Image Glitching & Sonification for Humanities Inquiry

a new mode of humanities inquiry that brings together data science & data art, image glitching & sonification investigates how computers can help us see (& hear) new aspects of visual artifacts.

Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, & Sam Hinton in photo by Kelly Hart, glitched by Digitizing Folk Music History seminar student Nathan Anderson.

The tactics of image glitching and sonification generate new questions and interpretations of visual artifacts by rearranging and remixing the sets of digital data that constitute them. The content of a photograph, for instance, can be re-heard as sound; a painting’s visual data can be rearranged in order to notice new aspects of what the original artwork presents to the viewer.

While much digital humanities scholarship embraces statistical, positivistic approaches to the evidentiary record, image glitching and sonification takes a different tack. To glitch and sonify images is to treat them as representational and to harness the ductility and mutability of computation to re-present their data in multiple ways in order to look and listen to them in various formations. Advancing the digital humanities methodology of “deformance,” image glitching and sonification defamiliarize visual materials in order to enable new perceptions of the original artifacts. New perceptions then enable fresh observations and analysis.

To pursue this work, I have bent existing tools toward glitching and sonification approaches. More recently, I have partnered with a computer scientist and a group of cross-disciplinary scholars in the arts and humanities to create an open-source application that will allow users to glitch and sonify images based on useful parameters for humanities inquiry.

Explore my ongoing image image glitching & sonification scholarship.