&nbrs;Beyond Resolution

 


[ geneology of glitch affect ]
A lexicon to the render ghosts’ affect.Every file format consists of a language, or ‘dialect’, according to which it is encoded, often also refered to as a compression algorithm. When we break this organization of data, by for instance glitching or databending, a new utterance or visual expression appears, showcasing the otherwise obfuscated organizations of compression on the surface of the image. These newly emerged images are often directly dismissed as 'garbage' or 'noise artifacts’, but sometimes, the results of these noise artifacts can in fact reveal exciting, unexpected new forms of expression or ‘visual slang’. It is these modes of expression that artists have named the genre of ‘glitch art’. But, to call glitch a genre, means to suggest it is intelligible and follows certain norms or rules.

From its beginnings, glitch art used to exploit medium-reflexivity, to rhetorically question technologies ‘perfect’ use, conventions and expectations. However, paradoxically, over time glitch art has become standardized into a genre that also fulfills certain expectations (oa. to rhetorically question the medium). This reflexive approach inherent in the materiality of the glitch tends to, as Katherine Hayles would assert, re-conceptualize the glitches’ materiality into an interplay between its ‘physical characteristics and its signifying strategies’. But glitch genres perform their reflection on digital materiality not just on a technological level. To really understand a work from the genre of glitch art completely, each level of this notion of (glitch) materiality should be studied: the text as a physical artifact, its conceptual content, and the interpretive activities of artists and audiences
 

The glitch art genre thus relies heavily on the literacy of the spectator (references to media technology texts, aesthetics and machinic processes) and their knowledge of more ‘conventional’ canons of media-reflexive, modern art. Former disturbances have gained complex meaning beyond their technological value; with the help of popular culture, their effects have transformed into signifiers loaded with affect. For example, analogue noise conjures up the sense of an eerie, invisible power entering the frame (a ghost), while blocky-artifacts often refer to time travel or a data offense initiated by a hacker. Works of glitch now prompt the spectator to engage not only with themes, but also with complex subcultural and meta-cultural narratives and gestures, presenting new analytical challenges.
In
the Glitch Moment(um) (Institute of Network Cultures, 2010) I wrote that every form of glitch, either breaking a flow, or designed to look like a break from a flow, will eventually become a new fashion. As the popularization and cultivation of the glitch genre has now spread widely, I believe it is important to track the development of these processes in specific case studies and create ‘a lexicon of glitch affects’. New, fresh research within the field of noise artifacts is necessary. In an attempt to expand on A Vernacular of File Formats, I propose a lexicon that deconstructs the meanings of noise artifacts. A handbook to navigate glitch clichés as employed in popular culture.