Notable Difficult Anima


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Toxic Motel, or Tomo as he would like us to call him, defines himself on his Twitter bio as a “Surreal Glitch Extremist”.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist” - Pablo Picasso.

This quote is the one that came to my mind when I first saw Tomo’s artwork; Grand Inc.She Never Saw Me Jammin is a great example for this.

In order to break something, and have it look this good, the base material you start with, has to be gorgeous too. In the same way you can’t have white without black or yes without no. While we probably won’t ever see the actual footage of She Never Saw Me Jammin we can only guess, and be mesmerized by each transition turning surreal and placing us in a different time, emotion and dimension.

This whole music video, can be classified as “Poetic Cinema”, “there is a cinema that gets moved within its own images through what is concrete and factual, as real life experience itself, reaffirming its own structural totality.” - Judith Sacal

There is a constant emotion and story being driven by not only the motions, but how everything is glitched into each other; like the back side of a hand knit sweater. The Sunrise being decimated by traffic , a Koi fish becoming a lily and blooming, the matched movements of both the ballerina, and the ocean are all like well-woven verses of a poem, waiting to be experienced. A lot of flower imagery is used throughout this composition, and it should be noted that the synchronization of the visuals with the beats are immaculate, and Tomo perfects this by adding another layer on top of them with perfectly timed glitches.

A Brief History on Glitches

I tried writing about Tomo, without doing a brief history on glitches, but I failed, because I really wanted to write about Tomo’s glitch profile. What is a glitch profile? Well, tag along to find out.

There are a couple theories as to where the term glitch comes from, the chief of them being  it comes from the German word “glitschen” which means “to slip”, and it kind of makes sense when you think about how some Analog glitches happen, by the tape the media is recorded on slipping on one of the tracks, and showing only parts of the image, or them kind of stacked on top of each other.

Glitch also happens to be a term not only used in the arts, but a term that encompasses a lot of works of area that involves computers. As  Astronaut John Glenn explains,  “another term we adopted to describe some of our problems was ‘glitch’. Literally, a glitch is a spike or change in voltage in an electrical circuit which takes place when the circuit suddenly has a new load put on it. You have probably noticed a dimming of lights in your home when you turn a switch or start the dryer or the television set. Normally, these changes in voltage are protected by fuses. A glitch, however, is such a minute change in voltage that no fuse could protect against it.”

When you are talking about video, there are lots of different glitches, like Compression glitches, data corruption, pixelation, light leaks, color degradation, pixel sorting, adding textures, removing, corrupting, replacing specific types of frames (delta frames, P-frames or I-frames), slit scanning to name a few. Tomo, is such an expert in his craft that, he uses most of these techniques, sometimes in a very subtle manner, and sometimes very in your face manner, like we see in She Never Saw Me Jammin.

Tomo’s Glitch Profile

You can see hints, motifs and essences of She Never Saw Me Jammin in Tomo’s OBJKT collection. The story in this music video is predominantly driven by the glitches, and to a larger extent to the beat and the pitch of the music.

Flowery Does Not Call Me

On the other hand when we look at Flowery Does Not Call Me there is already a surreal story taking place. The very slight maybe 10% datamosh glitches and the overlay of the glyphs the letters followed with the camera movement are just there to supplement the image. If you fixate your eyes to the clock on the floating skull, you realize that there is the illusion of time passing, and it seems like the hands of the clock are moving, but if you look really carefully, you realize that it’s not, and time is standing still, while everything else is dynamic, while we move towards the rose, ever so slowly.

Even when you look at Tomo’s  still images, like Atlantis, you can see the movement Tomo is trying to convey with his glitches. See now we get to a point where glitches are no longer just a stylistic choice, but also a way to convey a message, or a mood. A stylistic choice that has utility, if you want to talk in Twitter talk.


Tomo really likes his datamoshes. As he illustrates in his video Beauty of Destruction (which now I realize is probably for a magazine, or an art publication) but watching this I had two ideas in my mind. First one “Oh man I wish I knew some Indonesian so I could understand what he is talking about” and second “Man this guy is an amazing artist who knows his way around a paintbrush and glitches”. He demonstrates he really likes datamoshing, by literally showing us how does it, Using transitions in two different places first in what I assume to be his studio, with all of the physical art, he then turned into his OBJKT collection. The second one in a stairwell, as a transitory device showing the art, himself and people who like it. Do yourself a favour, and watch that video, even if you don’t know any Indonesian, like me, it still warmed my heart to see him interact with his art, and show us throughout his studio.

Another type of glitch Tomo uses excellently is the slit scan, which I recently saw when I watched the star gate sequence in Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. This also is the same technique that is used when Dr. Who travels through space and time. Slit scan is a type of glitch that comes from old technology and camera movements dating back to the 60s by putting a sliding slit between the subject and the photographic plane. The photographic medium under the slit would be exposed as the slit traveled from one side of the plane, to the other. You can basically do this at home, which is what Kubrick and the gang did in their studio, but there are now tools that help with this too like Adobe After Effects. As far as I understand, Tomo mixes both the old school way of doing things, with the new school, to produce the eye-catching results that he does. We see great examples of slit scanning in Dream Mapping.

Dream Mapping

Tomo and Toxic Motel have a great future amongst art because of the solid understanding of all of the basics that he feels comfortable breaking them. As technology evolves there will be more avenues to break, glitch and restitch. Meanwhile I will have my eyes on Tomo to see what he will break in the future, and how.


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