Emerging from its historic existence at the fringes of art and technology, in the shifting world of new media and electronic art, glitch has evolved into a trend within popular culture. Glitch art appropriates the aesthetics of technical failure, be that analogue or digital. It can be seen in music videos such as Kanye West’s Welcome to Heartbreak (2009) and in Hollywood blockbusters such as Ghost in the Shell (2017). But what does its permeation across different mediums and formats mean for the art form? Has its appropriation killed glitch art? Or does its ubiquity create a new visual language that everyone can use to create artworks that disrupt the digital image and create a message within the medium itself?  

The new ubiquity of the glitch has been accompanied by a democratisation of the tools of production. No longer dependent upon knowledge of coding, the emergence of app art has created new possibilities for making and disseminating art through the internet. App art opens up opportunities for participation by providing simple digital tools, so that anyone can become a creator, replicating the wider societal shift from a consumer to a ‘prosumer’ society.

In this society, the role of the artist is of no greater importance than the role of the observer. New media, and apps significantly, still result in the same end point as more traditional art forms, the audience is the destination of the work and ultimately that hasn’t changed with app art, if anything it’s improved the accessibility of artworks to audiences. In this way, ‘The Death of the Author’ by Roland Barthes can be related to many web 2.0 applications. Barthes argues that the reader is as of much importance to the text/ artwork than the author/ artist; a text’s unity lies in it’s destination, not it’s origin - as web platforms enable anyone to be the author and welcome interaction and engagement.

App art is an art form rather than purely a commodity. However, apps generally have a commercial element to them, so what happens when they enter the art world? A strange amalgamation of the two, combined with participation, collaboration and creativity. Bjork’s App ‘Biophilia’, is now held in the architecture and design collection at the MoMA is an example of this. The app innovates the way people experience music by letting them participate in performing and making the music and visuals, rather than listening passively. This enforces the idea that some apps are not simply marketing ploys but rather user led artworks, which bodes well for the ‘prosumer’ society that Smack My Glitch Up advocates.

This embrace of the prosumer in the art world can also be seen in the recent exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, a blockbuster show exhibiting selfies, entitled ‘Selfie to Self- Expression’. The exhibition looks at the mobile phone as a new medium for self-expression in artists today. Part of the show welcomed anyone, not just artists, to send in their selfie for a chance to win the #SelfExpression competition. This allowed anyone to be the artist, removing the privileged position of the artist as the sole author of the exhibition. Once the tools of creation become accessible to everyone the artist becomes less important.

Museums have altered their lighting techniques to suit smart phones. Cultural institutions are embracing iconic photo opportunities because it acts as free promotion and marketing, and, more importantly, draws a younger crowd. Chad Coerver from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art said “It’d be foolish for museums not to actively consider this [selfie culture]. It plays such an essential role in terms of word of mouth… We are definitely looking at what those iconic selfie moments are going to be.” Today, there is nothing more iconic than Beyonce and Jay Z posing in front of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris (October 2015).

As a reflection of these ideas, alongside the differing glitch works (video, sound, photography, screen prints and digital drawings), clients to DKUK are invited to create a glitched portrait of themselves whilst they have their hair cut. Using the app Glitché, the finished glitched images are displayed via a scrolling feed on a screen amongst the other works, further flattening any hierarchy between artist and audience.