GLITCH TALK, MARCH 2013
This talk is organized into the following sections:
DEFINING GLITCH ART
EXAMPLES OF GLITCHING
GLITCH HISTORIES AND PREHISTORIES
MY OWN WORK
LINKS AND FURTHER READING
DEFINING GLITCH ART
Glitch art is in many ways a decentralized, active movement that evades definition. I talk about glitch art in the way that I view it, not the way it should be universally defined (further explanations of my views can be found in the essay Kyle Evans and I wrote for the Leonardo Music Journal here. In my view, glitch art is/can be:
→An examination of the materiality of analog and digital video
→A practice of undermining interfaces and breaking through the computational instincts of consumer devices to liberate their latent audio and visual materiality
→An infliction of errors and chance operations upon and/or enabling improvisational aesthetic explorations into processes that are ordinarily mechanical and automated
→An act of interrupting, disrupting, and subverting the relationship of the user to consumer technological devices
My definitions and views of glitch art purposefully focus on critial methodology rather than specific aesthetic output or technical process.
EXAMPLES OF GLITCHING
An analog signal is any continuous signal. It differs from a digital signal, in which a continuous quantity is represented by a discrete function which can only take on one of a finite number of values.
Making devices behave erratically by sending outputs back to inputs. This includes optical feedback (feedback achieved by pointing a camera toward a monitor displaying its output) and no-input mixing feedback (feedback with no input) using an audio or video mixer patched to send its output directly to its input.
Re-wiring found electronics to generate alternative aesthetic outputs utilizing devices' existing components/reconstructing "black boxed" internal hardware of electronics to make the devices function in a new way.
Bending an image in a cathode ray tube with an electromagnet, as in the Pail/Abe Synthesizer (also known as the Wobbulator) built by Nam June Paik and Shuya Abe.
A digital signal is a physical signal that is a representation of a sequence of discrete values (a quantified discrete-time signal), for example of an arbitrary bit stream, or of a digitized (sampled and analog-to-digital converted) analog signal.
Databending exploits the universal language of digital media to interpret digital files in improper formats and then edit them in those formats, generating glitched results when interpretted properly again. This is often referred to as reinterpretation, and includes opening audio files in a text editor, video files in Photoshop, or image files in Audacity, for example.
An example of using TextEdit to glitch as still image:
USEFUL RESOURCES FOR DATABENDING
1. Databending and Glitch Art Primer via Stallio (Benjamin Berg)
2. Databending Using Audacity via Antonio Roberts
3. Glitching With a Hex Editor via Evan Meaney
I learned to datamosh using Bob Weisz AKA Datamosher's How to Datamosh youtube video tutorials.
HOW DIGITAL VIDEO COMPRESSION WORKS
Compressed digital video is made of different types of frames:
→I-frames (also known as intra-coded frames, or key frams): frames that contain all visual information of a video's image. They are coded as self-contained images without reference to any other frame, unlike P and B-frames, and are analogous to an image on a film strip or an animation frame.
→P-frames (also known as predicted frames): frames that contain information on the movement of pixels from the previous I-frame, allowing a video to be compressed with less key frames and therefore take up less space. P-frames can reference previous I-frames.
→B-frames (also known as bi-directional predicted frames) are essentially a combination of I and P-frames, and can contain both image data and motion vector displacements, or combinations of the two.
Datamoshing is enabled by deleting I-frames so that the movement of P and B-frames apply to the incorrect image and pixel data.
EXPLOITING VIDEO COMPRESSION TO DATAMOSH VIDEOS
→When you delete I-frames from a video, the visual information from the previous sequence will be displayed and moved around following the motions in subsequent P-Frames.
Copying and pasting P-Frames
Using AVIDemux, P-frames can be copied and pasted to create very glitchy visualizations of movements detached from their I-frame image (see How To Datamosh video tutorials below).
Corrupting a Video with ffmpeg to drag the playhead over P-frames using quicktime or VLC
→When processing a video in ffmpeg following the presets in the one-stop datamoshing kit, open it in quicktime or VLC before it's finished. The video will be corrupted enough to glitch in realtime by dragging the playhead back and forth.
USEFUL TOOLS FOR DATAMOSHING:
1. How to Datamosh YouTube video tutorials by Bob Weisz AKA Datamosher (at the bottom of this page)
3. GoldMosh, software created by Sam Goldstein to make datamoshing an intuitive process
4. Snapz Pro or any other screengrabbing software (datamoshed videos are unstable and need to be re-captured)
A short video made using the techniques described above:
GLITCH HISTORIES AND PREHISTORIES (a selection)
Glitch art is in many ways rooted in the neo-dada movement of the 1950s and 60s that John Cage initiated (the first true historical precedent of glitch art would probably be Marcel Duchamp). Cage was a pioneer of chance operations and indeterminacy in music, which directly relates to [circuit/data]bending and moshing for aesthetic outputs (deleting characters of an image when bent into a word file is, in most cases, a random process).
