Glitches, formally artifacts of errors in electronic transmission like CD stutters or dead pixels, interrupt communication and distract audiences without wrecking the systems they occur in. Permanent irritants, they operate as irruptions of difference into the indifferent flux of commodity exchange. They reveal the exclusions, notably of noise, that enable rational communication, and the underpinning dependence of ostensibly unique items in semantic chains on their mutual indifference. Glitches are symbols whose nonhuman labor reveals the limits of humanism.
Sean Cubitt is professor of film and television at Goldsmiths, University of London, and honorary professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne. His most recent books are The Practice of Light: A Genealogy of Visual Technologies (2014) and Finite Media: Environmental Implications of Digital Technologies (2016). He is the series editor for Leonardo Books at MIT Press.