Revealing Errors

“When technology is accepted, when it becomes invisible, [humanists] really need to be paying attention.”

In Benjamin Mako Hill’s article, Revealing Errors, he describes how technology designers hold so much power through their control of what users see and understand. This resonates with me because I have just begun to learn how to code in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and I now understand what it is like to control a page and transform it into anything I want. I feel a sense of both power and satisfaction when I type in certain codes and instantly see how the page changes, which shows me that I have the ability to manipulate any aspect of the page I want in order to emphasize what I think is important and/or aesthetically pleasing.

This has also led me to look at other websites differently and think about what certain interfaces allow and do not allow users to see or do. Before thinking about coding, the web design of a page usually did not cross my mind, and the limitations of certain pages were invisible to me. I think making a glitch in a code can be a very political act, because it challenges the restrictions imposed on people by certain technology designers who dictate the form of the medium in which we interact with technology. When errors reveal the so-called “man behind the curtain” of technology, they allow the technology user to reflect on the inner-workings of the function of the platform they use, and the user can then question the impact and effectiveness of said platform.

Hill goes on to discuss the misprinted word, which made me think about the autocorrect errors that I often encounter while typing on my iPhone. The function of autocorrect was to improve the typist’s spelling and grammar, but often results in a completely different word than what was originally intended. This is not necessarily a technological error, but a result of a technology that aims both to correct and to constrain the scope of one’s typing, which often misinterprets the typed word. Hill points out how users of t9 will encounter difficulties when typing profanities, which many may have experienced when the word “fucking” is notoriously autocorrected to “ducking,” which totally removes the intensity from the intended use of the word. Such technology can either improve one’s spelling, or restrain one’s self-expression through language, and ironically create errors rather than solve them.  Are the so-called “bad” words the errors, or is the censorship the real error?

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Digital Dualism And The Glitch Feminism Manifesto

It is interesting to consider how digital technology is becoming a huge part of human sexuality. Is Russell saying that orgasms are like glitches of the body?

Glitches remind us of the artificial nature of the digital world. They encourage us to return to the physical world.

We are so used to instant gratification in the digital realm. Glitches hinder this and force us to wait, often leading to frustration and restlessness. Maybe there is a lesson in patience to be learned from glitch. It is interesting to observe how the universe seems to fold in on some people when their Internet stops working for thirty seconds.

Is Russell speaking literally and saying that we should use glitches in our technology as opportunities to get down? I’m not quite sure how to interpret what she is saying. Maybe she means that our reactions to glitches, like losing your shit when the rainbow-wheel-of-death appears over Photoshop, can reveal deep insights about our selves, like realizing we’re impatient, impulsive monkeys.

“two selves, operating in isolation from one another, rather than one continuous self, two sides of a vivacious equation looped together in a continual narrative of daily living and human existence” (Russell)

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Woah dude…

So the glitch is the equivalent of foreplay when watching porn…

Glitch Feminism turns the idea of a glitch on its head. Since our current social system is already severely messed up, ideas that challenge it should not immediately be considered wrong. I think she proposes this as some sort of revolutionary thought when it’s a pretty obvious idea. Although I agree with the values of Glitch Feminism, she may be romanticizing it a little bit. Maybe not though. I’m not sure.

 

 

 

The Noise Floor: Signal and Noise

Peter Krapp’s chapter Noise Floor: Between Tinnitus and Raw Data discusses sound glitch by differentiating between noise and signal and between sound and sound art. Ultimately, Krapp realizes the potential of glitch in sound production, and its uses in innovation alongside the history of digital technology and evolution of sound.

The difference between noise and signal, according to Krapp, is under the intention in which the sound is made. Noise is to exclude all other sounds, and is a sound that is not intentionally made. Signals are sounds that have meaning and are created with a purpose.

The emphasis placed on intention in the chapter is interesting and yet again reminds me of various communication theories. Noise can occur in communicative capacities regardless of intent. Noise can also alter an interaction and create a different message than what was intended for the receiver.

The relationship between sound and sound art is a little more nuanced and complicated. The glitches that occur with digital technology allow for new sounds to be created. Digital noises, or “raw data,” as used by Krapp, are used in experimentation that often results in transformed works, different from music of prior eras (53).

Much of the rest of the chapter also reminds me of videos I have watched recently, in which music is created from the multitude of sounds computers make in everyday use. The various noises are arranged and repeated to musical pieces that sound similar to classical songs. Ordinary noises can be used to make recognizable art, but can regularly understood music can likewise be glitched to be nearly indecipherable.

Krapp concludes the chapter with the reminder that there is very much a spectrum of error and control on which the noise versus signal and sound versus sound art falls in the relationship between people and digital technology. The question here, I wonder, is whether or not either ends of this spectrum can be reached and what the implications of that may be.

Glitch Muse: Skrillex vs.The Beatles (Who Did Noise Better?)

