Exploring glitch aesthetics through the work of German artist Dario Paczula

Though new to pixel sorting and glitch arts, Dario Paczula’s work often carries a sense of motion, owing to the manner in which he “sorts” a selection of pixels within each piece.

by Manu SharmaPublished on : Jul 20, 2021

Glitch art, as a genre within digital arts practices, is relatively young. Not only that, but it also has the benefit of growing alongside evolving technology. As accessibility has improved, so too has artistic fascination with errors, either involuntary or instigated, within processes of digital interface. This, in toto, has resulted in a steadily growing community of practitioners, many of whom have paved the way for other budding glitch artists by creating relevant applications or application plugins for pre-existing software. Such methods, while helpful for those who lack sufficient programming skill or access to hardware, have led to a growing faction of artists within glitch culture that insist on separating what they see as glitch proper from glitch aesthetics. While they acknowledge that glitch techniques, i.e., the instigation of errors in both software and hardware are a method of generating the aforementioned aesthetics, they tend to relegate glitch aesthetics generated through the use of specialised plugins or applications, feeling as though these do not confirm to the ethos of the genre. This brings us to the work of Dario Paczula, a 24-year-old glitch artist based in Bremen, Germany. Paczula is a communications design student with seemingly no formal artistic training relevant to his craft. However, he found inspiration through the works of Giacomo Carmagnola, supercaelestia, polygon1993 and visualpotions, who are popular glitch artists, and would quickly take to the craft himself. His work oozes style, and even though he primarily edits static imagery, these often carry a sense of motion, owing to the manner in which he “sorts”, or, to the layman, “extends” a selection of pixels within each piece. He explains, “In terms of the motion, I try to use it to capture certain feelings such as weight and dynamics, and I use these in order to give the viewer a sense that the piece is still happening. Even though I start with a photograph, the way I use pixel sorting lets me find a way to keep it moving. I like to think that my work sometimes resembles a meteor shower or a shooting star.”

Untitled | Dario Paczula | STIRworld
An Untitled work by Dario Paczula Image: Dario Paczula

Discussing his software palette, Paczula says, “What a lot of people may not know is that I do almost everything in After Effects. The main plugin I am using is called ‘ae Pixelsorter v2‘. I only use Photoshop for the final colour corrections and to fix some of the masking, which I am not always able to do in After Effects. Some other After Effects plugins I am using are ‘Continuum’, ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Filmconvert Pro’.” He goes on to mention that his process begins with finding a base image that appeals to his aesthetic sensibilities. After this, Paczula breaks his image of choice into foreground and background, before proceeding to replace the background with an abstract texture or image that he has previously pixel sorted. Finally, he goes to work on the entire image, editing and sorting pixels as he sees fit, yet usually maintains a relatively unedited subject in the foreground which he treats as a focal point through which viewers may enter the finished piece.

Untitled | Dario Paczula | STIRworld
Untitled Image: Dario Paczula

While Paczula is relatively new to pixel sorting and the wider glitch arts scene, his freshness has not stopped him from turning heads with his stunning work. He is rising in popularity on Instagram, where he operates under the name ‘nry.ae’, and has recently even received the coveted ‘artist of the month’ on Glitch Artists Collective, which is the largest and most active group for glitch arts practices and discourse. This is certainly heartening for other glitch-hopefuls, as it means that a lack of hardware accessibility or advanced computing technique is no bar for receiving acclaim within the relevant circles. Yet, the question remains whether artistry such as Paczula’s does, in fact, subvert the core aims of the glitch movement, which, ironically enough, is itself meant to present a subversion of mainstream tastes and values, and the way they are portrayed visually.

Paczula’s work charges the once-serene with a palpable energy | Dario Paczula | STIRworld
Paczula’s work charges the once-serene with a palpable energy Image: Dario Paczula

The artist himself holds no reservations regarding the nature of his practice, and is happy to consider himself more of a glitch aesthetician, saying “It’s not directly glitch art but I like to draw upon certain elements from that style. I definitely try to make my artworks aesthetic in some way and bring in a lot of colours to my images.” And where Paczula tries, he most certainly succeeds. His work tends to transform urban scenes into vibrant collisions of colour. Within the one above, for example, what may have once been a relatively calming shot of a building by a lake is now a stunning implosion of visual data, filled with a newfound energy. While he works extensively with city scenery, the artist has a special fascination with Japanese urban environments. He explains, “Japanese culture and aesthetics have had a huge impact on my sense of design, which is also the reason why you'll find a lot of Japanese pictures on my portfolio.” Moving away from domestic vistas, Paczula’s portrayal of recognisable objects or entities that are yet more abstract still carry much the same kinetic force and dazzling visual energy. So much so, in fact, that even a quick perusal through his oeuvre is persuasion enough that, whether it be viewed within the strictest context of glitch art or not, the work on display here is certainly captivating on its own merits.

An example of Paczula’s preoccupation with Japanese aesthetics | Dario Paczula | STIRworld
An example of Paczula’s preoccupation with Japanese aesthetics Image: Dario Paczula

Paczula mentions that he has been so caught up in his evolving practice that the pandemic has not affected him very greatly. He has been working towards improving his presence and reach on Instagram as well as pushing his technique further. He has also been looking into blockchain systems and is considering putting his work up for exhibition digitally. Discussing the future, he says “For the near and foreseeable future, I would like to immerse myself more within photography and edit some of my own photos. Hopefully, as my career progresses and the pandemic ends, I can travel and do this.” It will be interesting to see how Paczula’s practice evolves in the coming years, and certainly, combining his pixel sorting technique with his own photographs may add a whole new dimension to his work. In the meantime, he has already generated a large library of compelling imagery for viewers to digest, and for many new to the genre, Paczula’s work will certainly be a welcoming look into the vibrant possibilities of glitch art.

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