Tribute

There is no off position on the genius glitch: loving a disappearing Dave

In 2016, I watched a lot of Letterman on YouTube. It kept me sane. It rooted and reminded me that the more things change, the more they stay the same. (Dave’s 20-year-old jokes about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could have been pasted from today’s headlines.) And thanks to two prolific uploadersā€”Daniel Poitras and Zschimā€”there is a wealth of shows to view from across the NBC and CBS years.

Embedded within these episodes, I began to notice interesting glitches: some were due to videotape malfunctions, others from some sort of encoding incompatibility. Still more were an indistinguishable combination of the two. I began collecting these as screen shots.

Quickly, I started to love cataloguing these images. Some were easier to grab than others: many sprawled out in time in beautiful deforming patterns, while others lasted for only a single frame. Each one seems to communicate something at once deeply intimate and far removed. Some are pure data. All of them are goofy.

In her essay entitled Loving A Disappearing Image, the author and professor Laura U. Marks writes:Ā “Faded films, decaying videotapes, projected videos that flaunt their tenuous connection to the reality they index, all appeal to a look of love and loss.”

Writing on dupe aesthetics, the film scholar Lucas Hilderbrand says that each successive iteration of bootlegged media is “an illicit object, a forbidden pleasure watched and shared and loved to exhaustion.”

I suppose it was this forbidden pleasureā€”staring at the intersection of formats, of materiality and ephemerality, at history through the screen of the presentā€”that compelled me to assemble these images.

I hope you enjoy them.

 

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