No. 18 — Glitches Are Not Just Technical Malfunctions (They Are the Basis of Beautiful Art)
Glitch Art, How and Why to the Tezos Community, and Prominent Tezos Artwork
Here’s my regular round-up of Web3 findings and insights for creators and artists.
Glitches Are Not Just Technical Malfunctions (They Are the Basis of Beautiful Art)
Ever find yourself looking for a place to hang and stumble into a wonderful hidden gem?
Only later to discover that everyone you know has been going to this place for years?
That’s what Glitch Art feels like for me. Over the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time looking at NFT artwork and hearing stories of different artists. I noticed some common stylistic patterns and it eventually hit me — There’s something going on here.
Glitch art involves intentionally creating glitches or sudden malfunctions that produce unexpected outcomes to create art.
It isn’t very new. It’s been going strong for over 20 years and traces back to a 1978 piece called Digital TV Dinner (some would say it goes back even further). This piece was created by Raul Zaritsky, Jamie Fenton, and Dick Ainsworth using the Bally Astrocade gaming system (yes, a video game console was used to create art back in the ‘70s).
Glitch art is defiance towards the overly polished aesthetic created through advancements in color and sound technologies. In the ‘90s it was a rejection to the overly photoshopped magazine cover models and today it would be the same attitude towards the overly filtered Instagram posts.
But again, this isn’t new. We’ve always had a fascination with the texture and raw quality of distorted sounds and visuals that result from technical imperfections.
Glitch is preferring the raw sounds of live albums to the cleaned up studio recordings.
Glitch is emcees in the ‘70s mixing records and extending beats to give birth to hip-hop.
Glitch is the wailing dissonance of heavy metal electric guitars.
Glitch is communication from the other side when lights flicker during a séance.
Glitch is not simply a malfunction, it’s a break in regular comfortable patterns. It’s a revelation of another world.
When I think of glitch, I immediately think of The Matrix. You know that scene where Neo sees a cat in a doorway and remarks, “deja vu.”
Everyone freezes and he says he witnessed two different cats walking across the doorway.
They tell him deja vu is a glitch in the matrix.
The point being glitch isn’t just a subculture, it’s also mainstream. In 2009, Kanye West did this beautiful glitched-out music video for his song with Kid Cudi, Welcome To Heartbreak. Radiohead has been known for glitch effects in their music and any movie or TV show that deals with hackers or technology often uses glitch effects in their edits.
With Glitch art you find some artists that intentionally create glitches through manipulating inputs with unexpected outcomes. You also find artists that layer on the glitch aesthetic to their artwork. In this case, the glitch is not an actual glitch, but stylized according to common visual/audio glitch patterns.
If this piece piqued your interest in Glitch art, I’ll share some artists I’ve discovered over the last few months.
This first group is of cryptoartists I’ve come across that mint their work as NFTs:
This next group are artists in the traditional art world:
The list above is just a few artists I’ve discovered through my own digital meandering. Please share some of your favorite artists in this space if you have any by replying to this email or in the comment section if you’re viewing it on Substack.
Looking For An On Ramp to Web3? Give Tezos (XTZ) a Go.
If you haven’t yet made the plunge into Web3 and are looking for a good entry point, I recommend giving the Tezos (XTZ) blockchain a shot.
It’s where I settled in back in December 2021 and have seen many others do the same. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate the Tezos community that has this cool edgy feel to it. I’ll share what I mean about this further down the article, but first I want to discuss some of its benefits and features.
Tezos is fast. It has some great marketplaces. Transaction fees are miniscule. The ecosystem is pretty mature with new dApps and platforms coming online regularly. It allows for a great low cost, low stakes entry.
While the Ethereum NFT markets certainly have the most activity and many of the highest profile projects — you pay through the nose in gas fees (transaction costs) making experiments and potential mistakes even more costly.
And I’m not the only one who feels Tezos is a good a starting place. Recently, I was reading a prominent Web3 newsletter, Metaversal that also suggested Tezos as a great starting place.
For whatever reason, cryptoart on Tezos is cheap. I’ve seen a handful of artists with high priced art on Ethereum choosing to sell on Tezos as a means of providing art accessible at lower prices.
This is what I was alluding to earlier on why Tezos seems like an edgy indie joint. It’s not run by flippers looking to get rich quick from buying and selling art. Most collectors on Tezos are not looking for their golden goose. And those that are, quickly learn they’re in the wrong place.
As an artist, it’s a double edged sword. You’ll start with lower priced art on Tezos that will increase in value at a slower pace. But you get to showcase alongside many great artists and don’t risk hundreds of dollars in gas fees.
Another unique quality I’ve found on Tezos is that artists sell editions instead of 1/1s, meaning as an artist you would mint multiple editions, say 25, of one piece instead of just a single edition. That, in part, accounts for some of the lower pricing. The advantage is exposure to more collectors that may pay off in the long run.
So how do you get started?
I’d start with buying Tezos on Gemini (I believe it’s the only U.S. Crypto exchange that has a trading pair with Tezos at the moment). Once you do that, use a browser wallet like Kukai or Temple for experimenting or a hardware wallet like Ledger or Trezor if you really want a higher layer of cybersecurity.
I’m not sure that Tezos would be the best destination for your utility-backed pfp project with a 10 year roadmap, but Arthur Breitman suggests otherwise in this Twitter thread:
As a note, notice the lizard creature in his avatar — that’s a Trezzard which is a big pfp (profile picture NFT) project on the Tezos blockchain. He’s not an impartial judge here and I believe he works directly with the Tezos team.
It’s hard to predict how everything plays out in the future. Will the market catch on to the fact that art is underpriced on Tezos and cause a huge spike in prices over time or will it maintain lower prices and remain as a market for more accessible art?
I won’t even pretend to speculate on the overall Tezos ecosystem, but there are many open questions there.
Here are some informative YouTube videos to learn more about the Tezos blockchain:
Must Know Artists and Projects on Tezos
Now that you’ve considered getting onto Tezos, let’s take a look at some of the popular artists and projects you can find here.
John Karel, also known as jjjjjjohn - he rose to Tezos prominence with his Window Still Life series. At this point, many artists make derivative versions and you’ll see other occasional references in Tezos art. He still mints new projects and pretty much shits gold.
Paper Buddha, like a few others I’m listing, has works on multiple blockchains. Their work is described as “psychedelic collages” of many different depictions of the Buddha.
There’s a group of realists / surrealists portrait painters that mint some incredible NFT art that I’ve been following:
XCOLLABZ is another great account/creator worth following. They arrange collaborations between talented artists on Tezos.
Tim Maxwell is a prominent artist minting on Tezos that makes beautifully detailed monochromatic line drawings.
You will also find many brilliant artists that work with generative algorithms and AIs to make art. Here are a few worth checking out.
Beyond these individual artists,there are some collections and series worth looking into as well.
There are innumerable wonderful projects and artists on Tezos with new folks joining everyday. These are just a few. Just as I mentioned above about Glitch artists, please reply to this email with some of your favorite Tezos artists and collections. I’d love to hear and discover more!
As I dig deeper into Web3, the discussion will involve cryptocurrency and I want to make sure to include this disclaimer. This is not financial advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
As a disclaimer, I have no background or expertise in finances. law, or economics. This article explores new technologies like NFTs and cryptocurrencies and the potential uses for artists and creators. This is for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, investment, financial, or other advice.