmachinetechnology.

froM dATA BendInG To TrAnsCodInG


Another striking example of the evolution of glitch can be found in the realm of data bending. In 2005, Beflix (Ant Scott), Organised (Iman Moradi) and Dmtr (Dimitre Lima) developed the glitchbrowser (taken offline in 2008). Whereas normally browsers are designedtomakewebsitesaccessible,standardizingtheiroutputsintoeasilyunderstandable,uniformlystructuredcontentthatappearsthesameacrossdifferentcomputers,the glitchbrowserwasdesignedtoreadaweb-sourceandreplaceallitsinherentimages withglitchedordisfiguredversions. Today,ifyougototheurlwheretheglitchbrowserwasonceavailable,thebrowseris commemoratedbyatextthatexplainstheconceptas
04|Today,openemuhasadesignedplug-inemulationtoolformanydifferentgameengineslikeNintendo,SegaandGameBoy. 05|DanWinklerandAntonMarini,openemu,14Jan2009.http://openemu.sourceforge.net/.

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adeliberateattempttosubverttheusualcourseofconformityandsignalperfection. Information packets that are communicated with integrity are intentionallylostintransitorotherwisemisplacedandrearranged.Theconsequencesof suchsubversionareseeninthesurprisinglybeautifulreadymadevisualglitches provokedbytheglitchbrowseranddisplayedthroughourforgivingandunsuspectingwebbrowsers.06 Theglitchbrowserspecificallyre-encodedembeddedjpegsandgifsandreturned themtotheuserasdamagedpictures,imitatingtransmissionerrors. glitchbrowser as a browser was an autonomous work of art, but the browser also madeitpossibletodownloadthegeneratedglitchimages,andtopresentthemasindependent,standaloneworks.Thisishowthebrowsertookonadualroleasbotha conceptualartpieceandasaglitch-imagegenerationtool.Theglitchbrowserwasan earlyversionofastillgrowingnumberofglitchimagegenerationsoftwaresandplugins thatincludeprojectslikecorrupt(Recyclism,2006),glitchmonkey(Youpy,2007) andbytemolester(KrolyKiripolszky,2008).Thesescripts,pluginsandsoftwaresall generateresultssimilartotheglitchbrowser,whilebreakinganddisfiguringjpegs and/orgifs(themostcommonlyusedimagecompressions)indifferentwaysanddifferentenvironments(forinstancewithinabrowser,orasanappforthepc). Acoupleofyearslater,in2010,reflectingonthesetrendsandtheirresultingoutputs, Iwroteavernacularoffileformats:aneditguidefordatabendcompression design. The Vernacular was an attempt to voice my concerns regarding the growing popularityofdesignedglitchinginfavorofinformationalorprocess-orientedglitchresearch.Itwasaperformative,playfullymeantinterventionthatcriticizedthesimplicity thatglitchhadbecome,whileatthesametimeaimedtodemystifythelastremaining coolelementsoffileformat-basedglitching.IntheintroductionIwrote: Glitchesarehot.Itisclearfromwhatwecanseeonmtv,Flickr,intheclubor thebookstore.WhiletheGlitch:designingimperfectioncoffeetablebookintroducestheglitchdesignaesthetictotheworldoflattedrinkingdesigners,and KanyeWestusesglitchestosingabouthisimperfectlovelife,theawkward,shy andphysicallyuglycelebrateundertheheaderGlitched:Nerdcoreforlife.07 Thelogicofthesedevelopmentsseemedtoreducetheglitchtoanimagisticslogan:No ContentJustImperfection.Iwantedtomoveglitchartistsbeyondtheseburgeoning conservativeimpulsesintorethinkingandexpandingoutfromthestandardizingand onlyaestheticallyengagingformsofglitch.IntheVernacular,Ishowedaselectionof themostcommonlyusedfileformatsintheircorresponding(glitched)states,inorder tocategorizeandcompareprominentexamplesofwhathascometobeheraldedasthe resultsofhotglitchdesign.

06|DimitreLima,ImanMoradiandAntScott,glitchbrowser02.12.200518.03.2009,2009.http://glitchbrowser.com/. 07|RosaMenkman,avernacularoffileformats,August2010.http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9054743/lofi%20Rosa%20Menkman%20-%20A%20 Vernacular%20of%20Fil%20Formats.pdf.

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larSby, Johan and roSa menKman. monglot. glitch SoftWare interface. 2011.

Building from the Vernacular I went on to create monglot, a piece of glitch software, togetherwithJohanLarsby,in2011.monglotallowstheusertoeasilytranscodecompletely identical informational disturbances in different file formats (for instance from jpegtoPNG),inordertouncoverandunderstandtheinherentstructuresofanencoding (orthefileformat).Itisironicallyinthiswayasoftwareofreproductionandrepetition (non-creativity),investedincomingintostandardizingcontactwiththenon-standardized moment(um)ofglitchartifacts.

