Junto Project 0349: Got Glitch? [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

Shredder 1.0 is an “alternative web browser” developed in 1998 by artist Mark Lanier. It remains live and online today, even twenty (!) years after launch. You can try it out at www.potatoland.org/shredder/.

The application works by passing a website’s source code through a rudimentary Perl script, which then rearranges the visual elements into a two-dimensional pile of abstracted screen fragments. The effect resembles a screenshot sliced into tiny pieces and thrown all over the floor, not unlike the random chaos of a Jackson Pollack painting. “My works are not objects but interfaces,” Lanier wrote in 2001. “By interacting with the work, the visitors shape the piece, causing it to change and evolve in unpredictable ways.”

In his book Why Things Break, author Mark. E. Eberhart describes how “for almost everyone, the word ‘structure’ evokes a strong visual.” Lanier’s approach turns this definition on its head by forcing us to visualize the *lack* of structure, or at least to contemplate a structure whose components are always in fluctuation.

A glitch, then, might be defined in digital terms as the identifiable break in which computerized output (graphics, text, etc.) experiences a change in structure. “Into the computer goes the question,” writes Eberhart, “and out comes a total change in entropy.”

For this weird piece, Suss Müsik sought to recreate a change in entropy through sound. Random musical phrases were played on piano, organ, electric guitar, fake woodwinds and percussion. These recordings were refactored and split using a digital delay pedal, then resequenced to 8-track as a single audio pane.

The piece is titled Shredder. The image is the Suss Müsik website run through the Shedder algorithm.

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