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By John Michael Boling

Silver (2006) - Takeshi Murata
(Murata used this same pixel bleeding effect in his 2005 piece Monster Movie)

umbrella zombie datamosh mistake (2007) - Paper Rad & Paul B. Davis

These Murata and Paper Rad/Davis videos are two early examples of manipulating digital compression to produce pixel bleeding for artistic effect. In the last week, two mainstream music videos have been released by Chairlift and Kanye West that use this effect, and it has come to be known as "datamoshing." Heralded as a brand new innovation by some, the near simultaneous release of these two music videos have fans of each musical act crying foul. But, as the two videos above indicate, these techniques have been in circulation for a number of years now. It seems an argument concerning the origin of "datamoshing" is unnecessary, given that almost everything is built upon something else.

If you know of other examples of this technique please post them in the comment section.

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seecoy 6 years, 9 months agoReply

has writeup by creators of Kanye vid as well as list of their acknowledged influences & general discussion of technique

preburned 6 years, 9 months agoReply

I'm interested in the process by which the key- and delta-frames are edited. A commenter in seecoy's link mentions two programs (VirtualDub and AVIedit, both for Windows) that allow you to see and delete keyframes. Are there Mac applications that allow this kind of codec control? Other apps Rhizomers can recommend?

Artie Vierkant 6 years, 9 months agoReply

Nicholas Salvatore does a lot of datamoshing work. Largely with pornography (he talks about compression glitches being "the crinkles and folds in the porno rag" for this generation.


He's also used it for portraiture:


John Backstrom 6 years, 9 months agoReply

I've been making large scale digital prints using this technique for the past couple of months. I wasn't sure what to think after I saw the Kanye video… now it's in the mainstream. After some discussion w/ peers, I don't believe this is a setback, but merely a new context for my own work. I have posted some of the images I've been working with on my tumblr: http://weedracecars.tumblr.com/page/11

Nathan Selikoff 6 years, 9 months agoReply

This reminded me of a blog post from early last year… Don Relyea posted some Ready Made Glitch Art, as well as a link to the Glitch Art flickr pool.

goody 6 years, 9 months agoReply

Takes a moment to get there but…:


don relyea 6 years, 9 months agoReply

If you are not afraid of hex then xvi32 hex editor is fun for this sort of thing and you can batch automate it as well. You just have to be careful you do not corrupt your frames so massively that they will not open any more =)

Links to software and example output:

I put together a playlist of similar videos people posted to youtube ( last year ) as well.

Since then I figured out how to get my set top box to do this to tv signals on demand. I have also figured out how to capture it at high resolution as well but I have not done anything with the high res files yet, although I was planning on making a music video with it, lol.

Michael Szpakowski 6 years, 9 months agoReply

I made this in Oct/Nov 2003:


no sophisticated procedures, just messing around with very low quality & data rate settings.
It occurs to me that a lot of us who have been obsessing about video on the net since before it was fashionable came across of good many of these sorts of things as a by product of learning-on-the-job without a lot of precedent to guide us, plus the need to compress for the large number who were then still on dial up (remember 5k.org?)

This piece, from early 2006, benefitted from a compression glitch which generated the rather lovely colour:


Michael Szpakowski 6 years, 9 months agoReply

a bill miller 6 years, 9 months agoReply

At this point does it really matter what happened first? I don't really care who does something first anymore… just who takes something in an interesting direction.
its like posting "first post" or something

besides, with digital TV, the distorted pixel video image has changed a lot…. cause it happens as you watch.
It looks cool to me, but then is that it? It so normal that I'm sure a lot of people don't even notice or think about it too much.
don't know yet.

+ I really like Murata's work because it isn't necessarily just about processing video to make it look like an error/mistake, but more to mis-use video processing in order to create something else… something in between video and data painting.
I'm sure everybody knows more about this than me, so I'll step out now, but those are my ten cents

Tom Moody 6 years, 9 months agoReply

Hi, John Michael,
Question about the title of the Paul B. Davis/Paper Rad piece: on YouTube it says "Umbrella Zombie Mistake" but here you are calling it "Umbrella Zombie Datamosh Mistake." Where did you find the revised title?

