Micro-Project: Glitched Aberrations

By: Randall Packer |

Drawing from the work of Jon Cates, Rosa Menkman and other glitch artists, this project will explore the aberrations, failures, and artifacts that signify this artistic form.

Glitch Manipulation Process

The following alterations are intended to show the results of “hacking” an image by altering its code as text. The idea is to show what lies beneath the surface of an image and to understand the process of how images can be manipulated simply by adding to substituting its code. This method of deconstruction is crucial to a better understanding of the “fragility” of our media as well as the aesthetic results of intentional deconstruction.

  1. Create a new post so that you can share your work as you go along. First, Choose an image to subject to a series of transformation. Be sure you are not using the original, make a copy. Add this image on your blog post. Here is the image I am using (believe it or not it hasn’t yet been glitched!):

3. Save the image into a Photoshop.psd (Photoshop format) file. Make a copy of this file as it is easy to break the file, and use the copy in the following steps. If you break the copy, just make another copy from the original and start over again.

2. Open the .psd file in both Preview and TextEdit to carry out a series of hacks into the file’s code. You will be able to go back and forth to see the alterations. In TextEdit, don’t alter the top section, or the very bottom, which can “break” the file. Go perhaps half-way down the file’s code, cut a section of code and paste it somewhere else, save it, and you will see of section of the image changing when you refresh the file in Preview, and note the difference between these different types of hacks and how they alter the image in various ways. Although this is not an exact science, try cutting and pasting from different parts of the file. When you are satisfied with the results, save as a .jpg file and add to your post.

img-tzu-nyen-ho-interview3 copy

3. Make a copy of the glitched .psd file (again, it is easy to break), open in Preview and Text Edit and keep going. See how far you can cause it to break down until it no longer resembles the original. At a certain point, you may see something quite radical happening: blocks of pixels, severe color changes, or just a swath of color. Save the file as a .jpg and add to your post, such as the image below:

img-tzu-nyen-ho-interview3 copy 2

Continue this same process one more time: in which you can refine (if that’s allowed in glitch) by going deeper and deeper into the structure of the file until it has become something completely transformed. It may even look different in Preview and when you open online. Here is one more for good measure.

img-tzu-nyen-ho-interview3 copy 3

4. Ultimately, this is about process, about your interaction with the code of the file, understanding at a system level how code operates on an image or a sound, etc. The images are also quite beautiful, impossible in many ways to create in any other way. They even seem to go beyond filters, which allows you to do this with more control. But it is the loss of control that is interesting and provocative.

Happy Glitching!!

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