The monglot software generates glitch images by mashing together the visual language of an image with the image-data encoded in the language of the compression, the latter erupting over the surface of the former as precisely ruined artifacts. It can generate common glitch aesthetics like fragmentation, grain, ghosting, interlacing, jitter, jaggies, () posterization, pixelating, quantization error, ringing, staircasenoiseandsoon.Thesoftwareenablestheusertoincreasetheirknowledge about what kinds of compressions can generate certain kinds of aesthetic outcomes. Moreover, monglot factored in the ambivalence and double articulation (encoding vs.imagedata;artifactvs.filter)offileformat-basedGlitchArtanddesign.Theimages generatedbythesoftwareareironicallystandardized(byenablingtherepetitionofany glitch)andassuchexistasacompromise,in-betweencool(unknown,orunder-articulated)glitchandknownglitchdesign.Unlikemonglot,mostotherglitchartsoftwares upuntilthenhadonlyacceptedoneortwodifferentfileformatsforexperimentation. monglot focuses on opening up glitched outcomes to experimentation, modulation and generative inquiries. At the same time, glitch art (as progressive and against the grain)becomesavirtualentitythroughthesoftware(aconceptthatisonlyreferenced). monglotimposesbreaksstrategically,asanorm,toreflexivelythinkthroughthedialecticalandforkingpathsthatinformthemakingsofglitchart. 51

Finally,theresearchintofileformatsandtheopportunitiestheyprovideforartisticand technologicalexperimentationwastakenone-stepfurtherinextrafile,anapplication writtenbyKimAsendorfin2011.Asendorfdescribesthepurposeofhissoftwareasaprojectfordevelopingnewimagefileformatsforartisticpurposes.Theextrafilesoftware presentstheconceptofanimagefileformatasaworkofart,bringingthefilenameextensionintothescopeoftheartworkitself,asaformofimageexclusivity.08

aSendorf, Kim and roSa menKman. extrafile vS. monglot. blinx. 2011.

aSendorf, Kim and roSa menKman. extrafile vS. monglot. baScii. 2011.

08|KimAsendorf,extrafile,2011,http://extrafile.org/.

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The extrafile software allows a user to transcode any image (e.g. a jpeg) into a nonproprietaryformatinventedbytheartist,Asendorf,suchasblinxorbascii.Whilethe outcome or look of the file depends on the image chosen by the user, the encoding or compression itself is the primary work of art. Some of the compressions developed by Asendorfonlyrestructuretheimagedataandareatfirstsightinvisibleintheimage;they onlyshowwithintheencoding.Othercompressionssuchasbasciiinvolvethetranscodingoftheimageintoverydifferentbuildingblocksandcolorpalettes,changingthelook ofthefilequitedramatically.Allofthedifferent,artisticallygeneratedfileformatstake theworkofartawayfrommainstreamstandards.Theprocessandtheresultingbytes,regardlessofcontent,becometheartworkitself.extrafilethusoffersanescapefromthe licensedimagefileformats(standards)andtheproprietaryprotocolsthatareunderthe ruleoftheInternationalOrganizationforStandardization(ISO),whichhasauthoredstandardizationlawsforinformationprocessingsince1947.extrafileisbestunderstoodas acritiqueagainstthegoverningcodesofictculturethatinvolveanoverlycomplexand entangledwebofproprietarylicensedprotocols. Bothmonglotandextrafileareopensourcedimagegenerationtools,invitingartiststo playwiththecode,thesoftwareandtheconcept.Whereasextrafileitselfisnotaglitch software,thefunctionalityofthetoolisbest(ifnotonly)appreciatedbyglitchingitsoutputs. WhenAsendorflaunchedextrafileonline,hedidsowithoutshowcasinganyimagesgeneratedbyhimself.Instead,herelayedpartoftheauthorshipontootherglitchartistslike JoseIrionNeto,BenjaminGaulon,BitSynthesisandmyself.Asendorfinvitedustoproduce glitchedimagesusingextrafilejustpriortothelaunchofthesoftwareontheinternet. Whilemonglotbothtranscodesimagefilesfromoneconventionalstandardtoanother anddatabendsimagesonaninformationallevel,extrafiletranscodesimagefilesinto new,roguestandards.Bothapplicationsunderlineacritiqueofthestandardizationoffile formatsandthecommodificationoftheircorrespondingglitches.Atthesametime,they contribute to the growing indifference between glitch art as informational or processbasedresearch,andglitchdesign,whichfocusesontheaestheticsofanendproduct.

froM enChAnTInG AffeCT To fIlTered effeCT


If it works, its obsolete.09
- marShall mcluhan

We already know too much for noise to exist.10


- douglaS Kahn

Asthepopularizationandcultivationofglitchartifactsisnowspreadingmorewidely,itis interestingtotrackthedevelopmentoftheseprocessesinspecificcasestudies.Onecase studyofacompressionartifact,recentlyreferredtoasdatamoshing,tellsanespecially interestingaccountofglitchcultivation.Thedatamoshartifactislocatedinarealmwhere

09|MeenakshiGigiDurhamandDouglasKellner,MediaandCulturalStudies,NewJersey:Wiley-Blackwell,2006.p.110. 10|DouglasKahn,Noise,Water,Meat:AHistoryofSoundintheArts,Massachusetts:MITPress,1999.p.21.

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compressionartifactsandglitchartifactscollide.Theartifactcausedbycompressionis stable and reproducible, as it is the effective outcome of keyframes being deleted. The outcomeofthisdeletionisthevisualisationoftheindexedmovementofmacroblocks, smearingoverthesurfaceofanoldkeyframe.Thismakesthevideomorphinunexpected coloursandforms.11 In 2005, Sven Knig embarked on his exploration into the politics of file standards, throughthisparticulardatamoshingeffect,andinrelationtothefreecodecXvid.Xvid isaprimarycompetitoroftheproprietaryDivXProCodec(notethatXvidisDivXspelled backwards),whichisoftenusedforspeedyonlinevideodistributionthroughpeer-to-peer networks.InaPpRoPiRaTe!(Sweden:2005)Knigusedthecodectomanipulateandappropriate complete video files found in file sharing networks.12 His work included an opensourcesoftwarescriptthatcouldbeusedtotriggerthecompression-effectinrealtime.ThroughtheuseoftheXvidcodecandcopyrightedmaterial,Knigtriedtopinpoint thetensionbetweentheusageofnon-proprietarycompressioncodecsandtheiruptakein DRM(DigitalRightsManagement)remix-strategies. Inhisnextproject,downloadfinished!(2007),Knigexploredhowthecodeccouldbe usedtotransformandrepublishfoundfootagefromp2pnetworksandonlinearchives.The resultbecametheroughmaterialforhisonlinetransformationsoftware,whichtranslated theunderlyingdatastructuresofthefilmsontothesurfaceofthescreen.Withthehelpof thesoftware,filesharerscouldbecomeauthorsbyre-interpretingtheirmostbelovedfilms.13 Aswiftmaturationofthedatamoshingeffecttookplacein2009atthesametimeasPaul B.DaviswaspreparingforhissoloshowattheSeventeenGalleryinLondon.Davisshow waspartiallybasedonaformalandaestheticexplorationoftheartifact.Whiletheshow wasintendedtocritiquepopularculturebywayofdatamoshinterventions,thisculture caughtupwithhimovernight,whentheeffectpenetratedthemainstreamjustpriortothe openingofhisshow.Davisreactiontothefateofappropriationplaysoutastheopening quoteofthischapter:ItfuckedmyshowuptheverylanguageIwasusingtocritiquepop contentfromtheoutsidewasnowitselfamainstreamculturalreference.14

