Glitch: A Reveal

Goriunova and Shulgin describe a glitch as an “unpredictable change in they system’s behavior, [or] when something obviously goes wrong” (110). It’s frustrating just thinking about it. We want our technologies to work the way they were meant to; to function flawlessly. Any diversion in this expectation stops us in our tracks. Especially if we only have basic knowledge of our machines. 

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Yet in thh chapter of “Software Studies: A Lexicon,” glitches are described as “stunning” and “rich” (115, 113). Computers are oppressive structures, guilty of hiding vibrant life under their dull exterior. Glitches appear “as a temporary replacement of some boring conventional surface as crazy and dangerous momentum” (115). They are rebellious and energetic. Glitches give “a possibility to glance at software’s inner structure…it shows the ghostly conventionality of the forms by which digital spaces are organized” (114). More broadly–a disruption or unexpected change can help reveal the workings of a complicated structure. 

How can we apply this to our ecologies? 

We should confront our ecologies when they are in chaos, when they are breaking down, or disrupting their traditional pattern. When a system is running smoothly, it’s almost impossible to see it. Ideally it will be unnoticeable and simply function as intended. However its structure will reveal itself when presented with tension or conflict. This is especially true for my ecology because it occurs in a public space. The phrase evokes freedom, but there is a larger society of control that exists beneath the surface.

Union Square Park feels like a place that is mine. It feels like a place that it is all of ours. Open to tourists and New Yorkers alike, to art installations, street performers, and preachers. Upon closer inspection, in the presence of a glitch, this is not entirely true. The Occupy Wall Street movement demonstrated this for me.

ImageLarge crowds and political unrest caused tension. It caused a sort of cultural glitch and a physical glitch in the intended purpose of the park. What seemed like a ‘public space’ to the public, was truly a space to be controlled by law enforcers. There were barricades of every variety: metals, bodies, cars. The glitch revealed the larger system of the park, the network of control that exists below the surface. 

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~ by katdom on October 30, 2013.

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