Davis posted some of his code (with amusing comments) in a PDF for an exhibition called "Structures Found/Structures Lost." He also has some commentary about recycling pop culture. He talks about the *content* of the datamosh (although he doesn't use the word datamosh) and questions the role (and sufficiency) of the artist-as-editor.


That you are calling the Davis/Rad and Murata "two early examples" when they preceded the West vid by a year or two shows the futility of basing one's art on an effect. Of the two examples you've given, the Murata is the weaker for that reason. Once the wow factor is past it's just old movies (or whatever) set to spooky festival music.

Best, Tom

Brian Droitcour 6 years, 9 months agoReply

Beyond the wow factor, I think Murata's work says something interesting about the conventions of the moving image. He uses the pixel bleed to slow down time, or make its passage visible. I wrote about that aspect of his work here:

John Michael Boling 6 years, 9 months agoReply


When I posted this, "Umbrella Zombie Datamosh Mistake" was the title on the YouTube page. I assume Paper Rad felt uncomfortable with their term being co-opted to describe that "effect" and decided to erase the trace of its lineage.

I chose to feature "Silver" on the blog because of the date it was created, however, I prefer his use of the pixel bleed in Untitled (Pink Dot) – > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d87FaWdj3L0

Thanks for linking to Davis's PDF's!

Nick Briz 6 years, 9 months agoReply

I don’t think the small time gap between the “early” work and the Kanye West video is a result of “basing one's art on an effect” but rather more a product of digital art’s modus operandi. It’s hard to ignore the way the internet and new media affect the speed of any given artistic movements course, things jump from the underground to the mainstream with out ever having really integrating itself into popular culture.

As for this being an “effect” I will also have to disagree. The Datamoshing technique is a sort of subset to Glitch Art (see Iman Moradi’s dissertation (Glitch Aesthetics, 2004) http://www.oculasm.org/glitch/download/Glitch\_dissertation\_print\_with\_pics.pdf ) which has been around sense the turn of the century and is a lot more than just an “effect.”

“Glitching is a process of creating work that raises awareness of the means by which we
communicate and ultimately exteriorize thought. It is an attempt to integrate the nebula of video with a concrete process of interpretation and injunction, thereby incorporating the properties of a medium into the narrative of its content. At very least, glitch-art functions as a reminder that the technology of digital production and information theory remains as an inexorable collaborator in all works of digital propagation and therefore should be treated as significant.” - Evan Meaney (on glitching, 2008)

The glitches in Kanye’s video is an “effect,” a digital gimmick used in an attempt to add innovative visuals to his otherwise mediocre hip-hop. It is an exploitation of style without considering the role Glitch plays in the relationship between society and digital media as well as ignoring any call to real experimentation and exploration into the nature of the medium. The works by artists like Takeshi Murata, Evan Meaney, Karl Klomp, Corey Arcangel, Ant Scott, Jon Satrom, JODI, LoVid, and many more (including myself) is on a very different plane from the Kanye video.

Some of my work:

Millie Niss 6 years, 9 months agoReply

The amanda piece is beautuful. Were all the color effects in the piece caused by the glitch or just the pixellation which appears in the middle?

In general, accidents are a great source of inspiration in art (one hears this all the time in the context of watercolors, oils, carved sculptures, etc.) where one gets an idea from an accident or mistake or else having to fix something unexpected generates new ideas. (In the way constraints make it easier not harder to come up with new ideas, a la oulipo or more mundanely where designers prefer very specific picky design briefs because the constraints make it easier to find an idea. The worst possible design brief is "feel free to do anything you like"…)

Some people worry that digital processes eliminate the possibility for serendipitous errors (these are the people who have the silly idea that computers are error free) but I find that there is so much that can go wrong with computers that digital work gives even more opportunity to profit from things going wrong.


