Mega amounts of pixels are arranged on flat, led screens, providing the viewer with an ultra-high definition representation of an image. Mobile phone companies have literally pushed their displays to the edge with borderless screens. Despite this, the digital images that can be swiped across these screens only exist because of the individual pixels that they are made from. Whilst millions of users put their faith in this technology to capture and store their memories, a loose connection, or a dropped device, could easily corrupt an image file, rendering it useless. The more pixels used to create an image, the more prone it is to becoming corrupt.
The vulnerability of digital images was made clear to me when my Camera stopped working, whilst I was photographing my son playing football. It had started to rain quite heavily and my camera stopped working. Luckily, the photos on the memory card were ok, but it made me realise that digital isn’t indestructible. I started to look through, and back up my digital archive. I started to notice images that were similar to my most memorable photographs from my own childhood. The photographs that I was taking of my sons was similar to the photographs that my dad had taken of my brother and I. For example, celebrating football achievements, birthday parties, and family portraits. Despite the thousands of images that I’ve taken, those that were similar to my favourite childhood photographs stuck in my mind the most. It is as if they’re imprinted in my mind, to the extent that I would still be able to see them if the image had a glitch.
Following my Assignment 4 tutorial, I decided to develop the idea of glitching photographs which were contextually similar to my past and present. This meant researching photographers who had experimented this aesthetic and the technicalities of doing it. Some digital artists, such as Melanie Willhide and Sabato Visconti, have embraced this flaw in digital imagery, producing new artwork. Glitch art is made by forcing errors within the image’s data, using techniques such as data bending, data moshing, and hex editing. The fact that you could tamper with the internal construction of an image’s raw data really appealed to me.
At first I used Apple’s TextEdit to delete and copy text imported from an image. also tried inserting text which was directly related to the image. The results ranged from absolutely no difference, to altering the colour, contrast and composition of the photograph. My skills-based research also included using Glitch Photo and Hex editor apps. Again, the results with these were quite varied. Wanting to push the boundaries further, I began databending photographs by importing them into Audacity and applying different audio effects, such as reverb and echo. During this entire process, I was curious to find out what the effect of my tampering would have on the resulting image. This reminded me of when I was younger, opening a packet of developed film photographs, to see how they had turned out.
Since my images were inspired by both analog and digital, I wanted this to be reflected in the final product. Therefore, I have created a photo book which uses QR codes to link to a digital version of the original image with its glitched copy. The photo book shows enlarged screen shots of glitched photographs, and the photographs have been chosen due to their similarity between past and present. Subsequently, both analog and digital photographs inhabit both contexts. QR codes in the book provide a link to the original and glitched photos. This represents my memory of the photographs, beyond the surface level of the original image. There is no need to see a perfectly preserved photograph of the moment it was captured. Each image remains vivid in my mind, because I was there to experience those moments.
The Photo Book
Frustratingly, I only encountered glitch art towards the end of my research for this assignment. If I had more time, I could have explored this in much more detail. Since it is a relatively new photographic art form, I would like to develop my ideas further. Also, this will be my second and final Level 2 course, so I am considering whether Level 3 would provide me with an opportunity to challenge myself and the limits of digital imaging.