2009 Glitch Manifesto [EN]

Glitch Studies Manifesto

Rosa Menkman

2009 2010

https beyondresolution nyc3 digitaloceanspaces com

Rmenkman gmail com

Amsterdam Cologne 2009 2010 http rosa menkman blogspot com The dominant continuing search for a noiseless channel has been and will always be no more than a regrettable ill fated dogma

Even though the constant search for complete transparency brings newer better media every one of these new and improved technologies will always have their own fingerprints of imperfection

While most people experience these fingerprints as negative and sometimes even as accidents I emphasize the positive consequences of these imperfections by showing the new opportunities they facilitate

In the beginning there was noise

Then the artist moved from the grain of celluloid to the magnetic distortion and scanning lines of the cathode ray tube

he wandered the planes of phosphor burn in rubbed away dead pixels and now makes performances based on the cracking of LCD screens

The elitist discourse of the upgrade is a dogma widely pursued by the naive victims of a persistent upgrade culture

The consumer only has to dial 1 800 to stay on top of the technological curve the waves of both euphoria and disappointment

The user has to realize that improving is nothing more than a proprietary protocol a deluded consumer myth about progression towards a holy grail of perfection

Dispute the operating templates of creative practice fight genres and expectations

I feel stuck in the membranes of knowledge governed by social conventions and acceptances

As an artist I strive to reposition these membranes I do not feel locked into one medium or between contradictions like real vs virtual or digital vs analog

I surf the waves of technology the art of artifacts

The quest for complete transparency has changed the computer system into a highly complex assemblage that is often hard to penetrate and sometimes even completely closed off

This system consists of layers of obfuscated protocols that find their origin in ideologies economies political hierarchies and social conventions which are subsequently operated by different actors

Some artists set out to elucidate and deconstruct the hierarchies of these systems of assemblage

They do not work in binary opposition to what is inside the flows the normal uses of the computer but practice their art on the border of these flows

Sometimes they use the computers inherent maxims as a façade to trick the audience into a flow of certain expectation that the artwork subsequently rapidly breaks out of

As a result the spectator is forced to acknowledge that the use of the computer is based on a genealogy of conventions while in reality the computer is a machine that can be bend or used in many different ways

With the creation of breaks within politics and social and economical conventions the audience may become aware of the preprogrammed patterns

In this way a distributed awareness of a new interaction gestalt can take form

Get away from the established action scripts and join the avant garde of the unknown

Become a nomad of noise artifacts

There are three occasions in which the static linear notion of transmitting information can be interrupted

I use these instances to exploit noise artifacts that I sub divide as glitch encoding decoding of which compression is the most ordinary form and feedback artifacts

Etymologically the term noise refers to states of aggression alarm and powerful sound phenomena in nature rauschen such as storm thunder and the roaring sea

But when noise is explored within a social context the term is often used as a figure of speech and as such has many more meanings

Sometimes noise stands for unaccepted sounds not music not valid information or what is not a message

Noise can also stand for a often undesirable unwanted other and unordered disturbance break or addition within the signal of useful data

Here noise exists within the void opposite to what already has a meaning

Whichever way noise is defined the negative definition also has a positive consequence it helps by re defining its opposite the world of meaning the norm regulation goodness beauty and so on

Noise thus exists as a paradox while it is often negatively defined it is also a positive generative quality that is present in any communication medium

The voids generated by a break are not only a lack of meaning but also powers that force the reader to move away from the traditional discourse around the technology and to open it up

Through these voids artists and spectators can understand the politics behind the code and voice a critique towards the digital media

It can be a source for new patterns anti patterns and new possibilities that often exist on the border or membrane


The glitch is a wonderful experience of an interruption that shifts an object away from its ordinary form and discourse

For a moment I am shocked lost and in awe asking myself what this other utterance is how was it created

Is it perhaps a glitch

But once I named it the momentum the glitch is no more

But somewhere within the destructed ruins of meaning hope exists a triumphal sensation that there is something more than just devastation

A negative feeling makes place for an intimate personal experience of a machine or program a system showing its formations inner workings and flaws

