Hybrid Agency and Glitch in Digital Games: revisiting the politics and aesthetics of perceptual disorientation
Panel:Panel C2: Glitch Art (paper session)
Venue:Stockholm School of Economics, room 311
In this paper, I argue that the aesthetic strategies of perceptual disorientation that were central to the installation art, minimalist sculpture, and experimental film of the 1960s and ‘70s can be revisited and revised in order to understand how the disruption and confusion of flows of perceptual information figures in contemporary experimental digital game design. In reference to the post-war period, art historians and artists have suggested that art works could disorient the spectator and thereby heighten self-consciousness of the very processes of perception that underlie an everyday life contemporaneously controlled by top-down distributed moving image media. However, claims to resistance through heightened consciousness are no longer relevant to the elucidation of the political potential of perceptual disorientation qua aesthetic strategy. By giving a close reading of the glitch graphics, noise design, and in-game activities of the independent video game production Memories of a Broken Dimension (c. 2012, by Datatragedy), I argue that this work is a key example of how digital games generate the worlds of hybrid computer-human agency and environmentally distributed cognitive functions that must be central to our understanding of a politics of aesthetics adequate to today’s media environments. Rather than reflection and critical distance, I suggest that Memories of a Broken Dimension is a platform for the player’s enactment of a process of information access and manipulation through which the entanglement of human and synthetic materialities of cognition takes place. Disorientation leads not to distance before the world; it is the quality of experience special to immanent mutations and imbrications of human and machine that are the very moment where thought and action open to potentials for new states of affairs.