When something goes wrong, don’t start over — make art!
Let’s think about the future in science fiction. There are many futures which are perfect, even utopian — glowing with bright lights, crisp clothing, full of flawless technology which elevates human lives — such as Star Trek. A handful of science fiction futures take the opposite approach — futures like the one in Firefly that are dirty and full of things that break.
Now think about our own lives. Startling innovations have occurred thanks to technology, changing how we communicate, travel, play and work. Yet which future is more familiar? Expensive software and hardware routinely launches full of bugs and errors. Things break all the time.
Glitches are frustrating — yet also create the potential for the creation of art and experimental music in the interstitial spaces at the edge of what works. Four panelists at SXSW Saturday explored the “Year of the GLI.TC/H.”
Artist Jon Satrom said we expect computers to fail. He commented on how the Internet is full of photos of irritated computer users biting their PCs! Yet glitches do more than slow us down. They reveal what software and hardware are hiding behind their “closed doors and walled gardens.” Even as he demonstrated a slide show made from glitching Mac OS, the computer crashed in new and innovative ways. Glitch is unpredictable.
“The glitch is a moment in time that has the potential to snap us from a particular context and can reveal the systems at play,” Jon Satrom told us. Next time a glitch occurs, try integrating it into your process rather than throwing out the work you’ve done. What, Satrom seemed to ask, can glitches teach us about our own creative work?
Glitch artists have come together for the last two years at the gli.tc/h conference. Creating this conference presented unique challenges: “It’s interesting to build a structure for a community that celebrates chaos and failure.” Organizers introduced deliberate glitches into many aspects of the conference experience, forcing participants to adapt on the fly and interact in new ways.
Other speakers at the panel included Jon Cates, Chair & Associate Professor of Film, Video, New Media & Animation at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Artist and Theorist Patrick Lichty. As Cates spoke, a soundtrack of experimental music hummed behind him. Gradually, his own voice speaking became a part of the sounds, echoing with his own words. The layered sounds forced us to interact with his words first a speech, then as an artistic soundscape.
Lichty spoke about how 3D Printing allows us to glitch real world objects, printing them in ways that cause cognitive dissonance or using augmented reality to change our interactions with the mundane.
While I’m a fan of the experimental, I’ll be the first to admit that “noise” music and other glitch arts are not to everyone’s taste. Yet we can all learn how to be more flexible and open to possibilities from the process of its creation.
All photos by Kit O’Connell, all rights reserved.