[-empyre-] glitch device/divide

Rosa Menkman rosa_menkman at hotmail.com
Fri Dec 9 06:49:37 EST 2011

Dear Julian, 
Although I like some of the examples you gave and you made some engaging arguments, I feel like the way you end your email kind of shuts down a door for real engagement. Are you really just taking issue with the term 'glitch art' this movement has appropriated? 
Visual glitch art has been using the term glitch art for 10 years - Beflix was the first to coin it and since then a wide array of practices, works and shattered, side ways and full frontal movements have come and celebrated it. What is the point in going back 10 years and trying to rename history? 
Also: what about psychedelic art, or net art, or … conversations around the names of these movements could be had as well, but is that really what is interesting about them - I think it would be interesting to have content based conversation than these semiotics/name call-based ones.

I feel there has been a semiotic discussion, but very little actual work discussion, which is probably important for contextualizations. This is why I thought I would share my favorite glitch works of the last 2 year (there has been some throw down of older work so lets get that fresh) with explanations of why I like them!
A lot of glitch art has in one way or another to do with the exploitation of codecs. I don't think this is surprising because codecs are an underlying huge if not mega industry of digital cultures and something the user rarely things of, yet always depends on. 
Also, its true that not all of the artists in this list reference to their work as glitch art, but they have been adopted by glitch communities and referred to as such many times.
Also these are all kind of static, I could also have a list of performances, which would include a whole 
More favorite works that should be checked out, when interested/and in time: Curt Cloninger 'Twixt The Cup And The Lip (2011), Ben Baker-Smith, Infinite Glitch (2011), Melissa Barron, apple 2 crack screens woven on a tc-1 jacquard loom (2010)	.

Paul B. Davis, Codec (2009)
Paul B. Davis' second solo show at SEVENTEEN represented a step forward for the artist...though not necessarily one he expected to take. It was instigated by a semi-voluntary rejection of a practice that, until very recently, was central to his creative output and figured prominently in his debut exhibition at the gallery - Intentional Computing (2007). A curious turn of events led to this unforeseen repudiation and redefinition of practice:'I woke up one morning in March to a flood of emails telling me to look at some video on YouTube. Seconds later saw I 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.'Contentiously dubbed 'datamoshing', (or 'compression aesthetics', as Davis prefers to describe it), this practice ultimately emerged out of artefacts inherent in the compression algorithms of digitally distributed media. Davis seized upon the glitchy pixellation that is often present while viewing YouTube clips or Digital TV, and repurposed it as a tool of cultural rupture. Alongside other artists such as Paper Rad, Sven Konig and Takeshi Murata, he engaged this effect as a tool for aestheticized intervention, a fresh framework for analysis, and a new visual language.

Rosa Menkman, A Vernacular of File Formats (2010)
As a reaction to the popularization of certain effects - much like Paul Davis - the vernacular was a critique towards glitch becoming an estheticization and nothing more. The Vernacular was later followed up by Monglot, a software that allows you to transcode file formats and glitch images with the same difference within another file format (automatizing this and forcing people, hopefully, to move to more interesting ways of applying/using these media - as I expressed then). 

This is some of the text I wrote with it back then: 
Noise Art > Filter art > when Cool becomes Hot >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>  
Glitches are hot. 
It is clear from what we can see on MTV, Flickr, in the club or the bookstore. While the "Glitch: designing imperfection" coffee table book introduces the glitch design aesthetic to the world of latte drinking designers, and Kanye West uses glitches to sing about his imperfect love life, the awkward, shy and physically ugly celebrate under the header "Glitched: Nerdcore for life". Glitch has become hot. A brightly colored bubblegum wrapper that doesn't ask for much involvement, or offers any stimulus. Inside I find gum that I keep chewing - hoping for some new explosion of good taste - but  the more I chew it, the less tasty and more rubbery it gets. 
Glitch design fulfills an average, imperfect stereotype, a filter or commodity that echoes a stabilized "medium is the message" standard.  Naturally, the "No Content - Just Imperfection" slogan of this kind of hot glitch design is complimented by cool glitches.  In "The Laws of Cool", Alan Liu asks himself What is "Cool"? He describes that cool is the ellipsis of knowing whats cool and withholding that idea. Those who insist on asking, are definitely uncool.  
Cool glitches do not (only) focus on a static end product, but (also) on a process, a personal exploration or a narrative element (that often reflects critically on a medium). This is why cool is in a constant state of flux, as is the genre of "cool glitch art", which finally exists as an unstable assemblage that relies on the one hand the construction, operation and content of the apparatus (the medium) and on the other hand the work, the writer/artist, and the interpretation by the reader and/or user (the meaning). There is no one definition of cool glitch art. In an effort to make what was once cool now hot, or visa versa, I made this Vernacular of File Formats, in which I studied ways to exploit and deconstruct the organizations of file formats into new, brutalist designs to make it possible to now take a step beyond pure design, and start telling our own, glitch stories again. 
 …I am waiting for the first "Glitchs not dead" hoodie in H&M. And because "fans are as bad as the ignorant", for the sake of being bad, I will definitely wear the hoodie. Hoera!  