As a holistic celebration rather than a particular perfection the glitch can reveal a new opportunity a spark of creative energy that indicates that something new is about to be created

The glitch has no solid form or state through time it is often perceived as an unexpected and abnormal mode of operandi a break from one of the many flows of expectations within a technological system

But as the understanding of a glitch changes when it is being named so does the equilibrium of the former glitch itself the original experience of a rupture moved passed its momentum and vanished into a realm of new conditions

The glitch is a new and ephemeral personal experience

Use bends and breaks as a metaphor for difference As an artist I find catharsis in disintegration ruptures and cracks

I manipulate bend and break any medium towards the point where it becomes something new

This is what I call glitch art

Even so to me the word glitch in glitch art means something slightly different than the term glitch

The glitch art genre moves like the weather sometimes it evolves very slowly while at other times it can strike like lightning

The art works within this realm can be disturbing provoking and horrifying

Beautifully dangerous they can at once take all the tensions of other possible compositions away

These works stretch boundaries and generate novel modes they break open previously sealed politics and force a catharsis of conventions norms and believes

Glitch art is often about relaying the membrane of the normal to create a new protocol after shattering an earlier one

The perfect glitch shows how destruction can change into the creation of something original

Once the glitch is understood as an alternative way of representation or a new language its tipping point has passed and the essence of its glitch being is vanished

The glitch is no longer an art of rejection but a shape or appearance that is recognized as a novel form of art

Artists that work with glitch processes are therefore often hunting for the fragile equilibrium they search for the point when a new form is born from the blazed ashes of its precursor

Even so glitch art is not always or by everyone experienced as an art of the momentum many works have already passed their tipping point

This is because glitch art exists within different systems for instance the system of production and the system of reception

Not only the artist who creates the work of glitch art is responsible for the glitch

The foreign input wrongly encoded syntaxes that lead to forbidden leakages and data promiscuity the hardware and the software the channel that shows functional

collisions and the audience who is in charge of the reception the decoding can also be responsible

All these actors are positioned within different but sometimes overlapping flows in which the final product can be described or recognized as glitch art

This is why an intended error can still be called glitch art and why glitch art is not always just a personal experience of shock but has also become a genre a schematic metaphor for a way of expression that depends on multiple actors

Realize that the gospel of glitch art also tells about new norms implemented by corruption

Over time some of the glitches I made developed into personal archetypes I feel that they have become ideal examples or models of my work

Moreover some of the techniques I and others used became easily reproducible for other people either because I explained my working process or sometimes because of the development of a software or plugin that automatically simulated or recreated a glitching method that then became something close to an effect

I have started to believe that the popularization and cultivation of the avant garde of mishaps has become predestined and unavoidable

The procedural essence of glitch art is opposed to conservation the shocking experience perception and understanding of what a glitch is at one point in time cannot be preserved to a future time

The beautiful creation of a glitch is uncanny and sublime the artist tries to catch something that is the result of an uncertain balance a shifting un catchable unrealized utopia connected to randomness and idyllic disintegrations

The essence of glitch art is therefore best understood as a history of movement and as an attitude of destructive generativity it is the procedural art of non con formative ambiguous reformations

Nevertheless some artists do not focus on the procedural entity of the glitch

They skip the process of creation by destruction and focus directly on the creation of a formally new design either by creating a final product or by developing a new way to re create or simulate the latest glitch archetype

This can for instance result into a plug in a filter or a whole new glitching software

T h i s f o r m o f c o n s e r v a t i v e g l i t c h a r t o f t e n f o c u s e s m o r e o n d e s i g n a n d end products then on the procedural breaking of flows and politics

There is an obvious critique to design a glitch means to domesticate it

When the glitch becomes domesticated controlled by a tool or technology a human craft it has lost its enchantment and has become predictable

It is no longer a break from a flow within a technology or a method to open up the political discourse but instead a cultivation

For many actors it is no longer a glitch but a filter that consists of a preset and or a default what was once understood as a glitch has now become a new commodity

But for some mostly the audience on the receptive end these designed errors are still experienced as the breaks of a flow and can therefore righteously be called glitches

