CalArts’ Alum Combines ‘Glitch’ Imagery and Textiles

A blanket featuring Phillip Stearns’ glitch design | Photo: Phillip Stearns

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In recent years, “glitch art”—art created through digital or analog mistakes—has become a more growing aesthetic. Artists corrupt digital code or physically manipulate electronic devices (called “circuit bending”) to create images, sound and more.

Multimedia artist Phillip Stearns (Music-IM MFA 07) is taking glitch art to a new level. Stearns is transforming his glitched-out imagery to a different medium: textiles. He has created a collection of woven and knit wall hangings and blankets with patterns generated using images taken with his short-circuited cameras.

From Stearns’ website:

These blankets are layered with irony: a digital photographic image, made with an intentionally broken (rewired) camera, is mechanically woven or knit into a photoblanket. In this project, a keepsake for cherishing one’s memories now becomes a platform for fashioning corrupted memory, the cold logic of digital systems into soft, warm blankets.

The project is related to Stearns’ tumblr blog Year of the Glitch, which is a yearlong “glitch-a-day” project that explores various manifestations (intentional and unintentional, staged and found glitches) in the form of images, animated gifs and even sound files. Stearns draws the daily art from a range of sources:  prepared digital cameras, video capture devices, electronic displays, scanners, manipulated or corrupted files, skipping CDs and disrupted digital transmissions.

“These images are not of broken things, but the unlocking of other worlds latent in the technologies with which we surround ourselves,” writes Stearns on his blog. “Part of what this project is about is approaching the familiar with fresh senses, to turn it into something that is unfamiliar.”

Stearns’ glitch textiles are proving to be popular, with his recent Kickstarter campaign raising about $8,500 above his projected goal.

Below, Stearns discusses the roots of this electronic art form in the recent PBS Off Book web series episode, The Art of Glitch.

Stearns’ textile work can be purchased via his online store.

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