FAMST 109 GA
7 May 2018
Glitch seems to be a growing field for media artists and is finding its way into the popular culture. When you think of “Glitch” an aesthetic immediately comes to mind: pixelated images, vivid colours, and strange deformations. While artist exploit this to create visually and sonically appealing works, often when one encounters glitch in the real world it is met with frustration and annoyance. In our modern day capitalist driven society, maximum efficiency and productivity is what we value and can be reflected in almost all of our daily activities. Glitch disrupts this system. Error or Glitch is the physical manifestation of failure in communication within an operating system, causing a different result than the intended programmed outcome. While our capitalist, maximum efficiency obsessed culture may see these unintended results as an impediment to our everyday tasks; artists and creatives view these unintended outcomes as creating an opening for play and alternative modes of expression. In Glitch Studies Manifesto, written by Rosa Menkan, she defines glitch art as “find(ing) catharsis in disintegration,ruptures and cracks; manipulate, bend and break any medium towards the point where it becomes something new; create glitch art.” Here she clearly outlines the intent of using glitch for art, to ruin something unto the point of creation.
As technology grows exponentially, each new model or operating system that becomes developed is created with the intention of improving the efficiency and sleekness of the design. This hides the internal process and flow of information that is constantly transmitted behind our screens and portrays a false sense of perfection to its users. Our computers strive to eliminate the pixilated and hide the code that is behind our screens making the medium invisible and only the content visible to the user. Glitch serves to make the medium visible to the user, showing the operational logic and the messes we try so hard to hide behind the systems we use. This is why glitch has become so appealing to artist, the glitch in an of itself is a political statement against capitalist ideologies as well as the very systemic structures in our society that hide the issues and messes that we do not face. Glitch requires it’s audiences to think critically about the work and the ideologies criticized in the moment of malfunction. While glitch art is a relatively new genre in art, the conceptual motives behind its use have been in practice long before.
There are many parallels one can draw between glitch art and abstract expressionism. Abstract expressionism is a movement that began in New York during the 1940s in the post World War 2 era, a time period heavily defined by artistic censorship and paranoia from the McCarthy era. Artists used abstract subjects to make their work seem apolitical to non critical audiences while often holding a political message for insiders and critical examiners. Abstract Expressionism was a movement away from Regionalism and Social Realism, the two art movements yielded from the Great Depression, because it left a particular group of artists unsatisfied and wanting rich content with meaning and redolent of social responsibility, yet free of provincialism and explicit politics.
In 1947, Jackson Pollock developed a radical new technique, pouring and dripping thinned paint onto raw canvas laid on the ground (instead of traditional methods of painting in which pigment is applied by brush to primed, stretched canvas positioned on an easel). This allowed for Jackson to express his feelings through an act that lead to both controlled and unexpected results instead of careful planning. Thus, error played an integral role in his artistic process and well as his results. Glitch art requires a similar process of emphasizing the process rather than the outcome, setting up a scenario in which glitch will occur without having control over the manifestation of the glitch itself. Along with this, abstract expressionism relates to glitch in the sense of challenging the viewer to find the beauty in the chaos. Like glitch, abstract art can seem sporadic and unintended to the eye while serving a rather intentional purpose upon further examination.
For our final project our group wanted to create a piece of work that could be completely ours from the ground up. Meaning that every single part of our final installation would be originally crafted and envisioned by one of us. Knowing that we all could paint we tried to look for a style of art that we could recreate as well as draw parallels between glitch theory. We started by looking at artist like Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock as the basis of what we were trying to create. From this we derived the idea for our final project. Our goal is to create a series of abstract expressionist style paintings that we will then make into a video. From that we plan on using processing to glitch the video as well as our works of art into something completely different. Along with this, we plan on having an original piece of ambient music composed by Alex which we will then glitch and play alongside our video.
As mentioned above, we plan on expanding upon the work of artist like Willem De Kooning and Jackson Pollock for our initial paintings that we will use for the basis of our video. These two artist are known for their inventive methods such as Pollock’s drip painting technique and Kooning’s action painting. Below are some examples of what we wish to recreate. Doing some further research on artist who have attempted something similar to our project, I discovered Adrienne Crossman’s glitch work. While she mostly takes famous works of art and glitch them from there. A few abstract expressionist pieces appear among her work. My favorite piece of her work, although, happens to be a video of the statue david in which she glitches in all sorts of ways.
One other artists I found whom I feel that our project is the closest to building upon is that of Straut Atterberry, a painter and digital artist himself. He compressed a series of works by modern artist Piet Mondrian and Mark Rothko, creating two videos of dynamic glitch art. These formerly divided paintings morph into each other from one glitch to another flawlessly, what our group is hoping to do with our pieces of compressed work while adding another element to it through our glitched soundtrack.
As a group we are excited to work collaboratively to create this project from the ground up. Using the methods and ideologies that we have been studying all quarter to create a conceptual piece that we all will contribute too.