continent. maps a topology of unstable confluences and ranges across new thinking, traversing interstices and alternate directions in culture, theory, biopolitics and art.
Issue 4.4 / 2015: 1-2

Letter from the Editors

Maximilian Thoman, Gerald Nestler, Sylvia Eckermann

This special issue of continent. is the digital extension of the Social Glitch project. The collected writings, statements, images, videos etc. do not reproduce the art, sound and performance works presented in Vienna. Rather than a reader completing the exhibition, performances, interventions and talks, this issue devotes itself to broadening and deepening the topics and discussions around the project Bringing together exciting contemporary research, artist activism and digital artworks the compendium will grow on a rolling schedule during the next two months. Issue 4.4 will be completed on December 3, 2015.


Radical Aesthetics and the Consequences of Extreme Events

Code facilitates social practices and communication.
Code drives imaging media in science, art and architecture.
Code defines the new aesthetics of algorithmic procedures.
Code informs human and nonhuman existence by normalizing technological, legal, and political exchange. 

These discrete operations—executed in-between processes of modeling, evaluation, debugging and optimization—are, however, subject to the contingency of unexpected events. 


"Glitch"[1] is a term that denotes electric and electronic malfunctions in data flows. Against the background of a world shaped by technology and science, the term describes media-immanent flaws manifesting in image interferences, blurs and bugs, amongst others. While they display undesired problem areas in the art of engineering, their effects and artifacts have been made the material of aesthetic experiments in digital, sound, and performance art since the 1960s. 

Today, the peaks of glitches increasingly flash over, affecting various collectives. Information capitalism penetrates and molds our relations to one another, to other species, and to nature. New technological, legal, and social codes merge matter and biological life into a speculative realm in which time collapses into a future-at-present.Hybrid and volatile types of existence emerge from complex contingencies, prone to escalate into new glitches: disruptions, breaches, bubbles, manipulation, and leaks abound.

The exhibition SOCIAL GLITCH addresses the consequences of this paradigmatic shift by raising the question as to how it affects both human and nonhuman actors and victims alike. The term Social Glitch describes this provocation in terms of a historic-technological continuity of intensifying escalations. The invited artists focus on occurrences that—in a kind of negative transcendence—inscribe their actuality on social, natural, and individual biographies. Thus, they reveal central issues at stake today, be they caused by apparent defects, produced deliberately or as the result of algorithmic forms of speech. The artworks range from subversive and playful interventions to fictive and performative narratives; from speculative experiments to research-based visualizations and interpretations of factual circumstances. The common theme behind these approaches is an often activist engagement with and a radical interest in the deep horizons of the sea changes we are witnessing today, together with efforts to enhance the resolution of what we perceive in order to tackle the uncertainties, i.e. the intricate risks we are confronted with, inherent in knowledge-production, decision-making, and comprehensive participation.

SOCIAL GLITCH broadens and at the same time differentiates the aesthetics of error, which have shaped the glitch theme, in favor of an aesthetics in the field of consequences that evokes and advances concrete social and political potentials and interventions. The project examines whether art can still deliver radical responses beyond the normalizing speculations of the art market by re-orienting our perception and agency towards practices that can be described as forms of techno-cultural communism. 

Sylvia Eckermann, Gerald Nestler, and Maximilian Thoman (curators)


[1]  What’s that noise? Don’t be alarmed, the sound you hear is a piece by composer and sound artist Szely. His intervention for SOCIAL GLITCH comprises of 11 Glitch Sounds presented at the bookstore Walther Koenig at MuseumsQuartier Wien from Sept. 25 - October 11, 2015.