11|ThelossycompressedvideoimageisframedfundamentallydifferentlyfromanalogueorRAWvideofootage.Theframesnolongerrelyupon RAWpixels.Instead,macroblocksbecomeoneoftheelementarycomponentsofthelossycompressedmovingimage(atleastundercurrent standardcodecsoftheMovingPicturesExpertsGroupMPEGandothers).Lossycompressedvideooftendependsonluminance(brightness)andchrominance(coloring)thresholdsarrangedwithin16x16pixel(moreorless)macroblockswithinthekeyframes(theI-frames) ofanimagesequence.Thethresholds(orfrequencies)ofchrominanceandluminancedependonanoscillatingcosinefunction(following FourierTransform). Moreover,thematerialofthedigitalfilmisnolongerbasedonalinearseriesofdiscreteimages(asequence);insteadthevideoconsistsof differentkindsofframes(I-framesorreference/keyframes,P-framesorforward-predictedframesandB-framesorbi-directionalframes), ofwhichonlythekeyframepossessesacompletematrixofmacroblocks.Theframesbetweenthekeyframes(theP-andB-frames)consist ofmotionvectorsthatindexonlythedifferenceinposition(theoffset)ofthemacroblocksbetweentheoriginalandthenextframe.The handlingofspaceandtimewithinthevideotechnologiesisthussignificantlydifferentbetweenthelinearanalogorRAWfootageandlossy compressedfootage. ArecentlypopularizedwaveofvideoartworkswasbasedonthedeletionofkeyframesandtheexploitationofthevectormotionofP-frames. Thisiscurrentlydubbeddatamoshing,pixelbleedingorjustcompressionart. 12|SvenKnig,aPpRoPiRaTe!,2005,http://www.popmodernism.org/appropirate/. 13|SvenKnig,downloadfinished,theartoffilesharing-makep2pcinema,2007,http://www.download-finished.com/.

14|PaulB.Davis,DefineYourTerms(OrKanyeWestFuckedUpMySoloShow),28thMay2009,http://www.seventeengallery.com/index. php?p=3&id=42.

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Prominent music videos, including Kanye Wests welcome to heartbreak (2009, directedbyNabilElderkin)andChairliftsevidentutensil(2009,RayTintori)indeed hadpoppedup,bringingthedatamoshingeffectintothemainstreamviamtv.15Thenew waveofinterestintheeffectgeneratedbytheseclipsleadtoaYoutubetutorialondata moshing,followedbyanexplosionofdatamoshvideosandthecreationofdifferentdata moshplugins,developedbyforinstancetheJapaneseartistucnv.Inthe2010gli.tc/h festival in Chicago, thirty percent of the entries were based on the data moshing technique(around80ofatotal240).Thetechniquethatwasusedtocritiquepopularculture, byartistslikeKnigorDavis,wasnowusedtogeneratelivevisualsforthemasses.16Data moshinghadbecomeacontrolled,consumedandestablishedeffect.TheaestheticinstitutionalizationofthedatamoshingartifactbecamemoreevidentwhenMuratasvideoart workmonstermovie(2005),whichuseddatamoshingasaformofanimation,entered theMuseumofModernArtinNewYorkinanexhibitionin2010. Thisnewformofconservativeglitchartputsanemphasisondesignandendproducts, ratherthanonthepost-proceduralandpoliticalbreakingofflows.Thereisanobvious critiquehere:todesignaglitchmeanstodomesticateit.Whentheglitchbecomesdomesticatedintoadesiredprocess,controlledbyatool,ortechnologyessentiallycultivated ithaslosttheradicalbasisofitsenchantmentandbecomespredictable.Itisnolongera breakfromaflowwithinatechnology,butinsteadaformofcraft.Formanycriticalartists, itisconsiderednolongeraglitch,butafilterthatconsistsofapresetand/oradefault: whatwasonceaglitchisnowanewcommodity.

