Tim Barker discusses the digital and pre-digital sensibilities of glitch art in “Aesthetics of the Error: Media Art. the Machine, the Unforeseen, and the Errant.”
Barker claims the task of the glitch artist is to prompt their image processing software to art errantly and thus create an aesthetic effect that is both alogical as well as aesthetically unique. In doing so, the glitch artist relies on their computer to create their art, not necessarily their individual talent with a paintbrush or pencil like a traditional artist. This is not to say that the glitch artist is without talent though. Barker writes, “The emphasis of the creative act is now on process, and in particular opening up this process to outside forces” (45). Barker goes on to draw a parallel between glitch art and the works of Marcel Duchamp.
The comparison of Duchamp’s “readymade” art to glitch art is reasonable. Readymade art in its advent challenged the accepted role of the artist in creating a work of art. Duchamp claimed through his work that the artist’s intentionality could serve as his brushstroke, and his completed canvas need not necessarily be “beautiful.”
Following Barker’s lead in comparing the process of creating glitch art to that of the processes of art history movements, I suggest that glitch is more similar to abstract expressionism and the work of Jackson Pollock. Pollock once famously said, “The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.” Therein lies the art of both abstract expressionism and glitch. The act of creating (in Pollock’s case, his physical splashing of paint onto enormous canvases) is the art and the final product of the painting is but a byproduct of the artistic process. I’d argue that glitch art too is more about the glitch- the error, the random, the mistake- and less about intentionality and thoughtful purpose.