Tim Barker on Munari


Tim Barker begins his piece “Aesthetics of the Error: Media Art, the Machine, the Unforeseen, and the Errant” by introducing Bruno Munari and his series Useless Machines. His kinetic sculptures revolved around the idea that these “machines” were meant to interact with the surrounding environment. “The art of the machine here is an art in which the machine, after being built by human hands, is itself creative”(42).

Barker himself makes the connection between this creative concept seen in Munari’s work to the digital era of of digital errors and digital art. Art in the error, especially in a digital error, is an art that is outside of what was pre-programmed, pre-conceived, or the primary purpose or routine. Sometimes these errors lead to the unexpected. Barker’s two arguments deal with the process of error creation and the process of error manifestations in technology.

In his subsection The Art of the Machine/The Art of the Error Barker begins with “The condition that marks the post-digital age may be precisely the condition for error”. Now i may misunderstand this but i feel as if Barker is implying that the capacity to interact with or have an error is what helped move us to the post-digital age. With my limited understanding i’m not sure i agree. The condition for error must have existed prior to the digital age. the exploitation and exaggeration has existed in many forms in paintings prior to this. For example Washington Crossing the Delaware has exaggerated a profound error.


The condition of this error, which were driven because of aesthetic/artistic reasons, revolves around many things which include, the boat’s inaccurate model that would not have been able to hold that many people afloat, the crossing was historically taken during the night, horses were not brought on this cross, and humorously, Washington would not have been standing in such a “heroic” stance due to the risk of capsizing.


This error, is a historical error, but similarly to glitching is done for aesthetic and ideological reasons but as i agree the condition for error did not come with the post-digital era but existed prior.



3 thoughts on “Tim Barker on Munari

  1. I enjoy the fact that you mentioned the painting and the fact that it is not historically accurate. It makes me think critically about why we might choose to glitch something. Although some people feel that glitch is a mistake, this point that you make shows these errors can be created with purpose in mind whether it be to add aesthetic or narrative value to a work.


  2. I completely agree with your idea that the concept of glitch or error has been experimented with long before the advent of digital image processing. I see your example of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” as being a prime example of revisionist history for the purpose of aesthetic and patriotic appeal and not necessarily a glitch (also known as an error) on the artist’s part. Still, your principal still applies and comparing glitch art to past art movements is a valid way of coming to understand the driving ideology behind glitch.


  3. I guess the difference with glitch art is that the error is highlighted, whereas, with the painting, I’m sure many people have mistaken it as an accurate representation, not noticing the error. I like the idea of thinking of error in art in other ways. How can glitch art be used to critique artists depicting historical inaccuracies to push certain ideologies?


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