Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Journal Title or Book Title

2015 Precarious Aesthetics Conference, Berkeley University


In this paper, I think precarity in digital communication on two overlapping registers. The first is perhaps best described as an aesthetic intervention at the level of critical code studies, or, as Mark C. Marino describes it, “an approach that applies critical hermeneutics to the interpretation of computer code, program architecture, and documentation within a socio-historical context.”i What I am interested in examining here is the representation of natural languages by computer languages (specifically Unicode), but also natural languages’ ambiguation by computer languages in the production of aesthetic objects. The second intervention follows from the first. There is an architectural play at work in text-based glitch art, specifically where natural languages and the code that manifests them alter the shape and function of their interface. I am interested in thinking the glitch aesthetic in particular as one that not only identifies the limitations of our most common interfaces, but one that speaks an erratic and unstable visual language of design. In this text/code/text translation, the language of the glitch aesthetic manifests as computer code transforms letters, numbers, diacritical marks, and more, into the building blocks of aesthetic objects. This process speaks back to the form and function of language itself.

Related Pillar(s)