If you’ve ever walked through Times Square, you might have noticed a few defective LED billboards, distracting you from the rest of the Square’s flashy perfection with their flickering inconsistency. Or perhaps you’ve downloaded a video file from the Internet, only to find the content to be pixelated and choppy, and therefore disappointing. Whatever experience you’ve had with technological glitches, it was probably somewhat unsettling. We’ve been raised in a world in which technology is the closest thing we have to perfection, and it makes us anxious when technology exhibits obvious flaws. However, there are people out there, specifically artists, who find technological defects beautiful and inspiring. Through this rare reverence for technology’s fallibility, glitch art was born.
In the PBS video “The Art of Glitch,” featured below, glitch artist Scott Fitzgerald highlights several ways to create glitch art. Glitches can arise unintentionally, and they can also be fabricated. For example, a glitch artist can save a glitch-free image as a text file, open the file, delete some of the script, convert it back to an image file, and see what happens. While such a process can be random, glitch art is more rewarding and interesting when the artist is familiar with the technology he is manipulating. The glitch artists in this video have honed their tech skills in order to optimally convey the artistic potential in imperfect technology, and the results are strikingly cool.