They don t know that these works are constructed via the use of a filter

Works from the genre glitch art thus consist as an assemblage of perceptions and the understanding by multiple actors

Therefore the products of these new filters that come to existence after or without the momentum of a glitch cannot be excluded from the realm of glitch art

Even so the utopian fantasy of technological democracy or freedom that glitch art is often connected to has often little to do with the colonialism of these glitch art designs and glitch filters

If there is such a thing as technological freedom this can only be found within the procedural momentum of glitch art when a glitch is just about to relay a protocol

Not when one disruptive click is just about to create a new design

Celebrate the critical trans media aesthetics of glitch artifacts I use glitches to assess the inherent politics of any kind of medium by bringing it into a state of hypertrophy

Within software art the glitch is often used to deconstruct the myth of linear progress and to end the search for the holy grail called the perfect technology

In these works the glitch emphasizes what is normally rejected as a flaw and subsequently shows that accidents and errors can also be welcomed as new forms of usability

The glitch does not only invoke the death of the author but also the death of the apparatus medium or tool at least from the perspective of the technological determinist spectator and is often used as an anti software deterministic form

This fatal manner of glitch presents a problem for media and art historians who try to describe old and new culture as a continuum of different niches

To deal with these breaks historians have repeatedly coined new genres and new media forms to give these splinter practices a place within this continuum

As a result an abundance of designations like databending datamoshing and circuitbending have come to existence which in fact all refer to similar practices of breaking flows within different technologies or platforms

Theorists have also been confronted with this problem

For them terms like post digital or post media aesthetics frequently offer a solution

Unfortunately these kinds of terms are misleading because in glitch art post actually often means a reaction to a primer form

But to act against something does not mean to move away from it completely in fact a reaction also prolongs a certain way or mode at least as a reference

I think that an answer to the problems of both historians and theoreticians could be found when glitch art is described as a procedural activity demonstrating against and within multiple technologies

Something I describe as critical trans media aesthetics

The role of glitch artifacts as critical trans media aesthetics is twofold

On the one hand these aesthetics media show a medium in a critical state a ruined unwanted not recognized accidental and horrendous state

These aesthetics transform the way the consumer perceives the normal every accident transforms the normal and describe the passing of a tipping point after which the medium might become something new

On the other hand these aesthetics critique the medium genre interface and expectations

They challenge its inherent politics and the established template of creative practice while producing a theory of reflection

The nomad of noise travels the acousmatic videoscape I am a voyager of videoscapes I create conceptually synesthetic artworks that use both visual and aural glitch and other noise artifacts at the same time

These artifacts shroud the black box as a nebula of technology and its inner workings

What actually happens when a glitch occurs is unknown I stare at the glitch as a void of knowledge a strange dimension where the laws of technology are suddenly very different from what I expected and know

Here is the purgatory an intermediate state between the death of the old technology and a judgement for a possible continuation into a new form a new understanding a landscape a videoscape

Whenever I use a normal transparent technology I only see one aspect of the actual machine

I have learned to ignore the interface and all structural components to be able to understand a message and to use the technology as easy and fast as possible

The glitches I trigger show the technology as the obfuscated box that it actually is and not absent or transparent

They shroud its inner workings and the source of the output as a sublime black veil while they confront me with a message that I cannot understand

I perceive the glitches and the machine without understanding where they originate from

This realization gives me the opportunity to concentrate better on their formal qualities to interpret their structures and to learn more from what I can actually see

These glitching technologies create an acousmatic videoscape in which I can perceive an output outside of my goggles of immediacy transparency speed and usability

In the acousmatic videoscape the critical trans media aesthetics reflect on the perception of technology and its messages they create an opportunity for self reflexivity self critique and self expression

In the acousmatic videoscape synesthesia exists not just as a metaphor for transcoding one medium upon another with a new algorithm but as a conceptually driven meeting of the visual and the sonic within the newly uncovered quadrants of technology

http videoscapes blogspot com I curate a Vimeo video pool about conceptual synesthetic artifact videos http vimeo com groups artifacts