By Patrick Lichty
It is with great pleasure that I introduce this month’s subject of “Glitched, Cracked, and Dirty Media”, featuring a list of wonderful scholars and practitioners in the degradation of the signal/datastream as artform. There are many perspectives on this set of practices, so I will only say that my initial remarks are a loose framing on a diverse set of practices.
For the past five years, I have lived in Chicago, one of the homes of “glitch” media, which involves artful manipulations of the datastream to create artfully degraded media, which one of our participants, Caleb Kelly, has written on extensively in his book “Cracked Media”. This differentiates itself from “dirtstyle” New Media, popularized by artists like Cory Arcangel, Michael Mandiberg, and Marisa Olson (who also participates in “glitch” media), which utilizes lo-fi, often kitschy tropes, but still use uncorrupted media.
In regards to Chicago, there are pioneers in the area of degrading the video signal such as Dan Sandin and Phil Morton, who used analog video synthesizers to create groundbreaking works, and these are a specialty or one of our guests, Jon Cates. I also remember a recent talk at the Art Institute of Chicago by legendary video artist Steina Vasulka that was facilitated by Cates where she remarked upon the magic of the manipulation of the signal. It seems that, in light of the digitization of the signal through the elimination of analogue television in North America in 2009 , the signal has become the datastream, and noise has become fetishized as it has become obsolescent.
For this month, I have invited a number of different groups to remark upon the art of degraded media, all of whom I will list at the end of this introduction. I have also asked them to represent a number of different practices, which I will cover briefly.
Rosa Menkman, Jon Satrom, Theo Darst, and Nick Briz are all participants of the GLI.TC/H conference, which expanded this year from Chicago to include Amsterdam and Birmingham, UK. This annual gathering celebrates glitching, noise, circuit bending, and injection of noise into the data stream by any means. Rosa Menkman is internationally renowned for her glitch video work with a recent solo show at Fabio Paris Gallery, Brescia, Italy, and Jon Satrom’s I <3 Presets and “Dinos and Rainbows” performances have been performed widely.
Caleb Kelly, Marisa Olson, and Curt Cloninger are all long-standing names in the area of New Media, wigh Kelly’s “Cracked Media” from MIT Press being a definitive text on the genre of degraded media. Marisa Olson a scion of the New media community, having organized events for the Guggenheim, Getty, written for WIRED, Flash Art, and far more, and has explored analogue and digital signal manipulation as an artist-in-residence at the Experimental Television Center and as part of the dirtstyle blogroll Nastynets. Curt Cloninger is a longtime participant of many listservs, including Rhizome, is progenitor of lab404 and playdamage, has written extensively on New Media, and is an Assistant Professor of New Media at University of North Carolina Asheville.
Lastly, Jon Cates is another long-time figure of the New Media scene, and is an Associate Professor of Film, Video and New Media at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a graduate of the Media Art Histories program, has done extensive work on the oeuvre of Phil Morton, and was, along with Nick Briz, part of criticalartware.net, which has done extensive explorations in the genre of glitch.
I am very pleased to have this fantastic array of friends and colleagues as part of our dialogue.
While I am very eager to begin the discussion, glitch is an unruly genre, and it seems the signup portal for Empyre has appropriately glitched for the opening of this discussion. Due to this, we may have a couple days while we finish signing up our participants for the discussion. In the meantime, I offer these links for your consideration: