Breaking up

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This video will self-destruct in 4 minutes and 4 seconds. That’s the time it takes the Calvin Harris music video „My Way“ directed by Emil Nava, to evaporate in a storm of glitches, both digital and natural.
As commentators have argued, Harris’ song may well be understood as hinting at the break-up between the artist and his former girlfriend singer Taylor Swift. The self-destroying imagery of Navas video thus may be read as a metaphor, taking the process of breaking-up literally, turning it into aesthetic concept: Till glitches do us part. More interestingly however, the unstable imagery of Nava’s video not only stands for those small incidents and irritations which will eventually lead to the end of any relationship, but rather reflect on the properties of the electronic medium as such. Picking up on Yvonne Spielmann’s notion of video as the „self-reflexive medium“ whose visuals „can properly be described as image only if we keep in mind that the electronic image is a constantly moving flow of signals“ the disfiguring glitches in Nava’s video are nothing but  figurations of the mediums own transformative qualities. „Because of its flexible, nonfixed, and unstable structure, video is an easy tool to adapt to all different kinds of media. […] And because it cannot have many features of its own, it does not constitute a real medium, but rather holds the position of an intermediary state, somewhere on the continuum between analogue and digital computers.“ This continuum between analogue and digital is also the realm of the glitch, as symptom both of hard- as well as software disfunction. And while the stupendous visual effects in „My Way“ may all be the result of digital wizardry, the video presents these as a mere continuation of those glitch-effects for which no computer is needed: a flicker of sunlight between the leaves blinding us, sand whirling up behind a car, a twitching hand  hidden underneath the table.

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Is it, that through being confronted with digital glitches, we begin to see those little incidences all around us as natural glitches? Or are we fascinated by the instabilities of digital imagery because we re-encounter something in them, we already know so well? In any case, what glitches are breaking up, is ultimately the false distinction between the natural and the digital. They affect us, both virtually and viscerally, putting us in the intermediary state video is said to occupy.

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