Datascapes and Noisefields

A Study in Glitch Aesthetics

Last year in a blog post, Rosa Menkman made a distinction between #glitch == error and #glitch == effect. She qualifed my work and that of a number of other artists as inhabiting the terrain of #glitch == effect. I understand her reasoning and yet am not wholly satisfied with it, as I contemplate how “glitch artists” operate, coders and non-coders alike. The crux of the problem lies in the sense of predictability implied by that word “effect.”

Speaking of sudden enlightenment in Zen Buddhism, Alan Watts averred that satori was an accident. But, he added, meditation made you accident-prone. While I don't doubt that there are canned glitches showing up as DIY instruction sets, plug-ins or patches, it appears to me that artists who are engaged with the #glitch == effect side of the mushroom are essentially running accident-prone processes. For example, rather than trying to control my application GlitchSort, one conjures up accidents with it. If it were easy to control, the accidents would loose their charm. The accidents possess an aesthetic, the signature of the algorithmic processes that generate them, and in that sense are effects. The aesthetic is open-ended. At times I apply it in the spirit of Baudelaire's aesthetics of evil, at times as a field of algorithmic abstraction, at times as a visualization technique. The images in this gallery offer all three possible readings, sometimes in a single image.

A large selection of my glitch images can be found here, in my Flickr account.

These images are available as archival prints at Ignotus Editions.