Circuit-bent jigsaw

Geraint Edwards | Circuit-bent jigsaw | live stream of performance every Friday from 6th February to 13th March at geraintedwards.com

I am interested in examining the interplay between digital and traditional, “physical” media, and how these worlds sometimes bounce back and forth.  A good example is how a traditional-media concept such as the zoetrope or the flip-book-style animation found a new life as the animated gif in the digital world, only to be reincarnated once again in the non-digital world as the giphoscope: a physical, hand-powered representation of a 24-frame animated gif.  Eva and Franco Mattes highlighted this circular relationship with Catt (2010), taking a random image from an internet message board, creating a physical sculpture from the image and placing it in a gallery, falsely attributed to Maurizio Cattelan.  An image of the fabricated sculpture soon appeared online, sparking another meme.  My residency sits amongst these attempts to explore and exploit this conversation between digital and traditional media.

Whilst the majority of digital art arguably has aesthetic concerns as its focus, I am more interested in the processes involved, and am therefore drawn to glitch art.  However, even glitch art, which focuses on digitally corrupting image generation, usually has aesthetics at its heart in that the artist will usually keep altering the system until a satisfactory or appealing image is found; they choose which images to display and which to discard.  In this way, a great deal of glitch art can be seen as an aesthetic representation of a “glitched” process, but cannot be said to be truly a glitch in conceptual terms.  Glitches are by their very nature unpredictable, and unachievable with forethought (the attempt to stage a glitch means it is no longer truly a glitch).

For this reason, the area which I have chosen to investigate is the related field of circuit-bending: the practice of dismantling electronic equipment (more often than not, old electronic toys) and corrupting their circuitry in order to achieve unpredictable and randomised results (sonic and/or visual).  I intend to take this culture of experimental modification out of its digital context and re-apply it to a traditional medium.

I have decided to use an archetypal traditional toy, the jigsaw, as the medium through which to explore this process.  Its pieces can be seen as representing pixels in a regular, grid-based image, which can be manipulated or randomised in an echo of the glitching process.  In keeping with the conceptual framework of boardgames and traditional toys, the randomisation will be provided by a six-sided die.

This non-digital reflection of the circuit-bending process will involve six different 1000-piece jigsaws, all cut to the same pattern, so that one piece may be taken from one jigsaw and placed into another in its corresponding position.  A new, unique jigsaw will be generated by throwing the die, which selects one of the six jigsaws, and by adding the corresponding piece/pixel to the new jigsaw.  This process will continue until six unique jigsaws have been created.  To ensure authenticity, these will all be commercially-available jigsaws, mirroring the circuit-bending practice of using conventional, everyday electronic toys.

Effectively, I will be circuit-bending or corrupting the system of the regular, understood way of doing a jigsaw, randomising each pixel (or jigsaw piece) within the parameters of the possible pieces (or palette colours) available.  I will play the part of the corrupted circuit, obeying the whims of the rerouted, randomised system, i.e. the die.  The finished images will visually represent glitches, though as discussed, will not be conceptual glitches.  This process of system-modification, however, can be seen conceptually as circuit-bent; a portrait of a process.

The process will be performed once a week on Fridays over a six-week period and will be streamed online at geraintedwards.com. The six completed jigsaws will be on display and for sale for the final two weeks of the residency

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Circui Bent Jigsaw