Michael Szpakowski 6 years, 9 months agoReply

Hi Millie
I think what happened was I was messing around with the compression and some totally unrelated colours appeared ( this seems to happen at the lowest end of Sorenson 3), which I then ran with - I remember lots of cutting and pasting.
I *was* deliberately seeking out a kind of lo-fi quality - hence the fairly small base of clips and the rather random cutting, but the effect itself came as a pleasant surprise.
I totally agree about the creative use of error. It's worth reading the motionographer link from the first reply in this thread - I found it both technically fascinating and aesthetically very depressing - it's as if ( especially in the commerce led arena of the music video) every glitch has to be *tamed*, rendered predictable and furthermore, as a couple of other folk have bemoaned here, that the domesticated glitch itself *as technique* then becomes the subject matter ( I'm not saying this should never happen -there's a perfectly respectable genre of 'the study', just that 9/10 times the result is as dull as one would expect)

Tom Moody 6 years, 9 months agoReply

I like what's going on in the Chairlift and Kanye West vids on a wow factor level and maybe slightly beyond that and find it somewhat amusing that Nick Briz has to declare them on a different (i.e., lower) plane than the glitch academy's. He even disses West's rather pretty song.

I believe all these statements from Brian Droitcour about Murata's work also apply to West/Chairlift:

–[the work] says something interesting about the conventions of the moving image. [it] uses the pixel bleed to slow down time, or make its passage visible

–A radical deceleration … lets the viewer deliberate on the temporal construction of each gesture

–bursts of violence leave digital footprints as the action moves messily across the screen

I like the Davis/Paper Rad best of what I've seen because there is wit in the choices of appropriated subject matter and how they rub up against each other. The groovy effect navigates among genres–Hiphop and Rock but also Music Vid vs Glitch School. West and Chairlift can't escape the conventions they work in. Glitch school artists are also slaves to the academic conventions that nurture them–drony music, minimal presentation and an air of high toned seriousness. I like many of the artists Briz mentions but they don't get an automatic walk just because they're "higher" than a paid art director.

I think it's a riot that Kanye has to post a notice taking up permanent screen space on his YouTube telling his fans that there's nothing wrong with the video and could they please just comment on the song?

Nick Briz 6 years, 9 months agoReply

I said different not lower. This isn’t about high art vs low art. It’s not that the artists I mentioned are “higher” but rather that they’re just more interesting and are not marketing devices. Just to set the record straight I like the chairlift video (at least for the “wow” factor) the Kanye video just strikes a wrong chord, but perhaps I have my biases.

“West and Chairlift can't escape the conventions they work in.”


“Glitch school artists are also slaves to the academic conventions that nurture them–drony music, minimal presentation and an air of high toned seriousness”

This just isn’t true. Many of the artists I mentioned work outside these “academic conventions.” Karl Klomp’s collaborations with toktek are anything but drony and I’m not sure if “high toned seriousness” would be the best way to describe Corey Arcangel’s work either. Their freedom from conventions is one of their best assets.

Brian Droitcour 6 years, 8 months agoReply

Tom, I don't agree that my statements about Murata would also apply to the other three videos we're discussing. Especially the one about the "radical deceleration," since that's in reference to Timewarp Experiments, a work that doesn't use the pixel bleed effect.

The other two might apply to Kanye. When I watched the Kanye video I thought the director also saw the effect's potential to evoke time's passage and used it to visualize introspection, in an attempt to add some depth to an otherwise insipid song. (“his daughter’s got a new report card/ I got a new sports car”? N-word please.) But in Untitled (Pink Dot) Murata uses Rambo because he's a shortcut signifier of dynamic action, and he uses "drony" music and minimal abstract animation because they're static, and the work as a whole is about the tension between those qualities. Kanye's video is about Kanye and nothing else. The visual effects and their psychological associations are backdrops for the Kanye show.

I think the Paper Rad/Davis video is about something else entirely. The Rihanna vs. Cranberries match is like the famous Cristina Aguilera/ Strokes mashup (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShPPbT3svAw), but it uses the pixel bleed as a more striking way than regular old montage to illustrate the songs' overlap (and then the shifts to the weird YouTube videos). So I wouldn't say it has much to do with temporality. Maybe it's more like a visualization of the brain trying to catch up with eyes and ears as they flip through different media.

In the Chairlift video the pixel bleed just comes off as gimmicky eye-candy.

