[-empyre-] glitch device/divide

Nick Briz nickbriz at gmail.com
Fri Dec 9 07:26:23 EST 2011

I hope this list clicks on links...

Marc, you bring up a lot of good points in that
getting organized openly is ambitious and/or rewarding and/or exciting
and/or problematic and/or dangerous. This is something that we (the
organizers of GLI.TC/H) are/have been dealing with + have had many
internal/external conversations about. I gave the essay a quick pass, but
will post my thoughts/questions after a more thorough read.

John et al,

> This is not to derail the discussion, but to encourage advocates to think
> more clearly on what a glitch is supposed to be. A bug? The effect of
> triggering a bug? Is exploiting a software flaw 'glitch' even if it doesn't
> create cybersnazzy visuals or auditory effects? What if that software flaw
> is a misconfiguration and not a coding or design error? Is a glitch still a
> glitch if no one knows it happened? Are the mundane error messages in my
> /var/log 'glitch'?
> The truth is, the glitch art I have seen is so occluded and hermetic that
> its impossible to generate a proper understanding of what glitch
> practitioners consider to be glitch. Perhaps a form of getting political
> would be to open glitch workflows and practice, explain the browser panics,
> and do something beyond fetishizing the glitch (like, perhaps, explaining
> it?).

I myself have only really spent the last 5/6 years engaging with these
(glitch) ideas directly (which I realize is far less than many of you,
who've been on, "since monitors blinked green phosphor cursors"), I'm also
new to -empyre- and am only starting to get a sense for the kind of
conversation that it facilitates. The questions John Haltiwanger proposed
is a compressed.zip of a disappointing direction this thread seems to be
heading in. For all the theorizing + defining + [de]codifying I've done, my
theories have been colored significantly (sometimes in unexpected ways) by
the activity of these [glitch art] communities. Like Curt said, "It would
help me to better understand what [many] are claiming if you would list
some of these [-insert claim here-] glitches specifically."  Marc, there
were a couple of incidents/situations the last few years that lead me to
feel like glitch's, "most attractrive quality [was] sacrifice[d]" and that
in fact, some very important doors where closed. However, the
works/discussions/activities that followed proved me wrong, old doors
weren't exactly closed, nor were new doors exactly
opened<http://www.biglongnow.com/> (this
is where binaries become problematic), rather doors became windows and new
portals/wormholes spawned (as an example, the response to the Kanye West's
music video and the "rise" of data-moshing).

Regardless of whether we really understand what a glitch *is*, it's safe to
say we have at least an *awareness* of its occurrence--we know such a thing
exists. Proof is found in how, as Rosa explains in her book
it functions as a catalyst for artists/theorists/enthusiasts [this is the
moment(um)] this catalyst becomes an array of impetuses, as I mentioned
before. I should clarify, not every item in the array cares to "change
culture" though some do. Proof again of such a moment(um) can be seen in
the terabytes of activity found throughout these glitch art communities.

As to the layers of potential (political/social/cultural/philosophical)
that glitch brings, I agree with Julian that a "Purely aesthetic
fetishising of glitch depreciates this potential." However, by no means
does the Max MSP mimicry out weigh (or even out number) the (again
terabytes) of engaging work that's been rendered in the fray the last
couple years:


*[ Domesticated Glitch: as a search for meaning ]*

You've got a fair amount of artists who provoke/instigate glitches (as
opposed to mimic) in the interest of presenting/exploring ideas, themes,
concepts [this is one approach i.e. a few items from the array]. These
artists often "tame" (as Marc put it) or "domesticate" (as Rosa explains
it) these glitches to form a kind of palette/inventory they use to make
their work + present their arguments. (as a side note: see Vernacular of
File Formats<http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9054743/lofi%20Rosa%20Menkman%20-%20A%20Vernacular%20of%20File%20Formats.pdf>
 and Ceibas: For Mobile Video
One example of this approach can be seen in the works of Evan Meaney. One
of my favorite glitch pieces is Shannon's
an ode to the godfather of compression Claude E. Shannon as well as a
poetic/ghostly reminder of the assumptions we make about human + computer
memory and [im]mortality (here's a video
did with Evan for the Art21 blog).  Another artist with a similar approach,
though for drastically different ends, is Jimmy Joe
who incorporates his glitch/palette in the interest of
presenting/exploring/creating a digital-www-psychedelic narrative from a
parallel dimension (here's a
review<http://fnewsmagazine.com/2011/02/review-roundup/> I
wrote for one of Jimmy's solo shows for Fnewsmagazine ).

*[ Unstable Files: as a political tactic ]*

Evan and Jimmy's works are stable videos, they're "tame" and "domesticated"
(rather than wild and unpredictable), but this domestication is necessary
for them to achieve their (very different) intentions. Other times artists
have instigated glitches and have skipped the "domestication" process and
presented (in various ways/forms) corrupted/unpredictable files to an
audience/user. There are also different impetuses behind this approach
(another few items from the array). Personally, I've done this to help
identify/address the ways different technologies effect/color the
content/media we receive through them and how this influence of the system
on the information we receive often goes unnoticed (the system, of course,
makes great efforts to remain invisible). One piece, an-uh-mit
data<http://www.nickbriz.com/anuhmitdata.htm> (2008)
is a collection of single frame (corrupted) loops, each browser interprets
(and essentially remixes) these frames differently. In another piece, Black
Compressed <http://www.nickbriz.com/blackcompressed.html> (2009), I upload
the same 4min and 33second black silent video to various media hosting
sites, none of the videos looks the same (nor do they look pitch black).

