Beauty Or Chaos? Exploring The Unorthodox World Of Glitch Art [Stuff to Watch]

glitch artMuch like chiptune and other forms of once-underground and reclusive digital trends, glitch art has become pretty popular over the last few years. It can now be seen in everything from music videos, to fashion and even advertising.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, glitch art is the celebration, synthesis and loosely controllable manufacture of images, videos and sounds to produce erroneous “glitching” artifact that occurs when digital signals go wrong. The results can be astounding but the call over whether the results are beauty or chaos is up to you.

In this week’s Stuff to Watch, I’ve scoured the web for the best videos to help grasp and even enjoy this exclusive digital movement.

The Art of Glitch

There’s probably no better video to watch first that this introduction to the scene from the PBS “Off Book” program. This video gives you a brief overview of the many different things artists have been up to and what makes the scene attractive to them. A lack of control over the final outcome seems to add to the appeal for a lot of artists who experiment with glitch art, as you can see from the examples.

Glitch Safari

Previously mentioned in the video above, the official Glitch Safari Vimeo Group is a collection of all things glitch from the real world. This isn’t necessarily glitch art, but instead a collection of electronic signage, video signals and imperfections that help inspire users. Think of them like “happy mistakes” from a glitch artist point of view.

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Jon Satrom’s “The Vitch”

Aside from Jon Satrom’s Vimeo channel that features videos of him performing live glitch (and this Mac OS X glitch performance on YouTube) I can’t find much relating to this next video other than the YouTube description that claims it was an instrument designed in 2002 to interrupt a circuit in order to break videos and produce… well, this:

Juergen Kopmann’s “Glitch Grinder”

The result of Juergen Kopmann’s obsession for glitch, the Glitch Grinder is a DIY device designed to destroy clean signals and ramp up the distortion. You can find out more about the device in this blog post, though don’t expect to learn much as the artist concedes it’s more about trial and error.

Here’s the first test Juergen posted with his device.

In a comment on his blog, when asked if he could make a schematic so others could try and replicate his design he revealed:

“i can’t make a schematic. i have no idea what i am doing here 😉 it’s all trial&error, learned with CMOS tutorials and crappy cellphone youtube tutorials … i tried to build a simple audiosquarewave synth out of a 40106 CMOS chip. it worked, but i crushed my headphones cause of too much impedance. so i tried to solder a chinch in/out on it just for fun….and it worked”

Karl Klomp’s Obscure Hardware Innovations

Much like Juergen, above, Karl Klomp is a Netherlands-based media artist and theatre technician with a penchant for glitch hardware. Using various devices, Karl makes weird and wonderful videos and specialises in live audiovisual shows.

Here is one of Karl’s devices in this video titled “Rupter 1.3”.

And another, manipulating a live stream of himself (so meta, darling) in the equally vaguely titled “Failter 9”.

David Oreilly’s Glitch Art

Most video artists, be it editors, camera operators and producers have showreels – snappy, well-edited examples of their many talents. None that I’ve ever seen before have a “compression reel”, which is what new media artist David Oreilly has done with this video below.

If you enjoy this sort of thing you should visit his website where he’s got glitch t-shirts for sale as well as an impressive number of weird and wonderful GIFs, images and other projects he’s worked on.

Data Moshing Hits It Big

I suppose it’s only fitting to end with the two most “popular” examples of glitching, or to be more specific “datamoshing” which involves the removal of certain frame types from compressed video then merging with another file. First up is Chairlift’s “Evident Utensil” single:

And of course, who could forget Kanye West’s “Welcome to Heartbreak” which demonstrates just how far the trend has come:

If you’re interested in learning more about how to datamosh, you should check out this tutorial video below from the artist who produced the Chairlift video above:

What do you think of glitch art? Is it really art? Is it just noise to you? Or is there something oddly beautiful about our favourite electronic devices and signals going wrong? Add your thoughts in the comments, below.

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