 

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An accurate representation of myself listening to the  songs mentioned in this blog post.

This week, we are exploring the use of glitch and error in the context of sound and audio, and Peter Krapp’s chapter, Noise Floor: Between Tinnitus and Raw Data, addresses the ways in which noise has developed over the years into something that is now a part of our “aesthetic vocabulary” (62). One of the most interesting things about Krapp’s article is his connection between sound glitching and experimental music, which begs the question: how much music can be compressed in lossy sampling before it ceases to be music? (53)

I believe this is the main issue at hand, not only in this particular reading but also in a larger theoretical framework as well, because one aspect of glitching that I am preoccupied with is meaning, and the distinct changes in meaning that is derived when one chooses to impose error upon a piece of work.

Upon reading Krapp’s article, his ideas compelled me to reconsider what noise is, musically. Originally, for me at least, noise could be anything that I would call “garbage”. An unnecessary sequence of loud sounds, a cacophony of crap, and just a whole lot of shiz (pardon my French). And there is no better illustration of my own personal definition of noise than the ever-so operatic ragtime of Skrillex. Yes, Skrillex.

Now, here is a song that CLEARLY exploits sound glitches, noise, and multiple textures of distortion that can be heard throughout. To any normal human being, this song may very well be what invented the migraine. Does it make much sense? No. Will it make your ears bleed? Quite possibly. But of course, this may be due to what Krapp calls “the hegemony of a narrow operating definition of music” (57). And it’s true, because if it weren’t for this hegemony, then there wouldn’t be a distinction between what is “pop” music and what is anything beyond that, like the avant-garde or experimental. That being said, Krapp makes a good point when he mentions that different kinds of glitches in music can come off as all too similar-sounding:

“An important objection to casting the process of glitching or circuit-bending in an aesthetic dimension is that it might seem as if to a layperson, static is just static, so that different kinds of glitches would be indistinguishable. This could potentially be taken to mean that avant-garde art necessarily transcends an individual’s perceptual capacity, as repetition reduces originality and increases accessibility; because forms are intelligible, they reduce unpredictability” (69).

So is it completely reasonable that all the clicks, dings, and womps that you hear in Skrillex’s “Doompy Poomp” turns into a nonsensical fusion of literal noise? YES. Because according to Krapp, music that is so exploratory in sound may be beyond one’s ability to make any sense of it since its lack of formality and familiar structure renders it unpredictable. I’d like to think that Krapp would also not be the biggest Skrillex fan when he says that “music is not ‘electronic’ if it merely reproduces known sounds and forms”. SURELY, even The Beatles could produce better noise than this!

However, if that is the case, then what separates Skrillex from The Beatles and their song, “Revolution 9”? Is it a more credible or “artistic” piece than “Doompy Poomp” simply because it’s The Beatles? I would say no because it’s just as difficult to listen to as Skrillex, and both represent a musical style that sets itself aside from the easy-to-understand mainstream. But with all the high-brow criticism aside, I think that Krapp’s article has also allowed me to come to the conclusion that meaning is intrinsic to both the artist and the listener, individually, and perhaps sometimes even independently, for music is a medium that often celebrates resisting its semantics while putting on display the aesthetic freedom and opportunity.

Aesthetics of the Error

Tim Barker’s Aesthetics of the Error: Media Art, the Machine, the Unforeseen, and the Errant begins with a quote take from Bruno Munari’s manifesto about art in relation to the machine. Barker discusses Munari’s intentions with their manifesto, which aimed to convince artists to consider machines in art. Munari’s Useless Machines were abstract machines that were designed and then autonomous to their own creativity.

Barker attempts to understand the aesthetics of error by considering both the artist’s role in the machinatic art process, as well as the conditions which allow error to manifest.

The glitch aesthetic is exploited in both the sound and visual art making process, and though very much applicable to, is not limited to just digital art and can occur in other art mediums. Artists design the parameters within which machines are capable of creating, giving machines a certain “degree of freedom.”

The second section of Aesthetics of Error tells the reader to consider error to be potential that may or may not actually occur within any set of given conditions.

What is interesting about this reading is the scope of possibilities this conception of art and software allows artists. There is a definite tension between autonomy and dependence in the creation of art. Artists can choose, to an extent, what limitations to impose on themselves and that which they create.

And because no work exists in a vacuum, so nuance and intertextuality are pretty unavoidable, the interactions between not just the artist and machine are relevant, but the interactions between artist and audience, machine and audience, and art and audience are relevant as well. All of these different interactions thus open us to an even wider scope of potential possibilities. While there are existing limits and parameters, particularly from a social and societal standpoint,  there is, with these realizations, the endless potential to resist these limitations and create new works and identities.

