When glitches occur in the digital world, they’re a nuisance. But the work of London-based digital artist Matthew Plummer-Fernandez proves that when we introduce them into the realm of the physical, the results can be unexpectedly stunning. For his latest collection, Digital Natives, Plummer-Fernandez transformed mundane objects like teapots and detergent bottles into jagged works of art.
Plummer-Fernandez, a graduate from the Royal College of Art, uses a digital camera to make a 3-D scan of the objects, distorts them with the help of some home-brewed algorithms, and then fabricates the newly transformed pieces out of colorful resin with a 3-D printer. But where we’re typically at the mercy of the glitches we encounter in our video games and computer programs, Plummer-Fernandez’s self-built software gives him a bit of control over their effects on his work. "Different equations create different effects," he told me. "The simplest are simple multiplications to stretch an object, while more advanced formulas can twist or smooth the object, or go as far as adding new features such as spikes."
And how exactly does one command a glitch? Plummer-Fernandez says he can "control an algorithm’s effect via sliders" that he’s added to his object-editing interface. The artist’s software is even responsible for determining the subtly shifting colors of the objects—"complex gradients that would be very difficult to solve by eye," he says.
While some artists use digital tools with the aim of creating perfect works of art—pieces that hide all the blemishes of the messy artistic process—Plummer-Fernandez embraces that process and whatever fingerprints it leaves along the way. Our digital lives are messier than we might think, he points out. "When changing file format, or file-sharing, information sometimes gets corrupted," he told me. "I liken this to a postcard arriving to its destination marked with stamps and creases. I find it adds aesthetic value, so I embrace the glitches and provoke them to occur."
"The physicality of digital glitches is part of digital fabrication," he continued. "Fabbers need to spend less time struggling with its limitations and more time appreciating it." Although that’s probably a little bit easier to say when you’ve got a bunch of sliders for controlling the glitches in the first place.
[Hat tip: Creative Applications]