church of glitch

Viz. Menkman : the artefact created/discovered by accidents of digital processes, or intentionally accidented digital processes – how can these machines create? Computers are only supposed to do as exactly as they are told.

Glitch points to the error, the flaws woven into material reality. Artefact as scar tissue. Computing is built on the user’s illusion, the information perceived on the screen. How it works – for most users, the digital platform is completely foreign.  In Kabbalah material reality is located in ‘the depth of evil’ in part because of the nesting boxes of illusion presented by personal story, point of view, and the layers of imperfection, brokenness, etc. that humans are confronted with in this world. The tension between the imagined perfect and the flawed ‘real’.

Glitch art operates in this space.

In glitch one finds the revelation of the imperfection of the digital, an ongoing criticism / pointing to / celebration of the underlying flaws of the platform.

How each artist harnesses the dilemmas of the medium becomes the interesting thing.


Of course people like to mimic the sexxxy-broken aesthetic. With enough determination and a cracked copy of Photoshop one can create the echoes, colorselected copy pasted pixels, the “look”. Recently there was a fistfight in an online glitch community on this point. Its only when a photoshop artist argued that “image manipulation in photoshop is the same as image manipulation in audacity” that I called the discussion dumb as a bag of hair* and found my church of glitch.

All artistic media needs boundaries of ‘what it is not’. While “painting” as a class can contain objects of ‘watercolor’ and ‘oil’, a watercolor painting is not an oil painting. “Digital art” as a class can contain objects like ‘glitched photography’ and ‘photoshop painting mimicing a glitched aesthetic’. A glitched photo is not a photoshop painting.

A glitched photo points to/critiques/exposes the flaws of the medium that supports the perceivable image. A photoshop painting unquestioningly uses the platform of digital media to create a perceivable image.


The thread has been since deleted, perhaps because the argument can go on endlessly. People take it personally, and all those feels get in the way of considering the truth in the media object.

We can only see the object of the image file through the mediating screen & other equipment of the computer. Its all sort of unreal, and becomes tweedledum and tweedledee arguing over their rattle in the forest. *Hence the ‘dumb as a bag of hair’ comment.

I said this sort of thing to the art school bros who claimed they were ‘glazing with oil paints’ when they weren’t, at my undergrad. Same with incalmo hot glass work – there’s a technical baseline, one that’s much harder to meet than opening a .jpg in word pad. Those who claimed the were making incalmo (but weren’t) were informed as such . . . but glass art and oil painting both have the history of tradition and the authority of that established tradition to make the claim. Still, the determined continued to claim they were right, telling themselves they were participating in that history.

All I got’s Rosa Menkman**.  I’m glad I’ve chosen to read some of her theory, explore the ideas around the activity. It lends additional meaning and context to what I’m doing, helps me draw that line around glitch and explain to curators why glitch as a process is important to the meaning in the work I’m making.

I don’t know why its important for people to jump on a bandwagon, when are not doing the thing. Is it that important to belong to the group? To say you are doing the thing, when you are? I suppose all the digital is a mimic, but the 50-50 split of ‘this isn’t glitch, it mimics it’ in that community was interesting to me.

The ticket to participation in this activity is computer ownership, determination, and enough ego strength to post shit online for other ppl to see.  I gotta take Alice’s tip and leave T.& T. to their rattle, my own working definition of the media I’m making and screening tucked under my arm.


** This isn’t really true, I’ve also got Jon Satrom & Jon Cates & Nik Briz and all the stuff happening with the dirty new media people here in Chicago. I read/see their stuff & think about it too. In the context of that online community, cited Menkman only, so that’s where this blog post went. I am imperfect in my church making.