R. Doerig 6 years, 8 months agoReply

Teenagers and grown-ups around the world have enjoyed/hated these glitches for years in the highly compressed movie files they downloaded from p2p networks…

!Mediengruppe Bitnik and Sven König did an interesting project based on this connection between glitch/file sharing/copyright/authorship that goes beyond the use of the glitch as a visual effect:

It's based on König's 2006 project aPpRoPiRaTe!

R. Doerig 6 years, 6 months agoReply

I forgot to mention Tatjana Marusic, who used compression artefacts in her videos in 2003/04.
Won many prizes and was quite often exhibited (in my little corner of the world).

Tom Moody 6 years, 8 months agoReply

The data mushing in the Kanye video does more than "add some depth to an otherwise insipid song" and I think it's more than just "making the passage of time visible." Unlike Murata, whose work is mainly about the visuals, West is a musician who has pushed technology in his newest songs, using current studio software to create a vibe of cyborg anomie, a numbed response to the pain and loss in his lyrics. As Simon Reynolds noted in his Salon review, "[AutoTune is typically] used to create a kind of cyber-melisma effect, a fluttery vocal sound simultaneously evocative of angelic purity and a lovelorn robot. West has made [it] his own…by adding extra effects like distortion that push the sound to the edge of pain… t's not just the vocals that are interfered with: Almost the album's entire sound palette is distorted." Paradoxically, believes Reynolds, "West's cold and dehumanized sounds, which could have served as a mask, instead allow us to see right through him."

The data mushing is a visual expression of this posthuman persona - the rapper following some machine-like drive to succeed, separating him from normal relations with girlfriends and family. In both the treated sounds and the deranged visuals, he is lost in a haze of machine noise, unstuck in time and space.

Given that the visuals are no more or less interesting than the Murata, I prefer the West video because at least you get a cool song.

Ramsay Stirling II 6 years, 8 months agoReply

I really don't care about this whole huzzah over the use of compression artifacts, but this seems ever so pertinent:


Tom Moody 6 years, 8 months agoReply

Ramsay, that is on point. Here's the indifferent statement you indifferently linked to, for the record. It is masterful deflection of criticism with phrases such as "it was obvious" and "it's not a big deal":

>>David O'Reilly: I’m obligated to write a post about all this nonsense relating to using compression in video work, I’ve received many messages claiming I’ve been ripped off and asking how to get the effect.

First of all, datamoshing is an extremely lame title for the effect, it’s another attempt at branding a basic technique as something new and edgy, there really is nothing hardcore about removing keyframes from a video file. The title is and always has been using compression artefacts.

While I did what was probably the first intentional transition using compression back in early 2005, I never structured my identity around it or overused it. It was obvious it would eventually hit mainstream and join the ranks of interesting effects which become embarrassing after they’re easy to do (posterize, glow, van-gogh, mosaic etc). My goal aesthetically has always been the more broader aim of simply not hiding the artefacts of software, the same way Bacon didn’t hide paint strokes, that includes compression but about 1000 other things. It’s not a big deal that it’s now mainstream.

The only criticism for the recent, popularized versions of the effect is that it’s being stuck on to a normal performance, when the music or content doesn’t remotely call for it. I don’t believe any form of cinema should be about cherry picking new effects, aesthetics should always serve the content.

Michael Szpakowski 6 years, 7 months agoReply


the spring rain getting into my Kodak Zi6, I think.

R. Doerig 6 years, 6 months agoReply

Oh, how could I forget to mention Tatjana Marusic, who did some very nice work based on compression artefacts in 2003 and 2004:

R. Doerig 6 years, 6 months agoReply

Oh, how could I forget to mention Tatjana Marusic? She used compression artefacts in two of her videos in 2003 and 2004:
Pretty well known in my corner of the world and often exhibited.

R.Doerig 6 years, 6 months agoReply

Sorry for triple posting.

xcopy 3 years, 4 months agoReply

these two videos may be of interest to you guys:

The Presets - Youth In Trouble

Light Year - Moderation

also check out my tumblr: xcopy.tumblr.com
not really data moshing or glitch, but something