Paint, Pixels and Glitches


The alleged remark of Paul DeLaroche upon seeing the first primitive photographs (“From today, painting is dead.”) acts as a historical bookmark for the subsequent chapters of painting. After the invention of the photograph, painters began to explore the qualities of paint itself - they asked themselves what painting could do that photography couldn’t. So they began to interpret light as paint, see forms in terms of brushstrokes and channel the more abstract sensations the eye could produce: painting became a playful, visceral, intellectual, emotional response to the world, rather than a neutral photographic copy of it. In short, painters began to embrace the physical qualities of paint. What could it do? They explored markmaking - dots, lines, sprays, dribbles, smears. They tried different applications - thin, thick, flat, impasto. They tried different supports: plastic, newpaper, cardboard, skin. Through their failure to reproduce photographic respesentation, paintings began to have a dialogue with their own means of production.

And so to the digital image.

From some paints of view, digital images possess an even greater possibility for tyrannising ‘the real’ than photography ever did. It’s partly this power that draws me towards the failings of the digital - the ghost in the machine, so to speak. The main drawback of raster images (and any rendered digital image in general) is the fallibility of the pixel. Consider the wider lifespan of a pixel - what happens to it? What does it do? In the case of digital photography, the pixels that make up an image are affected by a host of unseen factors, such as geometric raster distortions, signal to noise ratio caused by low levels of radiation, scanning frequency and image matrix size. When assessing the character of digital images, we could also consider the effect of compression, optimisation and artefaction and the unforseen but intriguing effects of image corruption.

Which leads me to Glitch Art, and databending.