Genius Glitch

Those Pants You Like Are Going To Come Back In Style

Happy anniversary, David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, Barbara Gaines, and everyone who worked on what was pound-for-pound the greatest late-night television show. Better than everyone. That is not to diminish anyone else’s nocturnal accomplishments. But Dave bent the aerial.

Thank you for following this extremely niche account. I created it for something to do, and as an artform. Like Marge Simpson’s Ringo Starr studies reimagined by Gerhard Richter. Or Lucy’s character in Fear & Loathing, who takes LSD and paints portraits of Barbara Streisand from the television. It started out as a hare-brained hobby and quickly evolved into a hare-brained hobby.

This account peaked, culturally, in early 2019 when it was mentioned in a very important thread on the blog Hipinion. Just like Orson Welles, we started at the top and worked our way down. Exactly like Orson Welles.

David Letterman attracted a select audience of awesome weirdos on TV. And @geniusglitch has gathered together a similarly select audience of awesome weirdos on the Internet. As Stewart McLean of Vinyl Café wrote, we’re not big but we’re small.

It is both wonderful and strange that the followers of this account have been largely kind, in a sea of negativity, throughout the Trump era and global pandemic. I think our followers are a testament to the kind spirit of David Letterman. That’s the energy that I’ve tried to bring to this project. Thank you for smiling back.

On this auspicious anniversary of Letterman’s 33 years of service to the light side, I am excited to announce that we are going away for the summer to make a Show for you to watch.

It will be a small Show. But we did, after all, graduate from Show school. In the Melman Productions spirit, we are going to put our Show heads together and Show you something.

In September, this Show will premiere from the greatest city in the world. No, not New York, Montreal. There will be clever segments, and interesting interviews, and live musical performances. We are going to laugh, too, so hopefully you will, with us, @ us.

That’s the “idea”, in the loosest sense of that word.

I’ll be your “host”, in the loosest sense of that word.

My name is Ryan Alexander, and the Show is called Genius Glitch. Our cameraperson is called Andrei Khabad. He is Russian, I am Ukrainian, we live in Canada, and we get along. So far.

Wish us luck, send us money, letters, but good vibes only please!

Thank you, David Letterman, for teaching us whatever it is we “know”, in the loosest sense of that word.

Have a safe and delightful summer, stay tuned to @geniusglitch for updates, and see you in September.


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

In 2016, I watched a lot of Letterman on YouTube. 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 several prolific uploaders—among them Don Giller, Daniel Poitras, and a user called Zschim—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: many 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. Some sprawled out in time in beautiful, deforming patterns; others lasted for only a single frame. Each one seemed to communicate something at once far removed and deeply intimate. 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: “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 exhausted pleasure—staring at the intersection of formats, of materiality and ephemerality, at history through the screen of the present—that compelled me to assemble these images.

I hope you enjoy them. Follow @geniusglitch on twitter and on instagram for more…


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