3 minute(s) de lecture

In the age of perfectly photoshopped, smooth, and flawless images, the glitch art trend reminds us that error is beautiful. Long live image corruption!

Glitch art: bug is beautiful

We’ve all encountered an unreadable image on our TV screen at some point. That was our first encounter with a glitch. A glitch is a bug in the reading of a file, causing visual aberrations… or aesthetic accidents.

It is from this observation that “glitch art” was born: a process of altering the data of an image (or video) file to generate visual curiosities.

The VCR head brings up magnetic noise on the image.

Glitch: the last art movement?

Glitch art is an artistic movement comparable to Jackson Pollock’s action painting. What do splattering a canvas and making a .jpg file bug have in common? The importance of the creative “act”: the interest of the work lies in the creation process rather than the final result.

The ways to glitch are endless and depend as much on the hardware (computer, TV, etc.) as the software used. For example, you can open a .jpg file with software not designed for image reading. Some even manage to produce synesthetic works using software intended for audio processing.

styled-image © Masuma Ahuja & Denise Lu for the Washington Post, 2014

Glitch art was born and grew with digital technology. It evolves within or alongside generative art: the creation of random or algorithm-driven works. As an aesthetic concept, glitch art experienced a true boom in the early 2000s. So much so that the Tate Modern recently dedicated an exhibition to the best glitch art, open to public participation.

Glitch art is the latest art movement, worthy of web 2.0 practices: collaborative and open source. Glitch art is fueled by an active community on social networks. The most geeky glitch artists go so far as to code their own glitching interface and share it for free, allowing others to adopt and enhance it.

Glitch art, subversiveness, and serendipity

Glitch art involves destroying an image to create a new one. This contradiction makes sense: in an age of ultimate image control through software like Photoshop, integrating a bug is a way to remind us that the image is not real, and that beauty also lies in imperfection.

In this sense, glitch art can be seen as a form of protest, asserting that error has aesthetic value. Since error is human, integrating an error into a virtual image is, in the end, humanizing it.

With glitch, the image is fragmented, chaotic, blurred. Glitch frees shapes, lines, and colors. It evokes works of abstract, cubist, or futuristic painting. Above all, glitch reveals within the image a new, unexpected, and serendipitous image. Therefore, glitch art is an art of serendipity. Through the visual discoveries it provokes, it overturns our perception of an image and stimulates our imagination.

Here, does the glitch reveal an aura? The inevitable disappearance of the body? The failure of memory?

styled-image © Mathieu St-Pierre, self-portrait, 2013

And here, the glitch literally recalls the melting of ice.

styled-image © Giacomo Carmagnola, All ice on me, 2014

Glitch art finally questions our relationship with images and their virtual dimension. In an era of omnipresent media and the constant dissemination of images and information that are as immediate as they are ephemeral, what is the value and reality of images?

When glitch escapes the screens

Now, glitches also materialize in the real world. They can be found in painting, or as patterns applied to rugs. Glitch even escapes flat surfaces to exist in sculpture or 3D printing. The latest feat of glitch art? Glitch applied to architecture! Even the music of some major electronic scene artists, such as Max Cooper, has been described as “glitchy”…

So, what are you waiting for to Glitch?