The GlITCh ArT Genre: BeTween The VoId And CoMModITIzed forM
Thefatalmannerofglitch,itsorientationtowardsthedestructionofwhatis,canpresent aproblemtothosewhowanttodescribeoldandnewcultureasacontinuumofdifferent discretepractices.Onewaytodealwiththisproblemistorepeatedlycoinnewtermsand conceptstomakeroomforsplinterpracticeswithintheexpandingmediaculturalfield. Anabundanceofdesignationssuchasdatabending,datamoshingandcircuitbending havecomeintoexistencetonameandbracketvarietiesofglitchpractices,butallinfact refertosimilarpracticesofbreakingflowswithindifferenttechnologiesorplatforms. Whiletechnologicalglitchisprimarilyaprocessofshockrequiringinvestigationandcognition,glitchartisbestdescribedasacollectionofformsandeventsthatoscillatebetween extremes:thefragile,technologically-basedmoment(um)ofamaterialbreak,theconceptual ortechno-culturalinvestigationofbreakages,andtheacceptedandstandardizedcommodity thataglitchcanbecome.Toencapsulateawholerangeofunstableprocessesandsometimes almostcontradictoryintentionsofglitchartists,itisusefultoconsiderglitchartasagenre. Inthinkingaboutagenrethatencompassesboththemostrebelliousandthemoststableor commoditizedworksofglitch,thefirstquestionthatarisesiswhethertherecanevenbeany commondenominatorintheseworks.Whatdoessayingglitchisagenreactuallysay?
15|Seequote,beginningofthischapter. 16|PeterKirn,LiveGlitchingwithMIAatCoachella:Glotchy-GlithcyVideos,Pictures,LiveGigReport,CreateDigitalMotion,1May2009,http:// createdigitalmotion.com/2009/05/01/live-glitching-with-mia-at-coachella-glotchy-glithcy-videos-pictures-live-gig-report/#more-3750.

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Toconsiderglitchartasagenreistoemphasizethatgenresaresocialandconsensusbased constructs, rather than definitive categories.17 Steve Neale has suggested that genresarebestunderstoodasprocesses: Theprocess-likenatureofgenresmanifestsitselfasaninteractionbetweenthree levels:thelevelofexpectation,thelevelofthegenericcorpus,andthelevelofthe rulesornormsthatgovernboth.[]theelementsandconventionsofagenre arealwaysinplayratherthanbeing,simplyre-played;andanygenericcorpusis alwaysbeingexpanded.18 Whilegenresarealwaysinplay,theyalsobydefinitionhavesomesortoforganized andperceivedunity.Thisunitymodelsbothhowaviewerperceivesanyworkinthegenre andhowshecomestoassociatenewworkswithinit.MaryAnnDoanesuggeststhatthe unityofagenreisgenerallyattributedtoconsistentpatternsinthematiccontent,iconography,andnarrativestructure.19Inglitchart,thisthematiccontentcanbefoundwithin theworkslanguageanddesign,whileiconographicandnarrativethemesarepositioned withinglitchartsinvestmentintheruptureofproceduresandtechnique,thebreakfrom afloworthevoidofmeaninginthesocialunderstandingandtheestheticalreferences. Tocallglitchagenrealsomeanstosuggestthatitisintelligibleasatendency:toexploit medium-reflexivityandtotakeontherhetoricalquestioningoftheperfectuseandfunction of technologies, their conventions and expectations. Paradoxically then, out of its instantiationinerrorandbreakages,Glitchartcan,throughitsplaywithconventionsand expectations,bedescribedasagenrethatfulfillscertainexpectations.Thisreflexiveapproachtomaterialityinglitchtendsto,asKatherineHayleswouldassert,re-conceptualize materialityitselfastheinterplaybetweenatextsphysicalcharacteristicsanditssignifyingstrategies.Ratherthansuggestingmediamaterialityasfixedinphysicality,Hayles re-definitionisusefulbecauseit opens the possibility of considering texts as embodied entities while still maintainingacentralfocusoninterpretation.Inthisviewofmateriality,itisnotmerely aninertcollectionofphysicalpropertiesbutadynamicqualitythatemergesfrom theinterplaybetweenthetextasaphysicalartifact,itsconceptualcontent,andthe interpretiveactivitiesofreadersandwriters.20 Glitchgenresperformreflectionsonmaterialitynotjustonatechnologicallevel,butalso by playing off the physical medium and its non-physical, interpretative or conceptual characteristics.Tounderstandaworkfromthegenreofglitchartcompletely,eachlevel ofthisnotionof(glitch)materialityshouldbestudied:thetextasaphysicalartifact,its conceptualcontent,andtheinterpretiveactivitiesofartistsandaudiences.

17|RickAltman,Film/Genre,London:BritishFilmInstitute,1999. 18|SteveNeale,TheQuestionOfGenre,Screen,vol.31.1(1990):pp.45-66.p.56. 19|MaryAnnDoane,TheDesiretoDesire:TheWomansFilmofthe1940s,BloomingtonandIndianapolis:IndianaUniversityPress,1987.p.34. 20|N.KatherineHayles,Printisflat,codeisdeep:Theimportanceofmedia-specificanalysis,PoeticsToday25,no.1(2004):pp.67-90.

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The Genre pArAdox


Obsolescence never meant the end of anything, its just the beginning.21
- mcluhan

