Glitch Art

Got an “unexpected” computer crash? I think there’s a single factyou must know before you initiate your traditional odious self-harmritual. Computer crashes are the basic ingredient of an entire mostlyunderground, but exciting and growing artistic movement named glitchart. Rather naturally, the term doesn’t designate Photoshop-distortedimages, but direct interventions on source-code – i.e., audiovisualcreations generated by random or deterministically forced programmingerrors.

Perhaps its most prominent web presence is Ant Scott, owner of the domain since july, 2000, a former case of fractalitis,for whom the 20th-century always proclaimed “aesthetics of theunintended” (e.g., remember the jarred images of cubism, theintentionally inserted imperfections of Mondrian, the established roleof noise/distortion in music/video) are now “part of a post-digitalmovement.”(1)

In his very first blog post on, Mr. Scott included alittle table of differences between glitch art and fractal art, which Ipartially reproduce below with a few minor annotated slashedinterventions/additions.

Glitch Art —> Fractal Art
artificial —> mathematical
(/general/)fun & /vacuous/ —> attracts /geeks/
purely digital (/i.e., discrete/) —>digital & /continuous/
/found/ —> usually computed
deterministic & /quasi-random/ —> chaotic
fast, /instant gratification/ —> (/usually/) slow to compute

Actually, Mr. Scott makes some crude points that could hurt my innergeek, especially as I’m a nonlinear dynamics enthusiast (although not afractalist). However, his main argument seems insuperably attractive:Glitch art is for the layman expecting instant gratification in usingart as a mostly funny, high medium of entertainment. As most often myparticular geekiness manifest itself in the instant gratificationrequirement form, glitch art strung a chord in me in a way I couldn’tignore.

Browse around, there are many instances on the web – e.g., someacademic treatments, >1,500 glitch enthusiasts on Flickr (>3,000images), a glitch “web browser”, and some glitch editors -; be a glitcher yourself, and go spread the word.

(1) Here you can fairly point out the somewhat different meanings of the not exactly interchangeable terms error, imperfection, accidental, and incompletion.


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