Glitch Art Goes Big

bitmap glitch skull by Flickr user letloosethelambs (CC)

I love outsider art and creative détournement, and so when something as innovative and unsettling as ‘data-moshing‘ and ‘glitch art‘ grew, I took notice. It may have been the inevitable combination of remix culture, hacking/programming, and the new aesthetic, but it definitely makes for some some interestingly (and intentionally) bad art.

Not every artistic endeavor gets recuperated by the mainstream (it sometimes feels as though they are randomly selected), but rather than kvetch about it when they do, it’s interesting to see in what way they are utilized. Glitch art is so jarring, often painful to watch and surely more challenging to create, that I am genuinely surprised that anyone would actually want glitches in their corporate Matrix.

But two pop-culture franchises have utilized it within the last few weeks. The first was the brilliant episode of Adventure Time, “A Glitch is a Glitch“, in which the villainous and buffoonish Ice King shortsightedly releases a virus to corrupt and destroy the entire Land of Ooo. David O’Reilly 3D-animated and beautifully cel-shaded this version of the show soon erupts into a digital blast of violent audio-visual noise, the fusillade of blocky blips and colorful streaks making one wonder if this is all the artifacting of O’Reilly’s exploration, or your subpar download speed. This episode also features an original 8-bit outro theme written by Flying Lotus.

The second is the recently released promo from Man of Steel, in which General Zod (Michael Shannon) briefly cuts in with interstellar imprecision to issue warning to the governments of Earth concerning our harboring his Kryptonian quarry, Kal-El. I would be more upset about this commercialization in its most virulent form, but that I expect Boardwalk Empire‘s Agent Van Alden to prove such a chilling Dru-Zod, perhaps as megalomaniacal as Terence Stamp.

More importantly, these early adopters have stayed true to the mind-blowing and experimental nature of a challenging medium.

For reference of what all that junk data looks like, here is Aaron Jacob Willman‘s “1994”:

You can see the rest of his work on vimeo.


It was a typical day in junior physics class at Point Cordial High when things took a turn... to the atypical! Mild-mannered Breshvic's seething distaste of physics broke through its last tensile straw as the very fabric of spacetime holding him in place tore like the flimsy wet blouse of an amateur porn artist! Young Breshvic found himself disembodied, floating wildly in a place with no shape or form, but more directions than previously revealed to him, and not easily explained in this format! Had he gone to that ethereal void of wraiths and gods? Had he crossed over to the land of dead? HAD HE GONE UTTERLY MAD? Had he simply fallen asleep during another lecture? NO! It was in this astral plane between reality and dream, nexus of dimension, the OMNIVERSE, that he first learned to use his powers, clawing madly to survive against nightmarish demons and malevolent cosmic shadows!

11 Comments on "Glitch Art Goes Big"

  1. looks like a bunny…

  2. “Adventure Time” is the best cartoon for Disinfo readers. Especially this episode:

    “YES!! AND THEIR BRAINS ARE RELEASING ADRENALINE! DOPAMINE! EVEN DIMETHYLTRYPTAMINE FROM THE PINEAL GLAND! This has serious educational value!! Thanatophobia and this NDE is giving us euphoric altered awareness!! Don’t you see, Princess?!? WE WERE ALL BORN TO DIE!!”

    -Finn, in the most absurd statement ever uttered in a children’s cartoon


  4. this stuff. ha ha ha i always wondered if i’d see it anywhere other than my own intrinsic domicile. indeed. Lord Inglip, herald of pestilence!

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