Scripted Bends

Recently there’s been a trend amongst glitch artists to do more video glitches. I’ve been pretty quiet on that front whilst I work on my techniques. Here’s the first results of my experiments using Chris Cunningham‘s short film Rubber Johnny as a test subject

Just from these tests I can see the opportunities that using video presents, especially when using audio. I can definitely see more of my work being like this

Create your own glitch typeface

Making Dataface was really quite an exciting journey. What started off as an attempt to make a typeface inspired by glitch art turned out to be a story of collaboration, exploration and hours of research. Here, I will go through my process.

As you may have seen from my previous experiments in vector databending it’s totally possible to manipulate vector files. My original method for creating Dataface was to save each glyph in the Liberation font to an SVG file and then go through the process of glitching it for each file. Obviously this would’ve taken me a long time, hence why there was very little activity between my original announcement in January and when I started work on it again a few weeks ago.

At this time I thought about writing a script to do this for me. sed is a great command-line utility for Linux that essentially does the same as using find/replace on a character. As it’s command-line it means I can do a lot of automation with it. So, I wrote this simple script that attempted to solve the problem

rand=$(($RANDOM % 9))
sed -i s/[0-9]/$rand/g fontfile.svg

The only problem was that it would replace all numbers in the file with whatever random value was chosen by $rand as the script was executed. Not only is this bad because it would result in a lot of strangely similar glyphs but also because it would modify the header data of the font file, thus rendering it unreadable. I soon remembered that recently the SVG Font specification was finished, which aided my cause by putting all of the glyphs in one big file, but I still couldn’t find a way to efficiently randomise values in the file.

Thankfully fizzPOP came to my rescue. I’m glad that hackerspaces have people with a range of abilities in hardware and software, as I was soon presented with a solution to my problem by GB. After a few revisions he created a script that would replace only specific values in the file and wold even let you specify how much it should be randomised. You can download the finished script and source files and have a go for yourself.

Click to download


Simplified instructions on compiling the script:

  • Unzip the file in a clean folder. This will give you three files:Font_Sample_-_Liberation_Sans.svg, glitch.l and makefile
  • Type “make” into the command line (without the quote)
  • If you haven’t got make, type:
    flex -t glitch.l >glitch.c
    gcc -o glitch glitch.c

in either case, you will get a program called “glitch”.

Please note this has only been tested on Linux, requires Flex (available in the Ubuntu repository) and it is designed to work on SVG font files. I only know FontForge that is able to create these fonts files. To run the script do the following

./glitch 0.50 outputfile.svg

That tells the script to glitch the file by 50%. I have noticed that sometimes you get errors if you put in 1.00 or more.

Once you have generated the file you can import it back into FontForge to save as a .ttf, .otf or whatever font type you choose!

(I still hate Comic Sans)

Here’s everyone’s favourite Comic Sans glitched at 50%

When I Saw Pavement

All the way back in May I went to see a band called Pavement. About two months later I finally finished off a mini zine documenting parts of my time there.

If you know your way around jpdftweak or other imposition software you can even combine it into a rather awesome poster!

Speaking of zines, I’m helping to organise the Birmingham Zine Festival that’ll be taking place in September. If you make zines you should get in contact through that website.

The Long And Winding Road

The Long And Winding Road is a response to The Beatles’s decision to not release their music in a digital format. In 2006 history was set when Gnarls Barkley’s single, Crazy, became the first ever single to get to #1 on downloads alone. This is a trend set only to get more popular as CD sales continue to decline against digital downloads rising. The Beatles catalogue of music is only available on CD or vinyl, despite their last material to be released being in 1970. Aside from a very limited edition $279 USB stick featuring their discography no other legal digital copies exist.

The song The Long and Winding Road, the last single to be released from The Beatles final album, Let It Be, marks the end of on era and the beginning of another, in which fans are left waiting for the day they can legally obtain a digital copy of their music online.

This resistance to digitisation is not something new. The album version of The Long and Winding Road, which features unauthorised post-production was cited by Paul McCartney as one of the six reasons why The Beatles disbanded. There is also speculation as to why their music has not been made available online, with McCartney/Starr and their record company batting the blame back and forth. Regardless of blame or reason, it is only the fans who are at loss.

Here, I present digitised version of the song, taken from a scan of the sheet music from the Top Pops 6 song book collection from 1971 and attempt to interpret their music in a digital form. The process of digitising this work involved scanning the sheet music and using audio software to convert the scanning into audio. This, therefore, is the closest digital reproduction that I can make without having access to the original recordings.