There is another factor to consider in this pursuit of materiality around glitch art genres.AsIhavedescribedintheopeningchapters,softwareengineeringparadigms arefixateduponthedevelopmentofbetter,fasterandstrongertechnologies,while theidealtransparenttechnologywillneverbeachievedandremainsamythological holygrail.Ontopofthisdominantculturalcomprehensionofmediatechnological progressionhowever,itisalsothecasethatengineersareeconomicallydrivento striveforbuilt-inobsolescence.Paradoxically,whiledesigningforgreatperfection,it isabasiceconomicconditionforthemediaengineerofourtimetoalwayssaveroom for improvement. This planned obsolescence results in the proprietary capitalist schemingforthelimitedusageofeachnewpurchasedtechnology,whichwillmanipulatetheconsumerintofutureinvestmentson(sooner)improvinghistechnologies.Iwouldliketoarguethatthiseconomicalreasoningisverymuchconnectedto thegrowingfetishizationofnostalgicimperfectionin(glitch)art,whichoverthelast decadeshasbecomeakindofconceptualvirus.Todayitiscompletelynormaltopay extramoneyforaestheticallyappealingpluginslikeHipstamaticorInstagram,that imitate(analogue)imperfectionsornostalgicerrors,likefauxvintagelensflareand lomographicdiscolorations. Built-inobsolescenceandbuilt-innostalgiahavemadethegapbetweennewandold technologiesbothsmallerandmoredialectical.Whiletheobsolescenceandnostalgicrevivalofimperfectmediausedtobecloselyconnectedtothefactorof(linear) time,thisfactorisnowmoredisorganized,transformingtheuncannyanachronism oravant-gardetendenciesofpost-proceduralglitchintoafetish:somethingthatis (now)understoodasasignof(anycool)time.Thisapparentcomingtogetherofthe hypecycle(thearrival,adoptionandsocialdistributionofspecifictechnologies)with newtechnologiesdesigned-forobsolescence,resultsinglitchitselfbeingincreasinglyunderstoodasretro-nostalgicartifacts.Giventhattheradicalmoment(um)and conceptualutilityofglitchwasatleastinitiallyawayforartiststopenetrateandexperienceeconomicalandpoliticaldrives(andtheircritique)withinthedevelopment ofnewtechnologies,thisnostalgichoveringaroundglitchsetsupverystrongcontradictionsandtensionswithintheglitchartgenre.IfIamtodescribeglitchartasa genrethen(whichIargueisquiteausefulwaytocomprehendtheinter-influencing forms, reflexive materialities and expectations generated around glitch practices), itisimportanttobareinmindRickAltmanswarning(paraphrasingWittgenstein) aboutcategoricalgenreinterpretations.Hesuggeststothemediatheorist: Dont say: There must be something common but look and see whether there is anything common to all. In the past, it has simply been taken for granted that genres are broadly shared categories []. When we look more closelyatgenericcommunication,however,itisnotsharingandunderstand21|RgineDebatty,Playlist,itsnot(just)aboutnostalgia,MakeMoneyNotArt,15January,2010,http://we-make-money-not-art.com/ archives/2010/01/previously-playlist-playing-ga.php.

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ingthatappear,butcompetingmeanings,engineeredmisunderstandingand adesirefordominationratherthancommunication.22  Altmanimpliesthatclassificationbygenreisneitheranobjectivenoraclearactivity,since thepredicationofmeaningalwaysprecedestheactofclassification.Inordertoplacean iteminonecategory,itmustfirstbeinterpretedasbeingsuch-or-such.Thisinterpretationisalwaysandinevitablyanactofclassificationandthusinvolvesthedominationof certainiconographicstructures.Thisoccursforexamplewiththework404errorbyJodi, whichhasbecomenotjustaboutanerrorornon-place,buthasbeenerectedasaniconographicworkstandingforadesireddestination,andspawnedacultofbrokenlinkart works.Suchworks,atthesametime,insistthattheirspectatorsestablishnewconceptual paradigmsforapproachingtheseparticularworksofglitchart.23 The genre of glitchart draws heavily uponspectatorliteracy (references to media technologytexts,aestheticsandmachinicprocesses)aswellasonknowledgeofmoreconventional canons of media-reflexive modern art. Accordingly, glitch art prompts the spectatortoengagenotonlywithcomplexthemes,butalsowithcomplexsubculturaland meta-culturalnarrativesorgestures,presentingconsiderablecognitivechallenges.Users donotconsumebutinsteadbecomeprosumers,activeparticipantsinacultureinvested inconstantre-definition.

22|RickAltman,Film/Genre,London:BritishFilmInstitute,1999.p.99.ThecitationisfromWittgensteinsPhilosophicalInvestigations(posthumouslypublishedin1953),section66,wherethephilosopherattemptstoestablishcommonfeaturesofgamesaprojectthatisindeed verymuchrelatedtotheestablishingofgenredefinitions. 23|White,Michele,TheAestheticsofFailure:ConfusingSpectatorswithNetArtGoneWrong,inTheBodyandtheScreen:TheoriesofInternet Spectatorship,Cambridge,MA:MITPress,2006,pp.85-113.p.99.

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organizing Glitch spheres

booKmarKing on deliciouS iS an act of curating - the organizing and including (or excluding) of linKS. to What extend do the glitch + blog + art -tagged booKmarKS form (a) netWorKed Web Sphere(S) and What SphereS are part of thiS glitch-artiSt booKmarK netWorK?

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booKmarKing on deliciouS iS an act of curating - the organizing and including (or excluding) of linKS. to What extend do the glitch + artiSt -tagged booKmarKS form (a) netWorKed Web Sphere(S) and What SphereS are part of thiS glitch-artiSt booKmarK netWorK?

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maKing tWitter liStS iS an act of Social organizing - it entailS the active including (or excluding) of contactS Within a particular Stream or netWorK. but do the glitch-liSted actorS and their WebSiteS form (a) netWorKed Web Sphere(S) and if So, What Sphere(S) can be diStinguiShed?

