[-empyre-] glitch device/divide

Julian Oliver julian at julianoliver.com
Thu Dec 8 05:28:23 EST 2011

..on Wed, Dec 07, 2011 at 09:34:18AM -0500, Eduardo Navas wrote:
> About what you write below,
> Your observation is a summary of what informs contemporary art practice, no
> matter the medium. The need for context that you point out is what makes all
> art discourse, no matter the form of delivery.  This is also what allows
> artists to worry about what they want to say rather than sticking to a
> specific form.  This brought about the concept of ³interdisciplinarity.²
> Duchamp figured this out a while back.
> However, it is because glitches are the result of a material occurrence that
> can be reproduced within a certain range of error once a person understands
> the process why they need to be discussed with a specific understanding of
> the context in which they take place, in direct relation to the material
> elements that make glitches ³glitches.²  This enables glitch artists to
> develop a field of aesthetics of their own.  I think that if we really
> thinkg about the term ³intrinsic² it only functions once we accept a
> specific context in which to discuss a thing to which an extra value based
> on discourse is added.  Glitches have values that are material (before that
> are recognized as glitches) and these values once recognized within the
> field of glitch art allow people to add on their own interpretations and
> develop a discourse.  This is what is relevant.

Indeed it is what is relevant, as it is with any cultural trope. It's here
however that software developers like myself find ourselves cynical about Glitch
Art precisely because we know that what we're often looking at/listening to is
not a glitch, rather an event designed to have the appearance of one. 

A glitch-concert using Max MSP is not glitch, rather the application of digital
synthesis to mimic sounds that sound like what we understand to be glitch,
namely electrical sparks, servos breaking under load, etc.  Similarly, someone
playing with GTK or Quartz Composer to manipulate a desktop interface such that
it performs unexpectedly isn't glitch, it's UX/UI design.

This leads us to the question "Can you design a glitch?". Perhaps you can only
design /with/ glitches, not glitches themselves..

If glitches are political at all it's in because they represent a possible
entry-point within an otherwise closed system, a 'de-punctualisation' (from
Latour) of the Black Box. What many call glitches are in fact just the beginning
of what later becomes an exploit (whether that be jailbreaking a device or
injecting malicious code into a process running on a server). In this way
glitches signal the possibility of further action; an opening, they express
freedom of movement.

Purely aesthetic fetishising of glitch depreciates this potential, I think.
After all, some of the most potent and transformative glitches in technological
history are quite boring to behold. To most, they'd probably go unnoticed.



> On 12/6/11 10:33 PM, "Evan Meaney" <emeaney1 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > so, my point. 
> > if glitches depend on specified contexts to function in the moment
> > and if they are functions of re-presentation and curatorial (or
> > curator-as-artist)
> > intent, then any critical work about a glitch is really critiquing the context
> > and
> > the curator, and not the glitch itself.
> > 
> > tl:dr - we appropriate glitches to our own purposes. let's stop pretending
> > that they
> > have intrinsic value when we classify them.
> > 
> > xo. 
> > evan
> > 
> > 
> > 

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Julian Oliver

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