Critical Making/Critical Reflection:

I’ve included two of my own examples here to conclude. The first recalls pages 54-57 of Marshall McLuhan’s text, The Medium is the Massage. On these pages, McLuhan prints his text backward and upside down in order to compel the reader to rotate the book and hold it up to a reflective screen. I utilized characters from the “phonetic extensions” Unicode set, 1D00 -1D50, in order to create this effect for social media. In order to read this tweet as Twitter would intend, the reader would have to flip her screen 180°. This would also invert the flow of her Twitter feed, pushing content up rather than down, momentarily prioritizing “old” content rather than “new.”

Screen Shot 2016-09-30 at 7.22.00 AM.png

My second example demonstrates variability in Unicode rendering within the Twitter feed itself. When initially published to Twitter, the diacritical marks I’ve applied to each letter are both flat and abbreviated. When clicked, the diacritical marks expand, many of which extend well beyond the text box.


Screen Shot 2016-10-01 at 7.16.29 AM.png

I chose to glitch the word “immemorial” for two reasons. The first speaks to glitch-writing’s rhetorical force, or how this mode of composition presents an argument. The second is a visual-linguistic gesture toward concrete poetry and asemic writing. I stacked letters via their diacritical function in order to simply show how text can stretch beyond the text box, reaching into the future and past of my Twitter feed. Glitch-writing is “immemorial” in the trace of its text appearing where it should not. At the same time, glitch-writing recalls writing practices that precede it–it brings its forbears into the present (concrete poetry and asemic writing) as it also extends their gestures into new milieus.


Regardless of one’s approach, glitch-writing both complicates and clarifies the connection between writing and design. Albeit in a limited way, glitch-writing allows us to redefine the function of the text box and redesign the flow and function of the spaces in which we place our glitches. When we break Twitter, we design it differently; we make the platform communicate something other than what it was intended to communicate. The platform’s entire environment is altered by what we type. Glitch-writing doesn’t simply motivate questions concerning how text and image relate, it requires us to reflect on the function of our most dominant regimes of visualization.

Although this tutorial might be your stepping stone to glitch composition and artistry, it is also a tool for critical reflection. I would suggest that we follow a “critical making” process like that outlined by Matt Ratto and Stephen Hockema in their coauthored essay “FLWR PWR: Tending the Walled Garden” in order to conceptualize the act of glitch-writing with its rhetorical and political functions. This process is comprised of three steps: 1) literature review, 2) collaboration on the production of a prototype, and 3) reflection. This tutorial provides a robust literature review and example of analysis, but now it’s time to glitch-write. I’ve included some helpful suggestions below to get you started.

  1. While I’ve listed a number of academic and journalistic texts above, let’s look at a recent interview with Jimpunk in order to reflect on the linguistic implications of text-based glitch art. When asked questions about why Jimpunk makes text-based glitch art, the artist/writer responds in glitches, rather than in a natural language. The artist writes out responses that play with shape, line, and color, but also responses that combine multiple languages into a single communicative product. What languages does Jimpunk use? Can you decipher what the artist communicates with each response?
  2. When we write, it often seems like we write in isolation. However, digital composition is often collaborative, especially as we combine multiple forms of media into a single piece. The authors of Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projectscall this multimodal composition. All texts are multimodal, but digital composition allows us to dialogue with readers and other authors. How is glitch-writing collaborative? How does it dialogue with those who have developed and furthered the practice? Do you use other author’s glitches to help you write yours?
  3. Reflecting on the effects and possibilities of glitch-writing is perhaps the most complex task associated with the practice. Glitch-writing can attune writers and readers alike to interface history and design, critical code studies, and earlier practices like ASCII art and art-typing. If we reflect on glitch-writing as an act of composition, we are presented with a series of difficult questions, some of which are already listed above: Can we call glitch-writing language? How is code being “glitched” to produce these weird messages? How does glitch-writing reveal the limitations of the text box? What does it mean for writing and composition when we combine multiple natural languages with multiple digital languages?

Let’s go break things!


Works Cited

“Announcing  The Unicode Standard®, Version 9.0.” Unicode. 21 June, 2016.

Applegate, Matt. “Glitched in Translation.” Precarious Aesthetics 2015 Conference Proceedings (2015): n. pag. Berkeley Center for New Media. Http:// Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

—. “GLî†CHÉD IN †RAN$LA†ION: Rèading †ex† and Codè as a Plaÿ of $pacés.” Amodern. Ed. Nick Thurston.

Arola, Kristin L., Jennifer Sheppard, and Cheryl E. Ball. Writer/designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. Print.

Cascone, Kim. “The Aesthetics of Failure: ‘Post-Digital’ Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music.” Computer Music Journal. 24:4 (2002):

DeLillo, Don. “Don DeLillo, The Art of Fiction No. 135.” Interviewed by Adam Begley. The Paris Review.

Douglas, Louis. “The Diacritics of Glitchr.” Rhizome., 29 Mar. 2012. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

Electronic Literature Directory. “Individual Work: Concretoons.”

“Il’ia Zdanevich.”

“Introduction to Asemic Writing.” Calligraphy Writing. 21 Dec. 2013.

Jacobson, Michael. “On Asemic Writing.” Asymptote.

Jimpunk, and Electronic Objects Inc. “Jimpunk – Artist Interview Series.”Electric Objects., 2016. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

Johnson, Chris A. “ – ASCII ART.” – ASCII ART. Http://, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

Johnston, David (Jhave). “The Assimilation of Text by Image | Electronic Book Review.” Electronic Book Review, 7 Oct. 2012. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

“Letters with Diacritical Marks, Grouped Alphabetically.” Diacritics. Http://, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

Marino, Mark C. “Critical Code Studies.” Electronic Book Review, 4 Dec. 2006. Web Oct. 2016.

Raley, Rita. “Code.surface || Code.depth.”

Menkman, Rosa. “|| | Bitsbits Bits____________________ ///////////////ЯOSΛ MEИKMΛN~~~@~~~DIRDIRDIR A:??blogspot?____________________________________| ||.” || | Bitsbits Bits____________________ ///////////////ЯOSΛ MEИKMΛN~~~@~~~DIRDIRDIR A:??blogspot?____________________________________| ||. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

Ratto, Matt, and Stephen Hockema. “FLWR PWR: Tending the Walled Garden.” FLWR PWR – Tending the Walled Garden (n.d.): n. pag. Critical Making. Http:// Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

Sayej, Nadja. “Glitchr Is The Most Interesting Artist-Hacker On Facebook | The Creators Project.” The Creators Project. Http://, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

Smith, Patrick. “18 Tweets That Prove @Glitchr_ Is The Weirdest Thing On Twitter.” BuzzFeed. Http://, 17 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

Sterns, Phillip. “Glitch Art Resources.” Phillip Sterns. Https://, n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.

Steyerl, Hito. “Politics of Post-Representation.” With Marvin Jordan. DisMagazine

“Unicode® Character Table.” Unicode® Character Table. Http://, n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.


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