Reading: Glitch

Olga Goriunova is a new media researcher, teacher, and organizer. She is a co- creator of the Readme software art festival series, and a co- organizer of software art repository ( /).
Alexei Shulgin is an artist, theorist, musician, curator, and photographer. For more
information see http: // /

PDF Glitch by Olga Goriunova and Alexei Shulgin – from Software Studies

In this chapter from Software Studies the author present the concept of glitch. Glitches as visual motifs are getting increasingly more common in pop culture, games and music but artists have been exploring glitch aesthetics for at least two decades.

Besides Skrillex and the occasional glitched image, can you find artworks that incorporates glitches and explores the aesthetic of error?

Glitch festival is an easy starting point


In video art: Monster Movie by Takeshi Murata

In Jodi

In video games: ROM CHECK FAIL by Farbs

In electronic music: Alva Noto

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  1. jamieearnest

    Jamie Earnest
    Glitch Reading: Response

    There is an interesting interaction between errors and failure in art making. Errors and glitches are frequently productive in the process of art making. Obviously, the first example of an art piece that comes to mind when ‘error and failure’ are factors is Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even”. (,_Even)
    During the shipment of the work, the piece was dropped (it was painted on glass) and the glass cracked, creating now a panel of cracked glass with the painting still on it. Duchamp, I believe, later stated that this was exactly what the piece needed to be finished. The accidental shattering of the glass finished the piece; the error finished the piece.
    Now, taking an example from a more modern and technological standpoint, I will use the work of the video artist, Anton Marini. ( In Marini’s work, he purposefully writes his own software to include glitches. The glitches that are generated work in conjunction with his aesthetic and his practice of art making. When looking at his work and watching some of his videos, one can see that visually, the glitches work beautifully. They create physical divisions and moments of disorientation that would not otherwise be seen in his videos.
    Error and glitches are a beneficial and cherished attribute for art making.

  2. lisapark

    Goriunova and Shulgin in their passage ‘Glitch’, they specify a glitch occuring in electronics as being a completely ‘unpredictable change in the system’s behaviour, when something obviously goes wrong’. This is to say a glitch is unintentional. Interesting accidents/errors have been pushed forward as art many times. Intentional or deliberate mistakes, a term Marcel Duchamp coined as ‘canned chance’, I think is quite different from what Goriunova and Shulgin describe as a ‘glitch’.
    One event in which a glitch was memorable to an artist, was the accidental discovery of the photography technique of solorization. Artist Man Ray accidentally discovered and then perfected this technique. His assistant Lee Miller carelessly switched on a light in the dark room, giving the photographs a strange filter. I think glitches and errors are a useful flash of inspiration and change in art.

  3. emilymiller

    i enjoyed reading this chapter because it allowed me to compare digital art (which is less familiar to me) to other art forms i have experience in, such as collage and painting. this is because when one creates 2D works, happy accidents are bound to occur and these often lead to improvements and new ways of approaching the art. in electronic media art, these mistakes are “glitches.” an easy comparison.
    i found the works by this argentinian based artist to be compelling: specifically, the image with the dollar bill is beautiful. ( the artist uses a scanner to manipulate the way the dollar bill looks. the shape and color are altered in the process, and the result is really beautiful. scanners are a way to visually add a glitch to an image that we expect to appear a certain way.
    i’m not sure if this counts, but i feel as those marcel duchamp’s “nude descending down a staircase” is predated version of what glitch art tries to be.
    although electronic manipulation wasn’t used for this painting (duh), the repetitive qualities and composition feel “glitchy.”

  4. nivethakannan

    The article itself was pretty interesting. I’ve always been interested in glitches in programming and have long since known about the sub culture of gaming which likes to exploit glitches in the games’ programming or introduce their own. However, I’ve never thought of these glitches as a form of art or how they could be incorporated into artwork. Moreover, I had no Idea this idea of glitch art was so popular!
    However, after running a brief google search of this genre I am disappointed to see that almost all “glitch art” seems to look relatively the same. The glitches here are just simple tweaks which wind up distorting a video’s images. However, most these distortions are, by now, predictable and are all practically the same. I do love video’s with distortion- but only for a purpose. Naomi Uman’s video “Removed,” for example, Naomi removed the female figure from each frame with eccentric but beautiful white splotches. I’m not too sure if this could be considered glitch art but it is, in my opinion, a possibility glitch art could begin to explore.

    Naomi Uman’s “Removed” :

  5. cindyxu

    I really liked the article’s interpretation on the glitch and its significance in art – In particular, it gives a human element to the machine by showing that it is also capable of failure. At the same time, as a sort of portal to the underlying structure of the machine, it is strange and otherworldly.
    While playing ROM CHECK FAIL, I was reminded of Alphaland by Jonas Kryratzes. The player, while playtesting a friend’s game, inadvertently falls through the floor into the world of “Alphaland”, which, as the name suggests, seems to be some sort of simple testing stage for the game. As the player progresses throughout the game, however, Alphaland becomes a human-like entity which is increasingly cognizant of its own existence. At the same time, it itself is transforming; more gameplay rules are introduced, blocks are replaced with sprites, etc. It confesses to the player its fears that it will be displaced, but at the end of the game it accepts its transformation into what could be assumed to a finished game. It is an interesting exploration into the “human element” of games in development.

  6. jingxiao

    I thought Shulgin and Goriunova presented a very interesting perspective on glitches by treating them as these glimpses into the inner workings of the software and code behind the polished front. Whenever we screw up on some programming project, my friends and I always joke, “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.” But I do actually think that in the right situation, this statement is certainly appropriate. Art isn’t always the outcome of a thoroughly premeditated concept; it occurs as the result of accidents, stray thoughts, experimentation. Computer art, however, is difficult to create without that prior planning, if only because programming requires implementing a previously defined specification and algorithm. I think glitches offer to new media art what accidents offer to traditional art.
    As for an example of glitch art… of course there is the blatant kind (e.g. MIA’s album covers but I think true glitches may not be so easily apparent to the viewer. I perceive most glitches as things that happen during the creative process, that in turn generate a product that has veered from the artist’s intended vision, not necessarily some obvious pixelated, jarringly colored piece. It’s hard to pinpoint glitch art as I have defined it… I certainly have my own “glitch art” by this definition.

  7. rachelpark

    The article was interesting in a way that it pointed out the significance of glitz and unexpected happy mistakes. Unintended mistakes in art are usually what artists try to avoid, especially in art based on traditional medium – there is a possibility that one wrong brush stroke can ruin the whole painting, or a little bit of wrong chemical can ruin the whole film. Sometimes, however, those mistakes are what lead their art to go further. The role of glitch in new media art was interesting that it is a mistake that can be fixed, it is more like an expedient,

  8. christianmurphy

    I found the “Glitch” reading very interesting because of my previous experiences with glitches and computer malfunctions. As a kid I remember playing videogames and encountering a variety of glitches. Most of these play sessions would end in frustration and having to restart the game console, leading to lost saved progress. Growing up I watched my mom get her MFA, and how upset glitches would make her. Specifically one time she was almost done with a paper she was writing, and randomly the computer froze up with a glitched screen. This error resulted in the complete and utter loss of her paper and several other files on he computer. My mom never swore but that night she got so mad she started crying, threw the mouse, and even cursed. Since then I have always thought of glitches as the enemy of forward moving technology. However this reading made me rethink that. Seeing glitches as human error in a world of robotic precision makes me happy. It’s as if we still have a fighting chance against the machines that run our lives.

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