For those potential gamers who just saw the below gif, please do not get excited. This post is not about game glitches, this gif is just a mere tribute to the mysterious happenings of glitches across all digital platforms and the shared happiness we may all experience when we come across them .
Don’t get me wrong, I can relate to how special y’all feel when you come across a glitch, knowing that the machine is struggling and is doing something completely unintentional.
However, I also experience this same feeling of delight from an art standpoint, regardless of whether the glitch was intentional or not.
GIFS aside: now for the semi-boring, semi-informative part.
In the beginning (pre-industrial era), art was made predominantly through craftsmanship i.e. by hand. The rise of digital technologies in the industrial era changed this, ultimately creating a divide and separating old practices from new innovative ones.
However, the post-industrial age has reverted the confinement of digital art to solely digital practices and craft art to solely craft practices.
A glitch can be described as an unintended digital malfunction that holds a certain aesthetic quality. This aesthetic has expanded the status of the glitch into forms such as glitch art. It is interesting because glitch art is so unpredictable and therefore “subverts our expectations” (PBS Idea Channel 2013), particularly with regard to art and what can be considered art.
So profound has its impact been that it has unintentionally inspired new forms of media. This can be seen in the following crafted artworks:
Here we see examples of two artists who work with craft practices and have successfully implemented the glitch aesthetics into their work. CRAZY ROIGHT!?!
Not only have digital elements inspired craft practice, as seen with the glitch, but so too has craft inspired digital art.
Tord Boontje works with digital technologies such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) hardware to effectively cross “…the boundaries of craft, design and industrial production” (Brunnel 2004, p.16). This practice becomes evident in his installation Wednesday which reveals his involvement “with digital production processes to create complex design pieces with a ‘craft’ aesthetic” (Brunnel, p.16).
This is a poignant example of Marshall McLuhan’s dictum The Medium is the Message. Here we see how the medium of the internet has shifted the way we see art due to the myriad of aesthetics introduced via digital technologies. The meaning of art and art practice has changed as a result of its shifting and expanding environment, real and digital.
Despite this beautiful relationship between craft and digital, there is an idea that craftsmanship is outdated and may cease to exist as the production of risk involved with it outweighs the production of certainty . But, in art, who really has time to care about certainty 24/7?! Like the glitch, sometimes imperfections are perfections!
On that note, I will leave the following shit meme (an artwork with digital characteristics, turned glitch, turned meme talking about the longevity of craftsmanship in a post-industrial world) as an attempt to inspire those of you who made it this far to think about the above statement for about three seconds and then move on with your life:
Bunnell, K (2004), ‘Craft and digital technology’, viewed 21/3/17, <http://www.autonomatic.org.uk/archive/team/kb/craft%20and%20digital%20technology.pdf>.
PBS Idea Channel 2013, How Does Glitchy Art Show Us Broken Is Beautiful? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios, online video, 24 July, viewed 22nd March 2017, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MCmBHPqz6I>.
Top15s 2015, Top 15 SCARIEST Video Game Glitches, online video, 14 August, viewed 24 March 2017 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5m0WVhYMX4&t=194s>.