Monday, 14 May 2018

What is Glitch art ( Digital Transformations part 6 - How is it made? Codecs and aesthetics )

Manipulating the h261 codec before compiling into ffmpeg

A codec ( short for encode decode ) defines how a moving image , sound or still will be encoded into a data stream or container and can then be read back using the corresponding decoder . We can get between the 2 processes by introducing error at either stage, the nature of that intervention and the codec involved determines the final results , (though often these results need to be captured in playback by using screencapture) depending on variables such as size , format and movement , a video with little movement will not bend that much , a video with lots of movement will change greatly , jpeg is harder to bend than say bmp , raw video reacts to sonification better than H264 . Generally raw file formats are easier to work with than compressed formats , different file viewers will show the same image or video differently , vlc won't play the snow codec , one of the most beautiful codecs to break , but another viewer like mpv will, so hardware and software choices become important , and can change the results of what has been done to a file . In the same way as knowing how to stretch a canvas is important in painting , as is how to mix and thin oil paints or acrylics, Glitch aesthetics are reliant on the building blocks of codecs , or in analog glitch the language of the hardware to which they are tied . 

Glitch art is a process , that process can be used to describe what is and what isn’t glitch art - these are some of the processes and programs we use

Mario Pinto Balsameo -2016
Rob Mac - wordpad effect

The wordpad effect - quite simply open a bmp file in wordpad , the standard simple text editor present in windows in windows 95 alter some data , save it as txt , rename it to bmp then open it as an image again , all files are information , they take on their correct form when using the correct program if you use the wrong program they become corrupted - can also be applied to audio and video in most text editors , each giving a different result. Using wordpad also leads into hex editing , the physical manipulation of the hex code that makes up each file in machine readable form.
Sonification  - opening an image or video file in an audio editor such as Audacity , applying effects then saving .

Kevin Chambers -divx-aic-dds-audacity 

Datamoshing is probably one of the most accessible and widespread forms of glitch art , a way to play with compression artifacts that relies on the structure of video files such as xvid and mp4 which break motion into changing and unchanging , recording only the change between each frame , datamoshing involves either removing the I frames which indicate motion so that images start to blend into each other or interleaving two different videos at points where one breaks through the other pioneered in works such as divxprime a collaboration between Bertrand Planes and Christian Jacquemin in 2006 on a modified divx codec.

Enad Yenrac - Cavs Hex-editing and datamosh.

One of the most commonly used tools for this is Avidemux which in older versions allowed you to load a video file and manually search through a file removing the i frames then trans-coding the file with the errors still in place , though primarily a tool that works with h264 in mp4 it works well with xvid in avi wrapper and strangely webm a newer form of codec from Google ( otherwise known as vp8/9) which breaks as soon as you move through it enabling you to live datamosh ( though not on newer versions ) . There are newer scripts , especially Kasper Ravels' Tomato ( available through git hub) and also the ruby script Aviglitch which automates the tedious task of removing I frames.

Processing is coding for artists , Processing is a bit like a swiss army knife for artists , it covers video , image , sound , interaction in an easily understandable form which is open source and free to use and modify , one of the newer tools we use is made within processing - the glic codec .Which gathers together many of the faults and possibility's inherent within different file formats to enable easier manipulation which can result in images like the next ones:
Daniel Vasconcelas - glic codec in processing.

Mael Lencot - glic and webp
Processing can also be used to create another strand in glitch art , generative art : 
Robert Hruska-krotitel-pixelov

Pixel sorting , pixel sorting is probably the most contentious and overused method in glitch art , it basically sorts colour values of pixels by brightness and colour, there are a many tutorials on how to do it , and even photoshop/ae plug-ins you can buy to automate it and make it easy ,( though ease of making implies laziness of thought and the derision of your fellow glitch artists - we prize novelty and a unique approach) original processing scripts were created by Kim Asendorff in 2012 and since then have gone on to delight and ruin many page feeds.  
Cliff Potberg - grshit pixelsort-2015
Detterentpoem -pixelsort

Heinz Schielmann-2017
 For the truly lazy send a picture to Twitterbot @pixelsorter  ( created by  Way Spur Chen).
My own personal introduction to glitch art was through camera error and finding the work of Philip Stearns and his ‘year of the glitch’ from 2012 find that here . This is one of the cameras I use in a lot of my own video work stripped down and being worked upon ( here I'm soldering onto the ccd to create shortcircuit points).

There is a whole subculture and companies devoted to rewiring and remaking old video mixers and effects consoles for reuse in video installations , music videos and art , one of the best companies is Tachyons who release well made and desirable video synths .

Tachyons opti-glitch video synth in action.

 3d .obj moshing one of the more interesting sub-genres of glitch art involves taking 3d computer models and running htem through the glitch process , best typified by the work of Mark Klink , allied with the possibilities of 3d printing ( and 3d printing error ) this has a real possibility of changing sculptural practice - imagine being able to freely share , download and print and remix, what previously would have been the preserve of the collector, gallery or museum )  find Marks work at

Douglas.Paul.nonononono-transient permanence
Mark Klink - head 2.022-variant01

Mark Klink - assembly 010 v03

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