Sunday, December 4, 2016

How to capture a glitch in the wild and then tame it

How to get an 100% authentic glitch photo:

1. Get a cocky computer support guy to hack into your computer when you're out of your office and destroy all of your files.

2. Have IT try to retrieve the files and fail miserably.

3. Send the drive to a file recovery service and have them retrieve only non indexed and corrupt files.

ta-dah! That's how, back in 2009, I ended up with a lot of corrupt files. Once I got over the disaster, I started to see the beauty of the glitch, which is basically the valiant attempt of the file format to do its job even amid failure (if file formats wrote Shakespearian tragedies, they would be filled with the brilliant gore of rainbow hued breakdown).

The purist glitch is like a found object. You just take it from the wild like Duchamp stealing a urinal and calling it art. I love the pure, dada corruption of a found glitch, like this:

That's pure, unadulterated glitch.

Then, if you're not too much of a purist, you can intervene to varying degrees. Like the following, where the only thing I changed was to put it in black and white (while leaving the snowy noise with its natural flecks of color):

Here's another almost-natural glitched image of an old typewriter ad. The only thing I changed was a slight change in the tint of the bands of color (there was more of a lilac in the original, but I didn't like it):

Getting a glitch in the wild is like getting that "decisive moment" in street photography, but with more serendipity (cloaked in disaster).

But there's no reason not to make something out of that corrupt file. So, sometimes I'll add in another photo, usually in black and white. I'll play around with blending modes ("multiply" is always a good place to start) and then start messing with curves, masks, and such. The photo at the top of this post is a combo of two photos that in Photoshop layers looks like this:

The combo creates little moments such as the parallel between the watchful dad (top left) looking at the kid and the heroic god slaying the snake. dark, i know. Then, there are the parallel arms of the statue and the other kid whose small arm is just below the statue's. Can you spot the Yankee's logo hovering in the white netherworld of that vertical line piercing the left third of the photo? 

Working with glitch is nothing new. In fact, I've cycled back around to it out of nostalgia. After glitch art went from underground to mainstream I think it's settled down more into the zone where it has less baggage and can be played with without being caught up in pure trendiness. 

Until I exhaust and tame all of my naturally corrupted files, I will keep adding new glitch (and noise) art to my online gallery for sale. I'm all about unpretentious pricing (I'll explain why in a future post), so feel free to buy something to add epic digital tragedy to your walls (glitch art looks especially good printed on metal).


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