More Media-Based Confusion

Monday, February 3rd, 2014 by contromal

After last week’s presentation about Glitch Art, I decided that I would try my hand at converting .jpg files to .txt files, intentionally corrupting them, and again converting them to picture files. I, again, experienced a confusing victory (hopefully, this will not become the theme of my blog posts this semester). After reading several other blogs and discussions (check out, I thought I had figured out the process, but no picture viewer or editor on my computer would allow me to open my manipulated files. I came upon , which allows you to upload a JPEG onto their public forum and corrupts the file for you. This website did, in fact, upload my first two pictures, but did not (at first) corrupt it (third time was the charm).

I wrestled with the idea of downloading one of the free file corruption programs offered online, but (to my shame) could not quite get past the intentional glitching. I understand that these controlled glitches are art. I understand that they are releases of a “freer” version of the self and that they can be reactions against “a hyper-realism in media.” I even understand that I am supposed to view these works as a moment of rest, instead of the foreshadowing of unavoidable and all-consuming doom. But I found that my body viscerally reacts to these images much the same way that it reacts to some contemporary, dissonant orchestral/chamber performances (I am thinking here of the Kronos Quartet’s performance of George Crumb’s Black Angels “Departure” ). In spite of the appreciation I have for the art form, I start to feel nauseous and anxious throughout my exposure to the piece. Clicking the “Download Software” button, encircled with glitching images, just felt wrong. I wanted to participate in this controlled corruption, but I just felt that, if I did… my computer might be the victim of corruption.

For me, this uncomfortable and bodily repulsion makes me question whether or not my relationship with media functions as a reflection of a carefully constructed societal relationship with technology. There is certainly an element of fear in things we do not understand or trust. The “hacker” hype has villainized individuals meddling with technology outside the norms of the status-quo, “user-friendly” programs, standard on our personal computing devices. I think it is strange that I feel a little rebellious, when I change the text on a picture file – like I am dabbling in the dark arts. Why is it so taboo to step outside the constructs of cookie-cutter programming?

Original picture uploaded to

Original picture uploaded to


After corruption

After corruption



One comment on “More Media-Based Confusion

  1. Lori Emerson says:

    Renee, just to reiterate that it is such a thrill for me to read about your risk-taking ventures into the lab and with your hands-on experiments with glitch. I’ve had the same affective response as you with all things noisy, glitchy and while I rarely go out of my way to court noise and glitch, I’m fascinated with the near nausea it produces and I’m convinced there’s a genuine possibility of transformation available in these truly uncomfortable experiences. It’s remarkably similar to what Futurists and other early 20th century avant garde artists/writers were working through at the turn of the century – would be curious sometime to hear your thoughts on this in relation to glitch:

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