Research Critique: BOLD3RRR by Jon Cates

After watching Jon Cate’s BOLD3RRR… Realtime: Reflections and Render-times, my brain went into a glitch. I’m pretty sure everyone’s first take on his work is a ‘I don’t understand what’s going on’.

This recording shows him mucking around with softwares of his daily life, playing with Ableton and switching between screens, making comments as he sets up a desktop misc-en-scene.

For Jon Cates, a point to commend was that he was doing all of that in real-time. He was merging feedback loops with personal data that were swimming in associations back and forth around the world, namely Chicago to Taipei to Boulder and back again. That is rather remarkable doing it ‘live’.

In this process, i’ve noticed the bulk of white noise produced in the video and it was very painful to the ears. The 10 minute mark was the longest I could hit before developing a headache, to be honest.

Screen grabs from BOLD3RRR, a ‘live’ desktop misc-en-scene by Jon Cates | Link :

Apart from that, I also felt that whatever recorded can be seen as a collective narrative. There were abrupt cuts in between the video which he injected with. However, I still noticed a flow as the body copy in the video supported the flow of the narrative, hence deducing that the random interjected footage is part of making his point.

Also, I particularly enjoyed reading the conversation between Jon Cates and Randall Packer after seeing his work, as I was really curious of what sort of a person he is to create such art. (apart from his faxxxxinating typ3 styl333)

Aberration is indeed a way to sum glitch art as a whole. But as for Cates in particular, I felt like he was trying to put the normal and the abnormal together. Normal in the sense that these were the everyday things he would do on a desktop and abnormal, in the use of a desktop as a canvas and turning it into glitch. The desktop misc-en-scene turned out to become something particularly abnormal in my opinion, with the jarring white noise trippy jumpy graphics that actually made me feel uncomfortable after looking at it for long.

This might be due to the fact that we see and expect a clean and faultless desktop screen everyday and we find a sense of peculiarity when a part of a screen is not displaying something ‘right’, moreover distortion in images.

Personally, I’ve been a fan of glitch art with it’s trippy aesthetics and made a few pieces of glitch art myself. Even for my display icon here on OSS, I used some forms of chromatic aberration to elevate the look.


Val’s reaction on dirtynewmedia, 2017 – mixed medium

However, it was quite shock to come across the content on the  dirty new media tumblr site. My friends screamed when they saw the type of content posted and I guess they felt it was rather taboo.

“i wanted to reclaim fetish && say, yea, of course fetish is part of what i do b/c fetish is punk + its part of “originary” punk from the SEX shop run by Malcolm McLaren + Vivian Westwood. so, yea, of course, fetish is in my work, but its in this way that’s consistent w/ my art/life inna way that’s dirty, in the sense of being impure, but also (hopefully) sexxxy && exxxciting!”

Upon coming across this quote, I begin to tell some parts of his personality, on being really bold, especially with his work and being even bolder portraying his fetishes openly. Also depending on cultures, society and personality, dirty new media content are things that some might now show or expose to others. He is one the allows his art to frankly expose his style and be transparent about it. Pretty respectable as I wouldn’t go to the extend of incorporating such content in my art in Singapore. If you ask me why, I would bounce the question back to you – would you?

From my understanding, glitch art = visual glitches that come in forms of stills or moving images or even sound. There are several approaches of making glitch art that include data manipulation, misalignment, hardware failure, misregistration and distortion.

For Cate’s work, I notice that he makes direct alternations of the digital files itself, which is common for artists. Alternatively, there are others too that make hardware manipulating to create these errors. Some are fascinating and cool, like the gif I used in as my feature image. Others, as seen on his erotic tumblr site are slightly off the hook and NSFW which I won’t pin under my favourites in glitch art.

On a leaving note, it made me wonder: If it’s labelled glitch art, does it mean that nothing can go wrong? Since it is categorised as a glitch