Fascinating Glitch Art, Made With A Human Canvas

Jamie Boulton discovers a unique backdrop for his Nintendo glitches: his own body.

At this point, it’s not uncommon to see glitches liberated from their natural habitats of video games and VHS tapes in one way or another. But rarely do you see those digital artifacts and the natural world juxtaposed as plainly as they are in these beautiful photographs by Jamie Boulton.


Boulton, a digital artist in Birmingham, England, captured the shots at home with a simple projector and a DSLR, using his own body as an irregular, curving canvas. He stumbled across the idea some months back, when he was projecting a glitch onto his arm to see how it might look as a tattoo. “I remembered how strange that had felt,” he says. “The light enveloping my arm felt somehow protective, as if the images were a cloth acting as a sleeve.”

He revisited the technique recently for this series of snapshots. “While making them I thought of Rick Genest, or Queequeg–the cannibal from Moby Dick with the full body tattoos,” he says. “It felt like a kind of ceremonial paint that’s seen in many cultures. Perhaps something from a post-apocalyptic survivor’s tribe. A kind of futuristic pattern.”

For the projections, Boulton combed through his personal glitch cache–a folder with some 353 gigabytes of files–to see what might work best on the irregular backdrop. Glitches culled from a Nintendo emulator happened to be especially effective–in these, Boulton’s body and the projected images have the effect of rendering each other slightly unrecognizable, creating some new liminal subject that doesn’t immediately read as purely organic or digital.

For Boulton, that defamiliarizing effect was enough to get him to show the project to others. “I hadn’t originally planned to publish the photos anywhere, but once I’d gone through them on a computer I found myself wanting to share them,” he says. “I’m naked in the photos, so they evoke a feeling of vulnerability in me … but at the same time the light felt like a cloak.”

See more of Boulton’s work here.

[Hat tip: Prosthetic Knowledge]