Short PBS documentary about Glitch Art

Heath says:

[Video Link] The latest installment of the “Off Book” series from PBS Digital Studios is now live. The newest video takes a look at Glitch Art -- how unintentional digital mishaps can become, in the hands of some artists, things of beauty.

Glitch art can be thought of as looking at the very soul of a machine. Modern day consumer electronics are marketed with an expectation of perfection. And yet it’s inevitable that there will be mistakes and unexpected results when so much data comes crashing together. Digital artists working today see beauty in the unexpected and work hard to recreate this unique experience through stills, installations and live events.



  1. One big problem I had with the new film V/H/S is that it uses a ton of these glitch effects, and while they all look quite nice, few actually look like the sort of glitches you’d really get with IRL webcams/DV tape/VHS etc. The Emily/James segment was particularly bad; webcams just don’t use codecs like that.

  2. Kinda disappointed that this is all visual art with barely a mention of glitch music, and certainly no examples of it.  People were scratching up LPs, shipping them without  covers, forcing CDs to skip, and so on long before they were databending digital images.

    1. Agreed.  I mentioned that Glitch was first a genre of music where artifacts from the digital playback devices were used as musical material, but they could only cram in so much.  Really big fan of “Cracked Media” by Caleb Kelly, BTW.  Goes to show the emphasis on visual culture online.

      1. The one fella briefly mentioned the idea of glitching an audio file by editing it as a .RAW but they chickened out of playing what that sounds like.

        Sound is capable of being so much more abrasive than visuals, and they probably didn’t want to disrupt the energy of the video.

  3. Isn’t this stuff pretty old?  Many years ago — back in the 70s — I had a ‘distressed’ color TV hanging on my wall which cycled through various patterns and occasionally flicked up a few distorted frames from broadcasts.  I guess I could have gotten a grant for it, or sold it to someone.  Instead, eventually it fell off the wall and went the way of all televisions.  Now I have computers to do that sort of thing.

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