Aesthetics of the Error- Human vs. Machine

In Tim Barker’s piece, Aesthetics of the Error: Media Art, the Machine, the Unforeseen, and the Errant, he breaks down his discussion into two segments: The Art of the Machine/The Art of Error, and Errors/Potentials/Virtuality. In both sections, I found the collaboration between human and machine to be both fascinating and thought provoking: How prominent is human intervention in the creation of glitch art as opposed to the power of both the machine processor and the virtual?

In the first section, Barker discusses the artist’s involvement in facilitating glitches through setting up what Manual DeLanda conceived to be “degrees of freedom” (46). This posits the artist as an overseer of the occurrence of the error by arranging certain conditions, while the machine itself creates the error. At first this made me think that the artist’s work is easy- just think of a concept for a glitch, and the machine will do it for you. However, conceptualizing a glitch that both expresses one’s vision and is at the disposal of a certain processor is not an easy task, and just like a director of a film, the artist must make sure everything is orchestrated in a precise way in order to bring their vision to life. The machine can then be seen as the film crew who makes it happen, and the errors (or the film) are a result of the many moving parts involved in bringing an idea to life.

Barker’s second section also blew my mind, as he quoted Steven Shaviro’s definition of the virtual as “’a field of energies that have not yet been expended, or a reservoir of potentialities that have not yet been tapped’” (50).  This caused me to visualize all of the potential errors that could possibly occur not only in art but in every aspect of life and the actions we make, especially in this digital age when so much of our being exists in a virtual landscape. I was especially interested in Manovich’s cultural communications model, and how our post-digital cultural communication can be interpreted as “SENDER-SOFTWARE-MESSAGE-SOFTWARE-RECEIVER” (48). We usually do not think of software as part of our human culture, but this model emphasizes the cultural significance of all of the software that mediates our human experiences and interactions with one another. We rely so much on this software, that errors have a big impact on the flow of our social and personal lives. Glitch art points out the power that this software has by bringing it to our attention and shaking up the seamless digital communication channels that we depend on so heavily. It utilizes the virtual by providing an alternative to both error-free software and the infinite amount of other glitches that could occur either independently or simultaneously. Overall, each interaction between human and machine can result in an array of different outcomes, and neither facilitator has full control.

Blog 1 – Glitch and Error!

Mark Nunes argues that error in a digital global network world provides a critical lens for understanding this technological landscape, something so technical, error is a deviation without purpose, an opportunity for artistic potential in a system focused on maximizing performance, efficiency, accuracy. To have this consistency, we need control in order to continue to achieve a predetermined outcome. Nunes mentions Deleuze discussion of error as a deviation that “does not coordinate with orthodox image of thought as a recognition of truth.”If so, is error the “counterculture” against the status quo? Nunes argues that although global networks is democratizing, it is only so to those who possess the privilege to do so (dependent on the extension of cables), which would result in more alienation between developed and developing nations. What is fascinating is that error can be taken advantage of, serving some sort of purpose, be it political, social, etc, and how quickly the networks go to “fix” this error, or leave it in. Some examples I can think of is using an extension to allow users to access Netflix library of different countries. Netflix recently corrected this issue. In a sense, copyrighted media is still legally restricted regionally. Another example is of a video game, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, in which there is a glitch which allowed horses to climb steep mountains. Bethesda, the game developer, took notice of this glitch but chose to let it be. Error also allows for a convergence culture, of consumers engaging directly with media, via exploiting any loophole to produce a unpredictable response. This may involve highjacking airwaves, hacking into websites, revealing data. This would result in the further regulation of the internet, as error becomes more of a nuisance, endangering the democracy of media.

 

Zizek criticizes modern education as being commercialized and as a tool used by capitalist societies to “fix problems”, to further perpetuate their ideology. they call “Private use of reason”. Using education to further one’s own position, a “confirmation bias”. Education is not about “how to fix” but has layers to it, trying to approach a concept from a more theoretical and transnational perspective. Most important thing for education is the ability to “build bridges” between the spectator and the reality of the situation, which will allow an understanding that is beyond surface level.

 

Menkmen- Technology is rapidly advancing towards perfection, and those who can’t (financially) keep up become obsolete, disconnected from the world. This is an interesting idea applying to both technology and even people. Older generations are very disconnected from the millenials due to their general inability to participate in global networking, stores that opt for phone numbers and fliers over emails and websites will simply not be able to keep up. This is not the main point of Menkmen’s manifesto, but this is what came up in my head. Anyways, With control, there must be chaos. This chaos is noise, defined by Menkmen as a term with a negative connotation, an unwanted disturbance, with a positive connotation to redefine the opposite. This glitch as a break from a flow of expectation provides opportunity for alternative mode of creative representation, a nonconforming countercultural approach to media. This provides an opportunity for metaphorical expression. As one medium advances, it becomes domesticated, straying far from its intended meaning, a criticism I hear often about modern art today. Once a postmodern critique and a deconstruction of the elitism of “high art”, it has become what once demonized.