David Oreilly, Lady Gaga (2010)
In 2008 Oreilly published "compression real", a video based on datamoshing. In 2010, he claimed that after that, datamoshing was over [[and vector punk was dead]] - because he had done it already in 2008 (effectively ignoring or simply not being aware that this technique - the deletion of macro blocks reaches back to at least 2005 (but if I remember correctly, there have been artists using it since 2003). I made this silly video as a response. 
Later however, Oreilly made these images of lady gaga, which to me look a lot like vectorpunk (clipping art?). Whatever they are, I think they are some of the most beautiful images - I really like them (and btw, Oreilly has made some beautiful work and this is by no means a criticism, other then that I like this story in context of a discussion where people can only draw from as much as they know, and the rest is fluid for discussion. 

Kim Asendorf, Extrafile (2011)
For his graduate research into the role of the digital File Formats in the arts,  Kim Asendorf developed Extrafile: "New image file formats for artistic purposes". The Extrafile software gives artists and designers the opportunity to create exclusive file formats to personalize works of art. Extrafile offers an escape from the pandemonium of licensed image file formats (standards), the proprietary protocols that are under the rule of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO),  who authors,  dictates and judges standardization laws since 1947 (way before 1984!). ISO,  the part-time big brother of codecs,  developed some of the most important encoding protocols in the digital realm,  amongst whom for instance JPG. Extrafile could thus also be read as a critique and employed as a rebellion against an image-dictator that has been in power for over 60 (!) years.
Asendorf published his app without any examples of what you could do with it. Instead he asked a couple of glitch artists (me included) to show this app. Because codecs are often only visible when you break them. 

Poxparty, sOS (Satromizer OS) (2010) 
A completely functional iPad iOS.
"In sOS, Satromizing is more than just mere file corruption, it’s a foundational building block that can be integrated into any app. From sliders to scalers; from loaders to pre-loaders, the Satromizer building blocks are unmistakeable in Satromizer OS. Nearly everything you touch glitches before your eyes!"

Benjamin Gaulon, Karl Klomp, Gijs Gieskes Refunctmedia_v.2 (2011)
As part of the GLITCH festival in Dublin, Ireland that took place in 2011. I was there during install and what I really enjoy is the serious playfulness. 
The exhibition was opened with texts by Jussi Parikka and Alessandro Ludovico, amongst others. 

From the website:
"In the "Practice of Everyday Life" Michel de Certeau investigates the ways in which users-commonly assumed to be passive and guided by established rules-operate. He asserts:"This goal will be achieved if everyday practices, "ways of operating" or doing things, no longer appear as merely obscure background of social activity, and if a body of theoretical questions, methods, categories, and perspectives, by penetrating this obscurity, make it possible to articulate them.""ReFunct Media" is a multimedia installation that (re)uses numerous "obsolete" electronic devices (digital and analogue media players and receivers). Those devices are hacked, misused and combined into a large and complex chain of elements. To use an ecological analogy they "interact" in different symbiotic relationships such as mutualism, parasitism and commensalism.Voluntarily complex and unstable, "ReFunct Media" isn't proposing answers to the questions raised by e-waste, planned obsolescence and sustainable design strategies. Rather, as an installation it experiments and explores unchallenged possibilities of 'obsolete' electronic and digital media technologies and our relationship with technologies and consumption."

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