Glitch & Esoteric Programming
Panel:Panel C2: Glitch Art (paper session)
Venue:Stockholm School of Economics, room 311
Both Glitch practice and Esoteric Programming Languages (esolangs) rely on confrontation between human thinking and computer logic. In glitch, the data behind a digital representation is disrupted in such as way that its simulation of analog representation can no longer remain convert, often resulting in shattered images or sound. This is an act of digital sabotage, relying on the inability of the machine to treat “wrong” data as anything other than right, and revealing the glitch in trying to represent that information in the best way that it can. Likewise, esolangs undermine the authority of the machine in their programming languages stripped of clarity and utility. The language brainfuck, for example, uses simple rules that are easy to understand, but together require the programmer to construct long rants of gibberish to use. It is reminiscent of work like Sol LeWitt’s Incomplete Open Cubes (1974), where exploring a rigid, contained system takes us on a ludicrous journey. It is in brainfuck’s unwillingness to concede to human thinking that it creates such a strange set of rules. The programmers who attempt to use it dramatize the conflict between the human/analog vs. digital/systematic. Both these practices invoke bodily gesture and nuance at the code level, which spill over the constraints of their systems — such as the glitched image that fails to conform to its file format — resulting in this digital disruption. When human impulses are allowed to run wild, strange new behaviors manifest, and call into question the authority of the machine.