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GlITCh ArT neTworked


Sincethelastgli.tc/hfestivalinChicago,Ihavebeennoticingglitchnetworksgrowing moreandmoretight.ThisobservationwasreinforcedformeafterMay18,2011,when JamesBWatsondeletedtheGlitchArtarticleonWikipedia.Somestrongreactionstothis deletionwithintheonlineglitchscenewerearousedwhenI(re-)postedanimageofthis momentonmywebsite.Doesitsaysomethingaboutglitchculturethataveryobviously partialandincompletedefinitionofthefield,withlinkstojustafewselectartists,would situneditedinsuchanencyclopedicspace,andthenberemovedfornotbeingrepresentativeenough?Ofcourse.Atthesametimethough,throughthisincidentitbecameobviousthattheglitchartscenedoesactivelyknowitself,defineitselfandrelatetoitselfasa tangiblecommunityofactorsincertainways.Ireflectedmoredeeplyupontheimplicit organizationofglitchartistsontheinternet,asacomplexcommunityofspecificinterinfluencingactorsandobjects.Thisnotioninspiredmetoattempttomapthedifficult-torepresentonlineexistenceandassociationsofglitchartpracticesandculture. IinvitedEstherWeltevrede,aPhDcandidateatthehumanitiesdepartmentoftheUniversityofAmsterdamworkingoninternetspheremappingandanalysis,toassistmein somemodestexperimentstowardsthisend.Thereareanumberofproblemsthatimmediatelyariseinmappingwebspheres.Firstofall,wehadtochooseabiassomestarting pointsfromwhichtosearchbecausethereisnowaytocreatetheintegralmapofglitch artwithoutstartingpoints(andalsonowayofrepresentingallpossiblestartingpoints). Thereisbiasinthetoolsusedtodothemapping,inthewebplatformsthattheresearcher choosestofocusupon(wheretagsarescrapedfrom),andinthedepthandlevelofmappingassumedtogleanusefullevelsofdetailanddegreesofunderstandingfromthelarger datasetacquiredbytheprocess. EstherandIchosetousetheIssuecrawler,atoolthatindexesthewebfollowingsetinstructionsbycrawlingfromparticularchosenstartingpoints.Wefocusedonthebookmarking webservicedeliciousandsocialmicrobloggingsoftwareTwitterasthefocusofthedata scrape.Indelicious,weonlyscrapedbookmarksthatusedglitchasatop-tag.Themaps werethenorganizedaroundthreeresearchquestions.Firstofall:1)Bookmarkingondeliciousisanactofcuratingtheorganizingandincluding(orexcluding)oflinks.Towhat extenddotheglitch+blog+art-taggedbookmarksform(a)networkedwebsphere(s) andwhatspheresarepartofthisglitch-artistbookmarknetwork?2)Towhatextentdo theglitch+artist-taggedbookmarksform(a)networkedwebsphere(s)andwhatspheres are part of this glitch-artist bookmark network? And: 3) Making Twitter lists is an act of social organizing  it entails the active including (or excluding) of contacts within a particularstreamornetwork.Butdotheglitch-listedactorsandtheirwebsitesform(a) networkedwebsphere(s)andifso,whatspheres(s)canbedistinguished? Throughaproductiveorientationaroundtoolbiases,thedifferentmapscouldpotentially giveinsightintoglitchscene(s).Themapsaregeneratedspecificallyfromthetags:glitch, blogandartorglitchandartist.Weexcludedgenericsocialnetworksandmediasharingplatforms(YouTube,Vimeo)soastofocusonactiveartistandorganizationalwebsites. Themapsrevealtheactorsandagentsofglitchdiscoveredthroughthisprocess(intheform ofwebsites),whilethesizeandcolorofthenodesshowsthequantitativein-andout-linking behavioroftheseactors.Anodeinthemaponlyappearsifthereareatleasttwoin-orout62

linkstothesite.01Verybasically,themorein-linksandout-linksthatshowup,thegreater theartistorgroupsonlineactivityorauthority(atleast)inthenetwork.Ofcourse,glitch artistsandorganizationsthatdonotexplicitlypropagatethetagglitchwillnoteasilybe includedinthesemaps.Thisisanacknowledgedblindspotofthemapsandofcoursedoes notmeanthatthosethatescapethegraspofthemaparenotpartofanyglitchsphere.02 TheDeliciousmapbasedontheglitch+artist-tagsandtheDeliciousmapbasedonthe glitch+blog+artist-tagsshowtwoverysimilar,complexnetworksofinter-influencing actorswithintheglitchscene.Thesetwomapsenableamodestassessmentofthelocation of the glitch art communities in relation to other web-based/digital arts communities. It appearsthattheglitchartsphereiscloselyconnectedtothespheresorganizedarounddigitaltools,platformsandsoftwares(e.g.Processing,Openframeworks,Puredata,Arduino). Besidesthis,theglitchspheresareorganizedthroughsomehubsorblog nodes.Thesecan bedividedintodigitalartcommunity-blogsproximatetotheNewYorkCitycommunityof new-mediaart(suchasRhizome,319scholesandtheNewMuseum);blogswithaEuropean geo-location(noteforexampleNeuralandFurtherfield);andnodesdedicatedtofestivals (noteTransmediale,Bentfestivalandgli.tc/h).Vagueterrain,adigitalartsblog,seemsto functionasapre-eminentcenter-hubthatisgreatlyresponsibleforbringingthedifferent communities together, while being disproportionately small; notably it does not receive manyin-links,whereasRhizomedoes.Thiscouldbeamatterofauthority. Ofallthreemap,theglitch+artistmapseemstoofferupamostinterestingmapof glitch art nodes, with some anomalies. I had expected the Chicago school of glitch to haveamorepronounced,heavilyinterlinkedpresence.WhilethereisdefinitelyadisproportionateamountofChicago-basedartistsindexedinallofthemaps,theydoseemto beequallyconnectedtonodeslocatedgeographicallyelsewhereandthustherestofthe worldsglitchartists.BesidestheChicagoschoolofglitch,thepresenceofaDutchcommunity(Guesses,Klomp,Menkman,Jodi,Impakt,mu,v2andwormweb)isstriking. It is a problem generated by the tools orientation around text search terms that other glitch actors, including for instance the Japanese visual school of glitch that includes ucnv,YoupyandShusakuHariya,aremissingfromthemaps.Fortheseartists,theuse ofJapaneseoverEnglishmeansthattheyarelesslinkedwithotherartiststhatarerepresentedandthisiswhytheyjustdontshowup.03

