Sotheby's Relaunches Glitch Digital Art Sale After Representation Backlash

The "Glitch: Beyond Binary" art sale is a reboot of last month's "Glitch-ism" auction and features a more diverse roster of artists.

AccessTimeIconApr 13, 2023 at 9:35 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 13, 2023 at 9:49 p.m. UTC

Auction house Sotheby's has announced the launch of the "Glitch: Beyond Binary" art sale, a reboot of last month's "Glitch-ism" auction that faced backlash for its lack of female artist representation.

Bidding for "Glitch: Beyond Binary" will open on April 19 at 2 p.m. ET and will feature 34 lots of non-fungible tokens (NFT) from different artists involved in the "glitch art" movement. This type of art practice uses digital or analog errors to achieve disruption to a piece of art in the form of a "glitch."

"An MP3 might skip or crackle, a preview window might briefly show shards instead of an image and a website might hiccup on load and scramble its contents. While these occurrences are rarely anticipated and usually unwelcome, glitch artists may in fact intentionally provoke them," Sotheby's explains, noting that artists in this genre have often used glitches as forms of "political and identity expression."

Notably, the community of artists that engage in glitch art "do not just identify as male or female but consist of people from every gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, language, neuro-type, size, ability, class, religion, culture, subculture, political opinion, age, skill level, occupation and background," Sotheby's adds. Artists participating in the upcoming auction include XCOPY, neurocolor, Jake Osmun and more.

The diversity of glitch art is an important component of its popularity. Last month, Sotheby's quickly paused its "Glitch-ism” auction after several artists pointed out that no women were featured on its roster.

Sotheby's intends to right the wrongs of its previous sale, enlisting Dina Chang and Dawnia Darkstone, aka Letsglitchit, to co-curate the expanded group of artists for the upcoming launch.

“In co-curating Glitch: Beyond Binary, I aspired to present an eclectic ensemble of exceptional artists, each with their distinct vision and approach to the realm of glitch art," said Darkstone. "My selection process was driven by a desire to reveal the multifaceted nature of this genre, emphasizing the intricate links between digital experimentation, philosophical exploration, and the depth of human existence. Each artist's work serves as a visual enigma, urging viewers to examine and challenge the conventions that dictate our lives and our comprehension of art itself.”

The auction house has continued its expansion into digital art through its Sotheby's Metaverse platform. In February, it offered the original manuscript for “Snow Crash,” Neal Stephenson's 1992 science fiction novel that introduced the concept of "the metaverse." And last month, it held an auction featuring digital art inspired by internet memes from artists like Beeple and Luis Ponce.

Edited by Toby Leah Bochan.


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Rosie Perper

Rosie Perper was the Deputy Managing Editor for Web3 and Learn, focusing on the metaverse, NFTs, DAOs and emerging technology like VR/AR. She has previously worked across breaking news, global finance, tech, culture and business. She holds a small amount of BTC and ETH and several NFTs. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter, The Airdrop.

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