Parasites at Work.

An Essay in the Aesthetics of Glitch Art

  • Alice Iacobone Università di Genova
Parole chiave: Glitch studies, Glitch art, Bug, Parasite, Symptom


The paper considers the field of glitch art and aims to analyze it historically and theoretically. In the first section, the glitch is addressed in its general features, i.e., as a minor malfunction that calls into question the ordinary functioning of both technical and socio-political machines. Then (section 2), I sketch a history of the ways in which the glitch has circulated across different artistic media and genres. The third section draws attention to an often-overlooked aspect of glitching dynamics, i.e., the fact that the glitch differs logically and practically from the bug that generates it. While these three sections are also intended as a critical survey on the existing literature, the fourth section aims to outline an original proposal for an aesthetics of glitch art. Such account unfolds as an aesthetics of parasitism, where the bug plays the role of the parasite (the material and yet invisible element that perturbs the artwork’s digital code) and the glitch plays the role of the symptom (the artwork’s hyper-visible, disturbing phenomenal appearance).