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EYES ON CULTURE #023
06 September 2023
The Real Glitch
EYES ON: The share-ability of physical glitch art
Images of glitched furniture are a niche, but extraordinarily popular, part of the internet. Made from solid material, they’re more than images. These objects actually exist in real life, struck with an intervention—the glitch—that would normally only exist in the digital.
For some strange reason, this “glitch-out-of-water” effect is extremely pleasing to social media users. It has become the source of much thrill.
WHY WE’RE WATCHING:
The most interesting thing about glitch sculpture is trying to understand why it’s so entertaining. How could it be that an effect, usually placed on an image and now placed on a real life object, is so enthralling? One answer is in these images’ aha! moment.
An aha! moment is created when the viewer realises that they’re seeing the well-known digital effect, but out of context. Next comes the realisation of the practical implications for creating that moment; the recognition that someone went to such extreme lengths as to actually carve it out.
Perhaps too harsh a read on what’s going on with these objects (one might hope that putting that much effort into creating an art object would result in a less clickbate-y outcome), there is something undeniably sticky about physically glitched household items.
Attention Real Estate
EYES ON: The Million Dollar Homepage
In 2005, The Million Dollar Homepage was thought up by the then student Alex Tew as a very clever way to make money to pay for university.
The website is made up of 1 million pixels (arranged in a 1000x1000 grid), with each pixel priced at $1. Tew sold off blocks of 10x10 pixels to advertisers, who could fill the space with their logo, a link to their website, and a short slogan which would appear as a visitor’s mouse hovered over a piece of property.
After great sales success, the last 1,000 pixels on the homepage were a hot commodity, and were auctioned off for $38,100 to the weirdly similarly named business, MillionDollarWeightLoss.com.
WHY WE’RE WATCHING:
A phenomenon contained to the internet of the early 2000s, The Million Dollar Homepage is a telling illustration of the attention economy in its nascent state. Before user attention was spread thin (and simultaneously made thicker) across social media platforms, sharp spikes in internet attention could be found in rather obscure locations. A simple hook, or even word of mouth, could randomly bring a $1 million dollars of attention to a webpage.
The look and feel of The Million Dollar Webpage conveys the nature of that attention. It’s quite impossible to pay real attention to the details of the webpage; its users are drowned in overstimulation by the page’s signs and colours. The page doesn’t work to sustain your attention either. One visit is enough.
Instead, the webpage produces attention by planting the idea that others have given it. In that sense, calling it the million dollar homepage is what’s clever. It manifests $1 million dollars worth of page visits, of attention, by just getting people to check out what the whole thing’s about.
EYES ON: The Embroidered Computer by Irene Posch
The Embroidered Computer consists of a programmable 8 bit computer made from metallic gold thread. An array of conductive materials arranged into elaborate, but specific, patterns gives rise to this adorned computer’s electronic functions. Visitors were even invited to program the textile themselves to carry out instructions, bringing each flower’s stem to life.
What is usually kept concealed at the very back of a computer is placed front and centre, beautified. And design motifs which are central to so many design traditions are networked.
WHY WE’RE WATCHING:
What’s so striking about this project is how much the whole thing doesn’t look like a computer. The flowing lines, organic and irregular, are far from the hard edges we usually associate with computers.
So, beside the obvious fact that this computer is stunning due to it being a product of a feat in embroidery, it also stuns because it’s so odd to see a computer in a completely foreign visual language.