Friday, 11 May 2018

What is Glitch art ? ( Digital Transformations talk part 1)

We live in an environment which though increasingly mediated and experienced through technology, which promises a fitter, happier more productive life is filled with error.


The notorious Windows blue screen of death, a 404 error looking for a website which is unreachable or unreadable in an outdated browser missing plug-ins,

skipping CDs , VHS tracking errors ( for those of us who remember VHS), sat navs directing us off cliffs or to move to roads which do not exist , the crashing of driver-less cars which fail to recognize obstacles, creepy Alexa voices laughing randomly in the night:

In broken times we make broken art that reflects the fractured nature of our existence , the distracting siren call of social media updates , funny cat gifs , glitch art looks at everything with a hammer in its eye .

What is it ?

Glitch art is a way to interrogate that error - through the creative exploitation and creation of error within software and hardware .

When I talk about Glitch art I will be referring to visual art specifically - Glitch has a long history in music , especially Techno , Hip Hop and Electronica , Chiptune ( see Autechre , Aphex twin , Radiohead) and the newer Extratone genre, which goes back into the nineties and arguably the fifties with music concrete .

Where is it ?

Glitch art generally exists within the gallery of the screen, its natural environment and breeding ground , in places like You tube, on Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr with its rich feed of work

or groups like Glitch Artists Collective on Facebook,

or built upon banks of monitors in installations by Cracked Ray Tube ( one of the standard forms of new media art the stack of CRTs )

Glitch art is related to :

Though I’m going to be talking primarily about Glitch art its useful to define other movements which are contemporaneous , to avoid later confusion as visually one may look like the other but come from different intentions .

New aesthetic 

Google map error

a movement commonly acknowledged to have emerged around 2012 - it talks about the newer phenomenon of virtual and real life boundaries starting to merge and blur think drone photography , Pokemon go , ubiquitous surveillance and a nostalgia for older games machines , graphics and iconography - in music the chip tune phenomenon ( chip tune music made with older technology such as the c64 sid sound card and super Nintendo - a nostalgia for a future crossed with the knowledge of observation), it also appropriates some of the language of glitch art .

Vaporwave :

Beachport channel by Campton Raven
Vaporwave is the child of software and hardware dreams that never quite happen , a play on the term vapor-ware ( software or hardware  features that are always coming soon but never quite arrive ) it encompasses cool glitch jazz and synth tunes from Ceefax after station close down along with an iconography that plays with old computing adverts , classical sculpture , 80s smash hits design , dolphins and lots of irony - it’s a nostalgic look back to a future that never happened

Forward to a retro future ( artist unknown)

Perfect users - not so much a movement , more a mindset and commentary on how we use Facebook and social media in general, it uses some of the techniques and language of glitch art ( there is a large crossover of artists between each genre ) and in its reuse of notification icons and emojis it has a lot akin with post-modernism . Typified by the Facebook group perfect users and the work of William Wolfgang Wunderbar

And also the video work of Harlan Ogilvy

Fashwave ( vaporwave for alt-right Nazis )

Fashwave ( or alternately Trumpwave) is a strange phenomenon in that it appropriates the language of vaporwave , especially the classical sculptures ( remember Nazi culture leaned heavily on the neoclassical and an idea that modern art was degenerate ) fashwave works by co-opting INTERNET trends and furthering their message by infiltrating groups with co-opted imagery and trying to subvert the conversation and direction of groups by making the unacceptable gradually acceptable - essentially a Trojan horse.

okay , so now we have some definitions out of the way how did we get here ?

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