Cage was one of the first artists to modify audio instruments for experimental artistic purposes, such as his modified piano series of works.
→Nam June Paik
→Dan Sandin, Phil Morton, The Sandin Image Processor, and Distribution Religion
→Dan Sandin has taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) since the 1970s. During this time Dan Sandin created the Sandin Image Processor, an early video synthesizer.
Phil Morton taught in the video department (which founded, the first in the country of its kind) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1970s.
Morton and Sandin created released plans for the Sandin Image processor under the COPY-IT-RIGHT license in a document called Distribution Religion, anticipating open-source software and the glitch art/new media movement:
Denton, TX-based LZX Industries recently put out a Sandin Image Processor module.
→jumping ahead to the 1990s...
Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans
Started making web-based and software-based glitch artworks in the mid-1990s.
Arcangel tricked quicktime into thinking his computer's memory was a video. The memory from his computer was bent into audio and video once a day for an entire year.
→The entire month can be viewed here.
One of the pioneers of datamoshing.
Experienced the work of JODI and started making glitch work in 2005
Organized several web-based glitch communities
Wrote A Vernacular of File Formats, 2010
Was a co-organizer of the GLI.TC/H Festival.
→The Chicago School of Glitch
Artist/writer/curator/teacher/theorist, started the New Media department at SAIC and coined the term "Chicago Dirty New Media."
Runs the Phil Morton Memorial Research Archive.
Wrote/is writing a continually updated piece on glitch art and Chicago Dirty New Media: GL1TCH.US
Working with Ben Syverson, Jon Satrom developed theSatromizer, an interactive glitching iphone app that allows you to intuitively glitch still images. It's available in the app store.
They also turned the satromizer into an operating system for the iPad, the Satromizer OS:
→The GLI.TC/H Festival
A noise & new-media event/conference/symposium/festival/gathering in Chicago.
→glitChicago at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
"glitChicago presents the work of 22 artists working with glitch in a wide variety of media. All have participated in the city’s glitch art scene, though they may come from other cities and indeed other countries. The two-month long exhibition features wall installations by Melissa Barron, jonCates, A. Bill Miller, Jon Satrom, Lisa Slodki, and Paul Hertz and free-standing installations by Alfredo Salazar-Caro, Curt Cloninger, James Connolly and Kyle Evans, and Channel TWo."
My Own Work
VGA Audio/Video Synthesizer, 2011-2014
TUTORIAL: Hacking a VGA cable to bend audio into video
Cracked Ray Tube, 2010-
RGB.VGA.VOLT is an audio/video synthesizer that enables realtime exploration of the rich materiality concealed beneath the consumer interfaces of cathode ray tube computer monitors.
In my digital glitch work of the past I pushed the use p-frames liberated from the image content of of i-frames to the extreme, creating extreme pixel-bleeds juxtposed with audio to generate synaesthetic experiences.
LINKS AND FURTHER READING
Online Glitch Communities
G L I T C H
Glitch Artists Collective
The Material Glitch
Glitch Artists Collective
Selected Online Texts
"Digital Dualism And The Glitch Feminism Manifesto" by Legacy Russell
"The Glitch Moment(um)" by Rosa Menkman
"Glitch Studies Manifesto" by Rosa Menkman
"A Vernacular of File Formats" by Rosa Menkman
glitChicago Exhibition Catalog
Active Glitch Artists:
Armpitrubber (Christine Janokowicz)
Joseph Chiocchi (YOLK)
Cracked Ray Tube
Ben Gaulon (Recyclism)
Shawné Michaelain Holloway
A Bill Miller
Notendo (Jeff Donaldson)
Stallio (Benjamin Berg)
Channel Two (Jessica Westbrook and Adam Trowbridge)
Vade (Anton Marini)
"Bending a Penguin" (glitching vector files) by Antonio Roberts
"Databending and glitch art primer, part 1: the wordpad effect
"Databending and glitch art primer, part 2: sonification" by Stallio
"Databending and glitch art primer part 3: the GIF
"Databending Using Audacity" By Antonio Roberts
"Databending Using Audacity Effects" by Jamie Boulton
"Hacking a VGA cable to bend audio into video," my own tutorial on visualizing audio waveforms
HOW TO DATAMOSH, by Bob Weisz/Datamosher