@nathmercy showed us glitch po(e)[li]tics

by ataylor1in6

@nathmercy showed us glitch po(e)[li]tics


scratching at cling film


it’s been a good year or so since i was stumbled towards Nathan Jones and his work with glitch and poetry. however, it is only recently that i think im starting to get it. i mean really get it. this breakthrough has come about by following the philosophy to its natural conclusion [or beginning depending on where you are standing on the circle] and doing it myself.

Firstly, you have to enter into the network, a given really, in order to access a rather rhizomatic community of datamoshers and benders. These moshers and benders (as far as i know they’re not associated with high-school style insults) mess with the code on a video or image file using a text editor, causing it to ‘glitch’.

Now, an important distinction.

a glitch is usually associated with the internal code of a program or software accidently messing up and causing something unanticipated to happen. The best example i can think of is a glitch in a video game.

a piece can be considered glitch art when it has been intentionally glitched by a human element.

these are of course gross over-simplifications and revealing the method to you flat out would be cheating, instead look at the bottom of this post and i will give you the end of a few threads and you can pull at them.

with a bit of luck they’ll unravel

on to the philosophy

code governs our lives, on a digital level, who of us lives without contact with the network every day?

and on a physical level, even if we remain abstinent from the network we still exist within it, there is digitally encoded data and information on all of us.

glitching our environment is an illustration of the control we could possess as well as an protest against our lack of it.

glitching allows us to reach into our digital lives and fuck with it.

making what we thought as inaccessible and one sided into something interactive, collaborative and material.


how can digital information be material?

it’s something much more easily coupled with the resurgence of vinyl or tape

vinyl and tape can be edited and are affected by their environments,

you can scratch a vinyl with your nail, causing it to play wrong (to glitch?) and after each playing a tape slowly destroys itself.

digital information can also be considered material in the same way.

if i glitch a picture by messing with its code

effectively running my nail across its surface

i have revealed its materiality, its fallibility.

the appearance of a glitch draws attention to its medium, in a similar way to the verfremdungseffekt of epic theatre, it alienates us from the image on screen, distancing us and reminding us of its artifice.

granted, if im smart ill always back up an item i about to glitch and im sure i could undo my mistake if i spent enough time on it.

this is not the point

the point is digital information is far more material than most of us assume.

take, for example, that the same video could play slightly (or completely) differently depending on what video player you run it on, what operating system you run it on, what computer you run it.

im sure you’ve experienced the warping and dis-alignment of text when you’ve tried to view a certain website on your phone.

this touches on another important aspect of glitch.

a glitch exists in the liminal space between code and vessel. The vessel being a piece of software or other program. it is tangible at the point of production and the point of reception but the actual glitching happens when the source code and the program interact with each other.

unfortunately, in most cases, we are barred from interacting with the hidden public language that governs our lives by copyright laws and other archaic chains on information.

in fact, under the surface, the possession and movement of ideas is intrinsic to the process of glitch art. The tools required for glitching, at least the ones suggested by glitch artists, are all free and open source, meaning that it’s free (duh) and anyone is free to tamper with and hack (modify and find new uses for) the base code of the program. this is in direct opposition to commercial and profit driven programs such as Microsoft, opposed by open office, even windows and Mac are squared against Linux and Ubuntu.

the philosophy being that ideas, in this case digital information but ideas are central to the idea, are free to copy and distribute as using it does not deplete the resource. this defies traditional economic ideas on supply and demand, where supply is infinite cost should decrease. this is not the case of course as thousands of us buy windows and Microsoft office every day.

this brings to light another argument about the ownership of information. when you buy a typical program and sign its agreement it is copyrighted and patented and owned, meaning that you own it only to the extent that you can use it, you cannot tamper with it. This is, of course, one of the main hurdles of glitch art, gaining access to the source code of a material and editing it. open source programs, of course, have no such problems.

evidently then, glitch art is entrenched in the contemporary debate over copyright and ownership, often subscribing to a copyleft idea, where information is freely traded (we are reminded of hakim bey). the closing of code hinders critical interaction and, indeed, progress. it empowers the producers at the top, sucking the funds, it is top down. open source is much more flat, much more in tune with the network. glitch art, then, has the potential to raise questions about our music, film and television industry, our science (industry?) as well as our ideas on ideas themselves.

importantly, glitch art is not a product, after ascribing itself to no economic value, it is only process. abstract and conceptual in look and in ideals.

this is why glitch artists urge everyone to give it a go,

here is a program

here is another

here is another

now become a glitch artist

participating in glitch art opens the door to contemporary debates and creates the potential to be critical of our relationships with our media and their interfaces.

so, thank you Nathan Jones.

who gave me no answers, just a dangling thread

much appreciated.

all above information above and below is a re-articulation of other peoples ideas