Data-Bending is the willful corruption of computer data in the pursuit of a new aesthetic in contemporary art – “Glitch Art” – a celebration of visual distortion, and the mercurially fragile qualities of today’s digital technologies. In summary it is the appreciation of the uncontrollable colour, shape and form that can occur in visual imagery when the code of the file is corrupted.
The manipulation of this code can be incredibly crude (File – Open as Text – Cut – Paste- Save), or it can be a more informed delicate exercise, utilising advanced algorithms to gently twist and garble familiar images into tortured parodies. Ok so it’s not exactly the Dutch Masters, but it is an interesting side product of the increasingly complex coded information that makes up more and more of our day to day lives.
The mutual compatibility of coded information when reduced to its rawest form affords interesting experimentation – What do Motzart’s Symphonies look like in JPEG format? What do the collected works of Da Vinci sound like as an Audio-MP3? As you might imagine it’s mostly chaotic and certainly not beautiful; but it starts to get really fun when the damage is controlled, indulging in a little light entropy rather than fully blown disarray.
Until a few years ago Glitch Art was safely confined to the domain of the virtual world, but improved access to increasingly more sophisticated 3D printers is bringing these experimentations across into the physical world, with many artists using these techniques to push forward the avant-garde of conceptual product design. Recognisable objects or original designs are modeled in three dimensions before having their data structures ‘remixed’, producing elaborate and arbitrary distortions of the consciously familiar.
Many people reading this may well be asking what the point of these experimentations are, and certainly would be refuting the idea that they could be called ‘art’, but to me they are interesting as sculptural pieces, asking questions about the extent to which digital technology governs our lives. The visual language of a corrupted image or broken monitor is so common to us today that the idea of a physical object that was ‘loaded incorrectly’ is alarmingly plausible. It also sets the scene for some of the questions digital fabrication will ask over the next 10 years.