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Nobody’s Perfect. Everybody Makes Glitches — Part 2

Investigating the Psychology of the Glitch Aesthetic and Looking at how the “Error” has Become Most Desirable... (IMHO)

Monroe Glitched, 2022, by kennedysdinasty (Instagram)


Out of Scope Note: The following topics have been left out of scope of the subject of this article: genres and sub-genres of error-based art/glitch art, the tools, methods, processes, or the philosophical, geographical, geo-political/cultural development trends, attributes and impacts of this art form. To a large extent, perspectives of the creators and artists have also been excluded from this post and will be covered in upcoming pieces.




In Part 1 we looked at some key points in history that indicate a gradual appetite development for abstraction (and eventually intentional ‘glitching’) in visual depictions of reality.


In this post we’ll round this off with a summary of how the glitch aesthetic looks like today as well as some points on why we (creators, and even more so, viewers) have psychologically come to accept it into the realms of human art.


↑↑↑↑, 2022, Dan Haywood — Animoscillator (Instagram)



Of course, much can be stated about the machines, technology, processes, practices and the people that create this form of art and the aesthetic experiences that embrace the glitch mindset, but a large part of this equation (in fact 1/3rd of it — at least — as stated before, in Part 1 of this post) is the acceptance of this aesthetic and, dare I say, its enthusiastic and ever growing viewership.


Today the glitch aesthetic is used and accepted in every form of media from hit films and ads to immersive, 3D light shows and everything in between — albeit used most often as an aesthetic that supports specific thematic and narrative aspects of the work in question (especially in the applied arts).


In my own experience, we’d all seen the abundant use of glitchy abstractions in MTV music videos of the 80s and 90s. But the first time I saw it being used in the theater — and to mesmerizing effect — was in the 2002 horror movie — and one of my absolute favorites — the Ring (English remake), which itself was modelled fairly closely after the original Japanese version from 1998, Ringu. Image source: iMBD

With the emergence of technology — audio, visual and other, the equipment and the technical processes used to “tune” machines and the eventual glitches and malfunctions that are encountered are today being absorbed, embedded and included into an ever-popular error-based aesthetic that conceptually extends to more than just the visual arts.


And with the development and demise of systems and machines in the future, it stands to reasons that this trend will continue, perhaps, indefinitely.



2022, Anastasia Zhilina — knife_kit (Instagram)



THE URGE TO SEE


A big part of the Glitch aesthetic is its ability to create tension, imbalance and pause, and often subvert expectations.


For a viewer, this can cause variations in the sensory process and consequent neurophysiological changes that can, in countless ways, be extremely exhilarating for many.


Psychologically, we — human beings — have a need to complete the, perceived, incomplete.


There is a very definite sense of tension and resolution we feel when we encounter experiences, visuals, images, even music, sounds, conversations and people.


This comes from, one could guess, our common and deep-rooted survival instincts that push us to intellectually and neuropsychologically, consciously and unconsciously, search, remember, anticipate, and seek out certainty.


An example of Glitch Art, 2011, Rosa Menkman


The glitch aesthetic visually, sonically and conceptually provides an immense range of avenues to bring about this ability to play with tension and resolution.


And it does so in, often, immensely provocative and rewarding ways — especially for those who experience momentary or permanent predispositions to variety, uncertainty, disorder, adventure and other (in our case — aesthetic) situations that trigger or facilitate the learned triggering of dopamine in the body of the individual.



Stills from video clip, Eat it Up, 2022, Dan Haywood — Animoscillator (Instagram)



The glitch aesthetic visually, sonically and conceptually provides an immense range of avenues to bring about this ability to play with tension and resolution.





BEAUTY IN DESTRUCTION — ORDER IN DISORDER


At its most fundamental level Visual Beauty is our shared ability to visually recognize (or imagine) patterns, symmetry, geometry — but really — just math.


