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.