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glitch artMuch like chiptune Making 8bit Music: An Introduction To Free Chiptune Music Trackers Making 8bit Music: An Introduction To Free Chiptune Music Trackers A few months ago I wrote an article highlighting some of the best resources on the web for finding 8bit music, all manner of MOD files and the software required for playback. Today I’m going... Read More 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 8 Of The Best Music Videos [Stuff to Watch] 8 Of The Best Music Videos [Stuff to Watch] Music never really required a visual representation beyond that of the artist performing live, but MTV changed all that upon launch in 1981. Suddenly the world needed music videos, and a new opportunity arose for... Read More , to fashion and even advertising 4 Alternative Models To Advertising That Are Working Right Now 4 Alternative Models To Advertising That Are Working Right Now Advertising shouldn't be the only way for content producers to make money. Luckily, it isn't - plenty of reputable organizations fund themselves without ads, online and off. You, the readers, had a few things to... Read More .

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.


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 The 5 Best Sources For Animated GIF Images The 5 Best Sources For Animated GIF Images I’m convinced that the animated GIF reveals something about humanity. Present your average person with a repetitive moving picture and they’ll become absolutely entranced. I’ve lost many hours of my life to dancing bears and... Read More , 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.

  1. Ritwick Saikia
    October 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Well, sometimes what doesn't turn out right just turns out right if you know what I mean. Great article.

    • Tim Brookes
      October 18, 2012 at 12:39 am

      "Happy little accidents" don't you think?

  2. Prabha Rani
    October 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    It's awesome, I shared it! Liked the videos. :)

  3. Rasmus Østergaard
    October 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    A lot of this isn't at all pretty or even "art", but it sure as hell is neat

  4. Anonymous
    October 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Oh boy! It is fantastic. People are more creative than I thought.

  5. Mac Witty
    October 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Thank you! I have seen things like this but not understand it was an art form, very interesting

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