Born in Error

Curator's Note

Glitch. Glitch. Glitch. Glitchy glitch glitchety glitched a glitch. Pardon me. I wanted to see if I could Gertrude Stein the word into or out of meaningful existence.

Let us begin with a few terms, in the unfortunate case that you stumbled upon this piece at the beginning of your discoveries about glitch art. I sincerely hope this is not the case, as there is an enormous body of work out there and I am, as usual, somewhat late to the party. If we agree that a "glitch" is a malfunction in a system, then I assert that "glitch art" takes those errors and uses them as moments of aesthetic revelation.

Like many art forms, glitch invites a maelstrom of pathological taxidermy (see also "is this a game," "is this avant-garde or underground," "is this cinema," and "is this art?"). Several pigeonholes are in play in this area. Stucturalist purism: it's only glitch if the error is inadvertent, otherwise it's databending. Formalist purism: it's only glitch if you directly manipulate file data, otherwise it's datamoshing. Please do not mistake my words as making fun of art theory or movements. I take issue only with those who make the world smaller.

My film Interruptus (2011, 4 minutes) was born in error. I was downloading one of my own video files off the web, and was forced to quit the download. Some digital video formats allow you to view whatever part of the download you managed to get before stopping, so I checked it. The artifact that I had partially downloaded looked a lot like the exploding color that you see in this film.

Much of the time, I am basically a twelve-year-old. I immediately saw this event in comedic sexual terms, and began experimenting with interrupting downloads of explicit adult videos, to see what kinds of visual pleasure could be created by denying such gratification. The visuals here are the results of many experiments, edited together. To my mind, the only possible soundtrack that could accompany this is the 1924 recording of Clara Smith singing "Don't Advertise Your Man," which I altered by manipulating the spectrogram of the song in Photoshop.


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