01|Fortheconstructionofthemap,wesettheIssuecrawlertocrawltwoiterationsdeep(toindexthelinksnotonlyfromthestartingpoint,but alsofromthefirstlistofindexedsites)inordertopartiallyovercomenodescreatedby,forinstance,theindividualtagginghimself,andto beabletomakemorelegiblethedifferencesbetweeninfluentialandlessinfluentialnodes. 02|WeadditionallydeletednodeslikeMySpace,Twitter,Flickr,Vimeoandcreativecommonsbecausetheytendtotakealotofspaceinthe finalvisualoutcomeofaqueryinvestedotherwiseinmappingindependent(non-proprietary)artpracticesinrelation.Platformnodes(of tags)wouldhoweverbeinterestingforanother,moreplatform-focusedresearch.Inthelastmap,wedecidednottoindextheTwitterlists thatwerebasedonthecomputergamedtitledGlitchsincetheselistsarecompletelytrivialtoglitchart.Asafulldisclosure,Ihavetoadmit thatsomebugsinthemappingsoftwareledtothedoubleappearanceofsomenodes.Aftersomefailedattemptstomergethesedouble nodesautomaticallyorbyhand,Ideletedthesmallestoneofeach.Thisledtoalittlediscrepancyinthefinalmaps,whichIbelieveotherwise stronglycalibrateanoverviewofthespheres. 03|Inthissense,whilethemapsseemtoargue(thatis,intheirbiases,ratherthanpassivelyshow)thatglitchartisstillaverywesterndiscourse andculture,responsiveasitistoEuro-Americantechno-capitalismsandspecifictraditionsofmedia/machinephilosophy,moreresearch wouldberequiredacrosslanguagegroups,andintosub-culturallanguages,andnationalwebs,andlocalartscenes,toconfirmthat.

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Atthesametimethereisacontemporaneitytothemapsthatisquiteinformative.For example,inthesummerof2011(duringthetimetheresearchmapswereconstructed) IDN magazine featured numerous glitch artists and projects, including Quayola, Kim AsendorfandClementVallawhoarenewtotheglitchscene.Theyhavealreadybeencapturedinthedeliciousnetworksandarevisiblehere.Inthissensethemapscreatedcanbe assumedtobeusefulsnapshotsofastillmutatingfieldthatisfulloffreshdata. The fact that I have published these results on my own rosa-menkman website (which appearsquitelargeandcolorfulintheresults),andthatthecrawlerindexesbothin-links andout-linkstomyblog,isafurthermatterforconsideration.Asaresearchauthority,artisticagent,andactivediscursivehubwithinthesespheresthatIamresearching,therosamenkmanblogcouldbeconsideredtobeitselfshapingthemappedcommunity.Thisisan importantproblemtokeepinmindandanongoingconsiderationformyresearchwork. In contrast, personal blogs and artists pages such as Goto80, designingimperfection, beigerecords, Gieskes, Jonsatrom and jodi seem not to link-out into the glitch community,whilereceivingin-linksfromtheirpeers,whichtendstorevealmattersoreven vectorsofstatusandauthority.04NoticehoweverhowVadesmanywebsitesaremapped. Because thisartist hasmanydifferent web-locatednodes (theURLs syphon,Vade.info, v002,abstrakt.vade.infoallrefertohissites)hisappearancewithinthemappedcommunityseemsbothhyper-presentand diffused(giventhemanydifferentnodesallgoverned byVade).BothVadeandPixelnoizztakeupaninterestingplacewithinthemap,forming activehubsbetweenthegenerativeordesigndrivensideofthemap(right)andthemore post-proceduraldrivensideofglitchart(ontheleftsideoftheglitchmap). ThethirdTwitterglitch-listedactormapconsistsoftwoveryclearlyseparatedspheres. Thefirstsphereiscenteredaroundglitch.fm,theglitchhopforumandacoupleofother glitchmusicrelatedsites.Thesecondisabigger,diffusedspherethatlocatesandmaps thegenreofglitchart.Withinthelatter,siteslike8bitpeoples(anchiptune/8bit/lo-ficommunity),gli.tc/h(theglitchartfestivalswebsite),Vagueterrain(theDigitalArt/Culture/ Technologyblog),slowelectronics(wherethemusiclabelslowelectronicsislocated)and personalblogsactashubsinbetweenthedifferentcommunities.Itisstrikingtomehow manyofthepersonalsitesareconnectedwithmultiplehubs,indicatingalargertrendof cross-fertilizationandnetworkingbetweenthedifferentdigitalartcommunities.

soMe fInAl refleCTIons on The GlITCh spheres


The circuit bending community seems under-represented. Possible reasons for their lackofnodescouldbethatthiscommunityisnotassocial(intermsofin-andout-linking)asotherglitchartistsworkingmoredirectlyonlineandwithcode.Orperhapstheyare nottaggedasglitchorasart,orboth.Themapsleaveoutunder-taggedandanti-social communitiesinthiswaywhatappearsmappedarethepartsofthe(glitch)websphere builtmoststronglyonlinkconnectionsandcommon(English)labels. Interestingly,theGlitch.fmcommunity(glitchmusic)isnottaggedasartorartistsin
04|Whilethisshouldinmostcasesindeedbeunderstoodasasignofauthority(orstatus),itcouldinsomecasesalsobeaproblemwiththe crawlerencounteringacodingobstructionwhenfetchingout-links.