This, in turn, is intrinsically linked to another ability of ours viz. the ability to feel and attach or trigger various trained emotions, thoughts as well as the deep-rooted instinctual and bio-chemical tendencies to what we recognize (trained being the operative word here that really separates differences in perception of individuals).



Distressed furniture for $2000 USD: Bad or beautiful?? Who’s to really say? Source: Rush market distressed furniture (I/we have zero affiliation with rush market or the seller of this fine creation and this is NOT a paid mention)


And, again, visually, it all comes down to being able to perceive these patterns (and their related attributes of color, line, form etc. etc. which we will not get into right now) as well as their creation, transformation and destruction.


In this sense, pattern recognition also encompasses the ability to perceive — visually and conceptually, cycles in change of those patterns and consequent trends, revolutions and evolutions.


For example: this is one reason why one could see life as beautiful (at a given instance) while another see death (the "opposite" of life) as beautiful as well.


The same goes with perceptions of order and disorder, construction and destruction etc. etc. etc.


Glitch a Cat, 2022, by kennedysdinasty (instagram)


Without going into too much technical detail on the whys and hows of these complex psychological, and even socio-psychological, processes and other discussions of ethics and what’s good, bad, what should or could etc, when seen from the above (drab and clinical) perspective, there are really a limitless number of possibilities to what can be perceived as ‘beautiful’ or pleasurable and what “cannot”.


And really, isn’t that the human experience?


And more so, isn’t that the beauty of the human experience?


And in our day and age, there is no better demonstration of this being true than the acceptance of the error-based aesthetic — in digital, analog and other forms in the visual arts (as well as other aspects of society and life, but we’ll try to avoid scope creep again, and stop right there).



Music video projection on wall in Wrocław, Poland, 2021, by Ksawery Komputery (Instagram)



Pushing the boundaries of the genre: Stills from Symphony in Acid, 2022, by Max Cooper with animation and code in JAVA and HTML by Ksawery Komputery (Instagram). Check it out at symphonyinacid.net.




At its most fundamental level Visual Beauty is our shared ability to visually recognize (or imagine) patterns, symmetry, geometry — but really — just math.





In Conclusion


So, what does the future hold for Glitch and error-based art and forms of expression? Well, who can really say?


Actually, I can.


If human psychology, in both individual and collectivistic contexts, is any indicator, the dance between the early adopter artist and the laggard, media consuming majority, will continue indefinitely.


Every new technology that emerges brings with it its own inherent characteristic set of malfunctions (or intended-sub-optimal-performance-output, if you’d like to get pseudo-technical about it) that someone, somewhere, sometime will intentionally seek out in their quest to create something unique.



3d printer error or beautiful 3D Glitch Art?? Image Fred Kahl / Flickr



Yet, it is the psychology of the viewer and the cyclical phases of rejection and acceptance that individuals AND collectives go through that is equally interesting and baffling at the same time.


And this really underscores the view that while we have this constant seeking of beauty and perfection — especially in our external world, we also have an innate knowledge and a sense of holding a perpetual mirror up at ourselves and recognizing that we, ourselves, are not perfect.


And whether it is out of sheer submission to that truth OR perhaps out of a vision and desire in becoming better, glitch and error-based art really reveal the magnificent beauty in us being who we are — in us being nothing but human.




Street scene, 2022, Anastasia Zhilina — knife_kit (Instagram)




And whether it is out of sheer submission to that truth OR perhaps out of a vision and desire in becoming better, glitch and error-based art really reveal the magnificent beauty in us being who we are — in us being nothing but human.





Ж








All pictures and works depicted are copyright of their respective owners






 





Credits, Footnotes and References


Cover image: Kennedysdinasty


Animoscillator - dan haywood


ksawery komputery - xavier kirklewski


knife_kit - Anastasia Zhilina


Rosa Menkman


Fred Kahl


Culturehacker:





 



Further Reading


Daniel Temkin:


Michael Betancourt:








Note: All pictures and works depicted are copyright of their respective owners


This blog post is copyright 2023 Malcolm Fernandes All Rights Reserved






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