Sara Cwynar's Analog Glitch Abstractions

Charlie Ambler
Jul 3, 2014 3:19PM

“Our technology forces us to live mythically.”
― Marshall McLuhan

These works by Sara Cwynar are unlike traditional glitch imagery in that they use images that appear dated. Rather than sourcing her raw materials from the internet or manipulating them in text-editing software with algorithmic code, Cwynar simply uses print images.  They range from biology-textbook banality to sexy pinup to politician-on-TV subject matter but each gives off an air of American antiquity.  They appear to be the source of the elusive Spectacle that plenty of people love to talk about but few can pin down visually. 

When I think about these images I think about my parents sitting in their cramped living rooms with all their siblings, grandpa puffing on his pipe, grandma prepping the brisket, a grainy Walter Cronkite pontificating on the day's events through a tinny speaker.  I think about the fact that millions of others were doing, with slight variation, the exact same thing, and so the images projected became illusory in this way:  they gave off a false objectivity just by virtue of their massive audience.  Everyone saw the same thing at the same time and it was contextualized by a voice heard by tens of millions of Americans simultaneously.  Things are different now, but the inherent facade of media images remains relevant as ever.  In using these old-school images for contemporary ends, Cwynar reminds us of the inherent fickle nature of imagery, especially that which is mass-produced.  The rippled spectral alterations of each image are just visual representations of the distortions that occur as concepts are transmitted to massive audiences.  

Charlie Ambler