When we think of programs and code, we think of near-perfect structures that function flawlessly. In reality, programs and websites are far from flawless. Since they are made by humans, they are also capable of carrying human error. The art collective Jodi breaks down the various elements of websites and games to highlight the occurrence of glitches and create something new from these sources.
Jon Cates’ idea of dirty new media is that it isn’t perfect or clean, due to their very existence in the world:
… But also that there is a non-neutrality of techno-social artifacts and contexts, that our technologies are not neutral, also that they are embedded, they are part of our lives, and that embeddedness has the word “bed” in there, we’re in bed with them also, they’re embedded in ways that are complex. They are not sterile, they’re imperfect, they are not clean, because they exist in the world, which is also imperfect. And so, I do believe that dirty new media as a way of life and as an approach to art making is a way of foregrounding these facts, these realities, of our lived experiences, and acknowledging how situated we are with all of these systems, and artifacts.
These works highlight the human limitation of machines. Whilst these sites and games work well for their purpose for the most part, taken to a different context and purpose, they react in a disjointed, confused manner. They are far from perfect. The potential and purpose of a program is limited to what a person makes it to be, and thus leaves a lot open to glitch about, which Jodi highlights.
In modern internet culture, most people actually enjoy glitches (so long as they aren’t game breaking), as seen with various YouTube channels such as cricken and motdef, and the popularity of games such as GTA, which was well known in its early days for the ridiculous cheats one could put in, causing cars to fly around and pedestrians having military-grade guns. Fallout 3 and New Vegas are well known for their buggy, yet hilarious launches, with physics being way off, and limbs splattering about everywhere. Most open world games are subject to tons of glitch interactions, due to the wide amount of things to do and limit in developer scope, which leads to interesting situations. Whilst these recent trends do not necessarily go about breaking down games into an abstract interactive form, I do feel that they capture the playfulness and the curiosity of Jodi in exploring the limits and quirks of technology.
I think Jodi is an amazing collective, featuring great modifications with games and sites, and highlighting the “organic” factor of machines. Machines are capable of so much greatness, but are ultimately creations of man, and are subject to the failings of men as well.