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YEAR OF THE GLITCH – Digital Photography by Phillip Stearns

February 9, 2012
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Phillip Stearns YEAR OF THE GLITCH 018 of 366

I’ve been growing increasingly interested in learning programming and moving deeper into the world of digital art. I think it’s important that poets think of what they do as art, and I think it is even easier to see the connections between digital artworks and digital poems. I posted once about the programming language Processing, which I intend on learning starting later this year, once I have some basic Python under my belt. Processing is a language for creating generative art and/or processing text/data into a visual form.

Year of the Glitch does not appear to be associated with any programming, but works more at the level of tweaked electronics. Digital cameras and DVD players are “prepared” by short circuiting the electronics to create glitch effects. In addition to the images he has created being visually stunning and engaging, his idea of using the glitch aesthetically appealed to me immediately. I have often exploited minor glitches in the interaction with Gnoetry 0.2 while writing poems.

There is something very wonderful about a glitch, about an unintentional event. Phillip Stearns, the artist behind Year of the Glitch, refers to John Cage’s prepared pianos once on his blog (Jan 6 post) while explaining the process of “circuit bending” that he uses to prepare his cameras. I had not thought to connect Cage’s aesthetic of non-intentionality to the use of glitches, but I see the parallels very clearly now.

Here’s my attempt at an Imaginary Machine post now. I wonder if creating a digital poetry program which was in some way designed for “tweaking” or short-circuiting at basic levels in the processing of text would result in poetry which would, in a similar way to Stearns’ project, rely upon non-intentionality for its aesthetic (poetic) effect in a way that differs from Cage’s and Jackson Mac Low’s use of chance and determined processes. It’s worth considering for a programming project. The use of programs built into hardware (I might be showing my ignorance here: this is done, right? Although it would probably be quite difficult) might better make use of actual hardware glitches and not software glitches.

Go see Stearns’ work. It seems like he’ll be working on it all year still, so there’s a lot more to come out of it.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2012 4:17 pm

    The image link you’re using is broken.

  2. eRoGK7 permalink*
    February 10, 2012 12:26 am

    Thanks for catching that. It’s fixed.

  3. February 14, 2012 5:10 am

    I wonder if creating a digital poetry program which was in some way designed for “tweaking” or short-circuiting at basic levels in the processing of text would result in poetry which would, in a similar way to Stearns’ project, rely upon non-intentionality for its aesthetic (poetic) effect in a way that differs from Cage’s and Jackson Mac Low’s use of chance and determined processes. It’s worth considering for a programming project. The use of programs built into hardware (I might be showing my ignorance here: this is done, right? Although it would probably be quite difficult) might better make use of actual hardware glitches and not software glitches.

    I think what you’re saying is: make a generator that leverages its “bugs” to generate poetry? In a sense, all generators kind of do that… there’s no such thing as a “pure” implementation of an algorithm, the developer always has to make decisions at various levels; for example, JanusNode, Infinite Monkeys, and jGnoetry are each n-gram generators, but they’re very different from each other.

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