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delicious (they have no delicious presence), while the click and cut/microsound musiciansdontseemtobeactivebloggers.Theyarenotpresentintheglitch+blog+art sphere, but are otherwise tagged as glitch artists in the map that does not include the blog tag. The 8bit/chiptune music scene, on the other hand, is notably connected to theglitchsceneinallthreemaps.Keyplayersinthisinter-linkageare:Goto80,noteNdo, Nullsleep,NOCARRIERandthe8bitpeoplesmusiclabel. Glitchartcommunitiesofcoursedonotstartorendatthebordersofthesemaps,and manymorecouldbecreatedwhichwouldenableadditionalinsightsintothevariedcommunities and techno-sociality of glitch agents and practices. Link relations are, complexly,influencerelationsbutliketheglitchitselftheydonotinitiallyoreasilygiveout knowledge.Youhavetoembedyourselfalittleandtracethemoment(um).

The emancipation of dissonance Glitch


I dont use the accident. I deny the accident.
Thereisnoaccident,justasthereisnobeginningandnoend.05
- JacKSon pollocK

Thenoiselesschanneldoesntexist.Whatmakeseverymediumspecificishowitfailsto reachastateofcompletetransparentimmediacy.Thesefailuresareembodiedbynoise artifacts;categorizableaseithercompressions,orfeedback,orthenot(yet)technologically defined break of a (computational) flow, named glitch. Moving from information theoryintotheartandcultureofnoiseandnoiseartifacts,glitchartproliferatesinaspectrumofdisturbancesthattraverseboththesonicandvisual,technicalandsocio-cultural realm.Herethedifferencebetweenfailureandglitchbecomesimportant:whilefailure isaphenomenontoovercome,theglitchisaphenomenonthatwillbeincorporatedinto newprocessesandconditionsoftechnologicaldesignorculturalmeaning. Contemporaryglitchartistsexploittheinherentmoment(um)ofglitchindifferentways. Athreefoldcategorizationofglitchesaddressedacontinuumforthinkingaboutglitch: fromcompletemachinespontaneityintheaccidentform,tocontrolled,debuggableor conceptualglitching;toamoreconventionalrealmofglitchdesignandaesthetics.The perfectglitchonlyexistsforaspectatoratthetippingpointbetweendestructionandthe creationofsomethingnew;thisismoreadialecticalrelationthanalineartrajectoryof possibility.Glitchrevealsbutalsobridgesgapsbetweenthefunctioningandthemalfunctioningofsystems. Intheend,theglitchisasubjectivephenomenon.Thereisnounequivocalculturaldefinitionofglitch,asthereisnonefornoise,becauseintheend,whatglitchisandwhatglitch isnotisasubjectivematter.Further,asasub-genrethatparticipatesinlargermediacul-

05|MonicaBohm-Duchen,Theprivatelifeofamasterpiece,California:UniversityofCaliforniaPress,2001.p.230.

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turesofdistributedauthorship,thissubjectiveexperienceofglitchisparadoxicallyshared bymany,whichmakesglitchtheorydifficulttopractice,accessibletomany,contestable andnecessary.Anintendedordesignederrorcanstillrightfullybecalledglitchart;and glitch art is not always just a personal experience of shock, but can be a metaphorical expression,dependentuponmultipleagentsforinterpretation.Accordingly,itislessinterestingfortheorytopolicethedifferencebetweentrueorfalseglitchart,thantounderstandhowandthroughwhichtechnologicalsystemsandculturalfabricsanyparticular workofglitchartcomestobeunderstoodandexperiencedasglitch. Atthesametime,somerecentshiftswithintherealmofglitchartareimportanttokeep track of. It seems that increasingly, glitch art practices downplay the technological dimensionofglitch,andthattheconceptofglitchhaschanged.Astheerroritselfhasbeen increasinglygentrified,theglitchisalreadybeingsupposedlyupgradedtomorestatic andimagisticvalues(minustheradicalmoment(um)ofglitch).Glitchisalsobecominga prominentareaofstudy,andarchiveofthought,forthemediacultureintellectual.Academicspoliticizetheirworkthroughthesolidculturalandtechnologicalunderstanding ofdigitalsocietydevelopedinandbyglitchculture,whileglitchrisksbeingreducedto justanothertheoryforthinkingthesubjectiveexperienceofmedia.Perhaps,sinceglitch artisfullofparadoxes,describingglitchartasagenre,institutionalizing,isyetanother paradoxthatcouldbeinlinewiththecorruptinganddamagingfuturepotentialsofglitch. Tothinkwithglitchistostraddleagapbetweennon-senseandknowledge.Itistosearch fortheunfamiliarwhileatthesametimetotenaciouslyde-familiarizeoneselffromwhat mightbetakenforgrantedofsoftware,hardwareandsignalrealitiesbylesscriticalmedia theoreticiansandartists.Toembraceandaccountforglitchisthereforetobepotentially opentonewcriticalmodesofthoughtandaction.Whenthesenotionsofglitchsradical differencebecome(paradoxically)standardized,theactualagentsofglitchcultureadapt and move to take on and mine other technologies, protocolized flows, and discourses elsewhere.Glitchworkisakindofcorruptinginvestigativework,followedbyavisionthat destroysitselfbyitsownpurposivemodesofinquiry.Likethebestideas,glitchpractices aredangerousbecausetheygenerateawareness. Someconsiderglitchesassolelytechnologicalphenomena,whileothersperceivethem associalconstructionsreactivetotechnologicalexpectationsoraesthetics.Glitchspeak explainstheutterancesthatdonotfailtobeheard,yetatthesametimeexistoutsideof knowledge.Atthesametime,culturalandtechnologicalflowsandfunctions,designedto betakenforgranted,cannotbeunderstoodwithoutsuchinterruptions.Thisiswhythe studyofglitchisnecessary.Studywhatisoutsideofknowledge,startandcontinuewith glitchstudies.Theglitchiswhatyoucanjustgetawaywith!

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