The Artifacts of Regeneration


While spending a considerable amount of time with the glitch-work of Jon Cates (my first article for Hyperallergic is forthcoming), I have been thinking about Jon’s dirty new media output, a defiant acceptance of all forms of media-generated aberrations echoing John Cage’s embrace of noise in the previous century. It is a liberating idea in this age of sparkling clean media!

With roots deep in the history of Xerox art, Rauschenberg assemblages, sampling, collage, remix, and the rest, dirty new media not only accepts all things impure, it embraces them. As data becomes increasingly mutable and artists discover the possibilities of shifting the seemingly endless array of data types from one context to another, a new form emerges: not the purity of perfect renderings, but the emergence of aberrations that are born from the artifacts of compression, layering, blending, twisting, agitating the pixels and audio bits through multiple iteration and regeneration.

Things don’t get uglier, they get grittier and richer and better. We find ourselves luxuriating in the complexity of fantastic aliasing! All those tiny imperfections we have been taught to avoid at all costs, become the essence of composition: glitched, messed up, broken down, distorted and fragmented until something new and wondrous prevails.

But you have to be fearless in the pursuit. You might think you yourself are self-destructing in the process, when in fact, it may just be a phoenix rising from the grit. Let the artifacts and errors duplicate and spawn new generations where they may, because they will, whether we like it or not.

That in a nutshell is the history of art and dirty new media.