this page is an introduction to the set of interactive tutorials contained in this website, which are themselves an introduction to the practice of glitch art. specifically, this site is an introduction to "databending", which is the foundation of glitch art. && b/c that's a pretty bold claim (the kind i can get pretty anxious/insecure about ⚆ _ ⚆) ...this page is really just a collection of disclaimers + clarifications so i can rest easy about this whole thing. i'd also like to use this page to introduce myself: hi-(＾▽＾)ノ my name is Nick Briz && i'm a new-media artist/educator/organizer based in Chicago IL. i've been making glitch art + teaching it + organizing events around it for over a decade (most notably GLI.TC/H, an international conference/festival/gathering i co-organized from 2010 to 2012, along w/jon.satrom + Rosa Menkman && many others, which facilitated collaborations between glitch artists). this site contains a collection of updated (+some new) tutorials/tools i've produced over the years, in part b/c folks regularly email/dm/request updates to outdated tutorials, but also just b/c i still love databending JPEGs (^_-) even in our current post glitch era (search for jonCates's #postGlitch tag on various social platforms).
if u're new to glitch art, it's worth noting that there are many diff ports through which to access this convo: its theory, its aesthetic, its politics, its community, its short (but interesting) history, etc. this site is an intro to glitch art through its practice. we could define glitch art from this perspective: as the practice of using digital or analog errors for aesthetic purposes by either corrupting digital data or physically manipulating electronic devices. this is, after all, how it's defined on Wikipedia. but glitch art (&& glitch artists more so) rejects codification, it's an overloaded term. consider, for example, that i wrote the first glitch art Wikipedia page, many versions ago, && apart from that initial defining sentence, is entirely diff today than it was then, having undergone lots of contentious edits (even having been entirely deleted more than once, see Glitch Art Historie[s] my short essay for the GLI.TC/H READER[ROR]). not surprisingly, i've had plenty of both delightful && unpleasant debates about what "is" +/or "isn't" glitch art. this site avoids 'telling u what' in favor of 'showing u how' (though if u really want to know my personal opinion on the is/isn't refer to my interactive essay Thoughts on Glitch[Art]v2.0)
that said, even showing u how risks contentious codification. i've met glitch artists who instigate digital errors for lots of diff reasons (again refer to Thoughts on Glitch[Art]v2.0) in various diff ways. the tools used by glitch artists are often esoteric, like the TC-1 (computerized) Jacquard loom used by Melissa Barron to produce a series of glitched textiles of Apple II "crack screens." the process is often unpredictable + messy like the collaborative work of Kyougn Kmi + Daniel Rourke. in a series of networked performances the duo linked a hodgepodge of free apps (YouTube, Skype, TinyChat) to conduct disastrous duets, intentionally exploiting bad connections && high latency in their cacophonous Glti.ch Karaoke project. the techniques can also get complex, like designing entirely new file formats for the sheer purpose of breaking them as Kim Asendorf did w/the ExtraFile project. but they can also be beautifully low tech, like UCNV's piece New Vulnerability, where the artist repurposes LCD screens as floor tiles which get progressively more glitched + cracked as folks walk all over them. i share these examples to illustrate how the practice of glitch art is really a diverse set of practices.
that said, though most glitch artists eventually develop their own unique process[es], in my experience, the vast majority of 'em all started in the same place: databending, which is (in part) why i claim it to be the foundation of glitch art. to be clear, i'm not claiming that databending is the only way to make "real" glitch art, nor should the techniques described on this site be understood as the "right way" to databend (there are plenty of variations which go by diff names like the word pad effect by stAllio! aka Benjamin Berg or databending using audacity by Hellocatfood aka Antonio Roberts), b/c there is no "right way", databending is all about using technology the "wrong way".
if there's one thing all glitch artists have in common it's this ethic, to take a familiar piece of technology && do something unfamiliar w/it. this is a hacker ethic which predates glitch art. in the film Unauthorized Access by Annaliza Savage , an unnamed German hacker defines hacking as "using new technologies in a way which is not intended." this hacker ethic is echoed in Nic Collins's book Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking, where he writes the first rule of hacking is "anything worth doing is worth doing wrong". this is b/c, as net.art duo jodi.org said in a Motherboard documentary, "the mistake is nothing wrong, the computer keeps working. Something wrong still works, there's nothing wrong with something wrong." it's this hacker ethic i want u to keep in the back of ur mind throughout these tutorials... no matter how many times i tell u to do something a certain way, remember that at the end of the day, the goal is to do it wrong.
ok ok ok, one last disclaimer b4 u dive in, u might have noticed the way i write w/all the characters + abbreviations + emoticons. i'm a hacker, a child of the Internet && a devotee of it's culture[s] && thus, like others b4 me, prefer to always write like i'm messaging +/or leaving comments in my code ...some folks dig this others hate me for it... that said, it's been brought to my attention that this makes it difficult for non-native English speakers to auto-translate my ramblings. seeing as how this site exists primarily for edu purposes, i've opted for normal speak for the rest of these pages.
data playground (RAW)
This section consists of a custom byte (text/hex) editor, image viewer and audio player made specifically for databending.
creating an image from scratch (BMP)
This section is adapted from an Art 21 blog post I wrote a while back. It's a somewhat crazy proposition, but it's worth doing at least once in your glitch art life.
huffman hacking (JPEG)
Databenders typically avoid messing with the "header", but this can be one of the funnest parts to glitch, if you know what to look for.
avoiding frame headers (MP3)
This is a tool for identifying and avoiding MP3 frame headers, so you get more glitches and less "this file is corrupted" messages.
glitch codec tutorial v3 (MOV, MP4, etc)
This is the 3rd (and final?) version of my Glitch Codec Tutorial. It's a bit more 'advanced', there's no downloadable .ISO for this one, I explain how to setup everything up on your own computer.