<- Internet Studio
Glitch Garden by Erika Hietala

Glitch Garden is an image-based art project that distorts a JPEG’s technical make-up to transform it entirely. By manipulating the code composition of images, the visual composition of the image itself is completely altered. An image’s code is a series of thousands of seemingly random characters, but are in a very specific order that is unique to each image. Visual distortion occurs when this code is tampered with, removing complete control from the artist. The element of chance is a large aspect of the composition of these works, because the glitching is unpredictable and unique to every image.

Flowers and plants were chosen as Glitch Garden’s main subject matter because of their universality. Flowers surround everyone in every region, and are encountered every day. They are found in nature, and are also given as gifts to signify an important event or feeling. Each type of flower has been assigned meaning by society, and those meanings are what Glitch Garden inputs into the image’s code to intentionally glitch the image, so that the meaning itself is what causes the visual distortion. The images range from being strictly about plants’ assigned arbitrary meaning, to personal experiences with certain flowers, to exploring the presence of agriculture in pop culture sensations. In this realm, Glitch Garden aims to investigate whether or not the assigned meanings of foliage are accurately represented in popular culture.

Glitch Garden utilizes Instagram as a way to embed art into a main social media that already resides in everyone’s pocket. This platform creates instant accessibility to the art, while generating a community of like-minded artists and plant enthusiasts. Distribution of the images on Instagram enables the plants to be virtually distributed, because the physical flower no longer exist outside of pixels. Sending your friend or partner a flower now becomes as simple as tagging their username in the comments.

Since the circulation of images online is now an easy process, this project utilizes ideas of appropriation. All of the images are pulled from the Internet, and ultimately returned there after they experience the Glitch Garden process. The digitization of the flowers, in addition to their constant downloading and uploading, distances the representation of flowers from their original physical selves. This aspect of the project resembles Chris Coy’s artwork Jstchillin, which also utilizes the circulation of images on the internet. This project was also influenced by the work of Jennifer Steinkamp, who digitizes flowers with analog techniques as a way to unveil hidden meaning. Glitch Garden also looks to other internet artists, such as Takeshi Murata and Adam Ferriss, as inspiration for its visual aesthetics.