Glitching is a digital installation and performance art project that attempts to re-describe movement derived from characters in contemporary sports and action computer games.

Gaming characters of the 21st century have an extraordinary embodiment, fluidity of movement and naturalness, becoming more and more realistic and convincing, thanks to constant improvements in technology. However, there are always exceptions; disruptions, imperfections and glitches, whether through unexpected programming errors, forced “cheats” or the users’ inability to control the characters in seamless game-play. glitching re-focuses the artificial nature of these disruptions by employing highly trained real bodies i.e. professional dancers, to re-stage them. The project attempts to interrogate how real bodies cope with, and interpret into sequences of choreography, the limits of such foreign and unnatural movement and subsequently, how this physically re-enacted choreography can be embedded and re-imaged within a responsive digital environment.

Appropriating the premise of home entertainment dance and training games, glitching employs the motion-sensor controller Microsoft Xbox Kinect, large-screen display and a pseudo game interface, to create a full-body, skeletally controlled, interactive installation. The audience is invited to step into the digital shoes of a ‘lead dancer’ character, and attempt to follow the awkward and intricate, glitch choreography performed by the dancing troupe on screen. In conjunction with the installation there were a series of glitching live performances featuring dancers Tony Mills, Hannah Seignior, Felicity Beveridge, a performance soundtrack devised by Martin Parker and the interactive installation as backdrop.

Glitching was created as an artist commission, funded by the Scotland & Medicine partnership, curated by Dr Andrew Patrizio, for the exhibition Human Race: inside the history of sports medicine (with additional funding from a Creative Scotland, Visual Artist Award and Edinburgh College of Art’s Individual Research Awards). The project toured public funded museums and galleries throughout Scotland during 2012, as part of The Scottish Project, an official part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The exhibition presents historical artefacts alongside newly commissioned artworks to examine the relationship between sport, exercise and the body, with audience figures in excess of 33,000.

An extract of the work was performed as part of ‘Glitch'd: Purposeful Mistakes’ at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2013 and the work was shortlisted for the Update_5: New Technological Art Award 2014, at the Zebrastraat -Foundation Liedts-Meesen, Ghent, Belgium. Papers about the work have been presented and published at conferences including Transdisciplinary Imaging Conference 2012, Melbourne, Australia, and Physicality 2012, at British HCI 2012.

Glitching – blog

Glitching interface

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Photography by Chris Scott & Louise Blamire