"Take the simplest intentional glitch gesture, data-bending an image.
Anyone on the glitch art flickr group will tell you that the content of an
image has less effect on the way your image will glitch than the particular
file format, the medium. A portrait, a landscape and a cat will all giltch
the same way, a jpg, a gif and a png will not. Even in this simplest glitch
gesture (a data-bend) we’re forced to address an image as a medium, a file,
a container for ones and zeroes and not mearly as a portrait, a landscape
or a cat. Regardless of whether you prefer databending on textEdit or in
Hex Editor you’ll always have to right click that image file and choose
“Open With”, because if you double click that file your operating system
makes an assumption about what or how you want to see. Additionally, if you
bend the image too much, your glitch file is replaced with an “error”
message … another assumption. Glitches (and glitch art as a product/genre)
that once existed may not, if the technology[ists] decides/assumes that you
don’t want to see."

--from my lecture (the medium is the [error] message) at the "Politix in/of
Glitch" panel at this year's GLI.TC/H

*[ Fetishized Glitch or Glitch Inspired ]*

It's been called a "filter" or a "glitch-a-like", but I think rather than
understanding the Max/MSP approach as invaluable fetishized mimicry, I
think it's more useful to say that some work is "glitch inspired." This
opens up the conversation a bit more. Yes, a lot of this work isn't
particularly interesting to me, and sometimes even upsetting. But most of
these artists do not intend to "depreciate this [glitch's] potential", as
Julian put it, but rather are simply inspired by it, and often times this
inspiration doesn't come in the form of an aesthetic injection but rather a
conceptual one. This was the case with one particular submission we
received but weren't able to include in GLI.TC/H this year (which
jon.satrom recently brought to my attention again) called Border
"Participants collected entries from a database used to police the
[US/Mexico] border. As a result, the border was conceptually and
symbolically haunted for the duration of the one-day action as the border
policing structure received over 1,000 reports of deceased migrants
attempting [to] cross the border." Though, this is more glitch inspired
than it is directly glitch art, many clear connections/comparisons can be
made to other works like that of Evan Meaney's mentioned above.

*[Misc Items]*

There are so many more approaches and items in this array, but I fear
making this email longer than anyone will care to read, but just to rattle
out a few (to give more perspective to the terabytes I'm referring to),
there's a wealth of real-time works/groups, like Vaudeo Signal
and Cracked Ray Tube <http://crackedraytube.com/>, which are great examples
of framing/collaborating with unstable media, not so much domesticating it
but rather caging it for a moment (riding the wild stallion) in a
performative setting. Also, there's an approach/thread I'm particularly
excited about that positions glitch as a playful rupture on our normative
uses of technology (namely Glti.ch Kareoke <http://glti.ch/> and
jon.satrom's prepared desktop series <http://vimeo.com/15821484> which was
mentioned earlier). Lastly, to throw one more wrench in this
"is-glitch-a-glitch-if-we-call-it-a-glitch" position, JODI<http://jodi.org/>.
I think all I have to say is JODI, but in case that needs clarification, I
expressed some of these thoughts during an interview with Chicago Art
their failed/succesful attempt to interview JODI over email.

On Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 11:55 AM, jonCates <joncates at gmail.com> wrote:

> hi John Haltiwanger
> you are correct that certain breakdowns && collapses that occur on large
> socio-economic scales are planned in advance + set in motion by && for
> those who have consolidated wealth + operate from militarized/corporate
> positions of power, from bursting bubbles to controlled demolitions. these
> are the logics of Shock Doctrines + Disaster Capitalism, as Naomi Klein
> writes
> but when you write that the Glitch Art that you "have seen is so occluded
> and hermetic that its impossible to generate a proper understanding of what
> glitch practitioners consider to be glitch" im wondering what projects in
> specific you are responding to?could you name a few that you are referring
> to that have the qualities you are suggesting of being 'occluded' +/or
> 'hermetic'?
> also, when you write that a form of 'explaination' of glitch in Glitch Art
> would be "getting political" by openning "glitch workflows and practice", i
> wonder if you have considered what i wrote/posted earlier about Dirty New
> Media artists using Prepared Systems +/or digitalPunk improvisation in
> Noise projects? + mayhaps more importantly if you know the work of Nick
> Briz, whois a participant in this discussion, whose work:
> Copy This Drive - Nick Briz (2011)
> http://nickbriz.com/copythisdrive/
> + even more directly, his:
> GLITCH CODEC TUTORIAL - Nick Briz (2010 - 2011)
> http://nickbriz.com/glitchcodectutorial/
> vry literally enacts what you are suggesting would be explicative Glitch
> Art that opens + mobilizes politics...?
> jonCates
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20111208/21d42dae/attachment.htm>

More information about the empyre mailing list