GLI.TC/H 20111 in Chicago

On November 3-6 this year, I had a chance to attend the GLI.TC/H 20111 festival in Chicago, which also had installments in Amsterdam NL on Nov 11-12, and Birmingham UK, Nov 19. This was year #2 for the gathering, and judging from its success, there are many more to come.

Here is a short trailer video from the event:

The festival is about gathering minds and bodies who make art and develop ideas inspired by glitch, error and noise. The workshops, realtime performances, lectures, panels and exhibition serve to expose the attendee to existing practices, discourse and new perspectives developing within the Glitch Art genre. Entrance is free, and there is also an online component to the event which can be accessed long after the physical gathering has dispersed.

This year’s festival was made possible through organizational efforts of Glitch veterans (can I call you that?) such as Rosa Menkman, Nick Briz, Jon SatromEvan Meany, Jon Cates, and Theodore Darst, and by the highly successful Kickstarter campaign which raised nearly double the amount of the initial goal.

The variety of work showed throughout the festival proved that Glitch does not have to be bound by the digital space, but can spawn – or be translated – inside the more tangible materials of paper, plastic, cloth and even wood. I suppose the power of this genre, community, way of thinking is how broad the application of the Glitch can be both in a personal sense and a greater perspective.

I must say, I was a huge fan of the visuals that I experienced at this event, however, the auditory stimuli were a bit harder to absorb for someone who has not been as immersed in the noise culture as the rest of the attendees.

I got a hold of two great books at or through the event – a collection of essays under the name Glitch Readerror and Rosa Menkman’s The Glitch Momentum – which I am still to read over the holidays.

Curt Cloninger. Photo by Bram Timmer.

Interviewing Rosa. Photo by Bram Timmer.

My essay submission prompted an invitation from the organizers for me to be a part of the “Scanning teh Politix in/of Glitch” panel to share my very personal perspectives on the more aggressive characteristics of the Glitch for breaking consumerist imagery from a female / feminist viewpiont. My slides and notes are posted here. Other panelists were Nick Briz and Paul Hertz. My co-panelists had some insightful thoughts and observations to share, and I’m still trying to locate their slides online, hoping they’ll be posting them eventually if they’re not already up. All i could find was this article in ArtSlant Chicago which summarizes the presentations in the context of the festival.

Here is trailer #2 with some comments from the organizers:

Setting up the panel. Photo by Bram Timmer.
Nick Briz. Photo by Bram Timmer.
Paul Hertz. Photo by Bram Timmer.
MBLabs. Photo by Bram Timmer.
Ustream. Photo by Bram Timmer.

I came to the festival from a perspective of someone who is straddling the border between conventional / mainstream art practices and Glitch Art, trying to find my way in the labyrinth of the seemingly countercultural avant-garde that eludes definite categorization because it contains so many perspectives on what the message of the Glitch should and shouldn’t be. It is mainly an open community that welcomes anyone interested in digital corruption as an outcome, process, political act, or a purely aesthetic exploration of digital destruction of the medium.

So why does ‘a breaking’ of media take place, and why is the trash of our pixel saturated visual existence being elevated to high art? Perhaps we crave to break free, as unpredictability, loss of control over the final outcome, digital decay, disruption in communication and entrancing hypnotic power of a system hiccup are essentially oppositional to what we have been conditioned to expect from our media and mainstream visual culture. Perhaps the Hero-of-a-Glitch promotes a feeling of freedom when, just for a second, it allows us to gain the perspective of someone from the outside looking in at the grand scheme of the system, while its specific workings are shrouded in mystery (or layers and layers of code abstraction).

But what happens when the Glitch experience becomes something expected within our immediate visual culture? Surely the surprise must be gone, and what remains is an approximation of the original moment.

The awakening lies at the precise moment of a real / natural Glitch experience, when the system is NOT being reinforced by the structures of production, storage and consumption of digital matter, tattooed into our psyches. This is a breaking point not only for the system itself but also for the user whose shattered expectations can now be glued together in a different arrangement. But can this point of awakening be artificially reproduced, multiplied, or immortalized in a static / moving image, since the continued exposure to the Glitch and its appropriation normalizes the event to the point when it becomes common occurrence for a community that exploits its expressive potential?

The original Glitch Awakening then gets lost behind a conscious stimulation / simulation of a Glitch, done for the sake of creating an ‘other’ experience that initializes its own system of production / consumption. But not all of us find this to be a reason for mourning.

Glitch is an agent of transition, transformation, change, transcendence through deliberate transgression of rules and laws and yet greater in its final result than the sum of its parts. The deliberately oppositional disorder of a corrupted medium has many things to say. Perhaps its appropriation and normalization within a close knit community changes the Glitch event into an agent of mutation that while it does its work, slowly loses its original identity in order to lead us somewhere else.

The break with tradition in art history often signified a reframing of visuality, when a single event or a set of circumstances allowed people to look at the fabric of their visual environments through a different set of spectacles. Perhaps there is something happening now, that is making us see the world through a screen of a broken 8-bit Mario game, just like the Futurists or the Dadaists saw through their fractured dynamic picture planes and appropriated objects and noise (respectively). Maybe its because we are more sensitive to politics, aesthetics, technology, media, consumerism, environmental issues, local cemetery or the neighbour’s cat? What brings the Glitch into the spotlight for you?

I personally believe that Glitch Art – just like the real accident it is inspired by – is not the destination but a point of transgression and transition to something that is yet to be determined in our postmodern visual language. Perhaps the movement will become extinct, or change and morph into something that will live on, or it will continue in its current state…But in the meantime lets celebrate its here.

More articles about GLI.TC/H can be found at the following links

Cool Hunting

The Creators Project

Find more GLI.TC/H photos here:

Rosa Menkman Flickr

Paul Hertz Flickr

Birmingham GLI.TC/H Flickr

While in Chicago, I couldn’t sit still. Bram and I roamed around the city, riding somewhat sketchy trains, eating fine Chicago food, and finding other interesting things along the way such as an old Polish Church with a beautiful, detailed, inside (something you don’t find in the prairies). Here are some shots:

The Cloud Gate. Photo by Bram Timmer.

See Bram’s Chicago shots on his Flickr page.

Thanks for reading!

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