>> The digital arts, a realm whose entry is rather difficult due to recent saturation, has few people at the forefront. Floated’s Krit Upra was lucky enough to sit down with an artist whose work in the industry has recently nabbed global attention thanks to the power of the internet and various social media hubs that reside on it. His name is Giacomo Carmagnola. Carmagnola, a native of Italy is a college student by day and a digital artist by any other possible time. When he’s not studying, he is collaborating with other artists, as well as individually continuing his true knack: an art form that is essentially a spin on pixel sorting.
Pixel sorting, for those who are unfamiliar, is a method of altering a digital image. Through use of an algorithm that isolates horizontal or vertical lines of pixels and rearranges them based on any of their hue, saturation or luminosity, a pixel sorting artist can change pictures via software in the most awesome ways. Calculated distortion of pixels and their placement has been nicknamed glitch art, and many claim that the founder of such a medium is Kim Asendorf of Germany. Asendorf is still very active in this art form, and just so happens to be one of Carmagnola’s inspirations. Carmagnola happens to be more than just a professional meddler in pixel sorting; He has a true eye for the visual arts in the traditional sense, and is talented in combining this gift with modern tools. Below is what he had to say about his process and history of becoming a renowned glitch artist.
Krit Upra (K): In your career, how did you get to working with art or graphic art in the first place?
Giacomo Carmagnola (G): I started because I was bored. In high school I didn’t study art, I like psychology [and] philosophy; Completely different from what I study right now. I started year five school with photoshop [and] illustrator. I always liked to write and draw… My first works are only on paper. I don’t study art - I can say only that. I only take feedback from the internet and I had to create myself. Even here in Italy where there is a lot of art, I never studied it so I just tried to create myself with the help of other people… Even at my University, I only started art one time. Then I studied communication for graphics about agency corporations. All my artistic side is what I created myself.
K: A lot of people at my school [RIT] and in my major [photography/digital arts] have seen your work before.
G: I upload a climax of my shares with something credible. One of my friends had a page about classic Tumblr things - there were a lot of Facebook and Tumblr pages where people share a lot of strange things and there were a lot of people that follow them. My friend shared the one [post] of the church on fire I made… with this it started all of the shares of my work. People started following my Tumblr; It grew up. I started to do these glitch works, but at the same time, I didn’t only call them glitch. It’s more collage work with effects. I destroy [the] image, but I try to replace the [part of the] photograph with the effects.
K: How did you come up with the ideas in the first place?
Giacomo explained that he took inspiration from collage artists that would compile various different images together on print.
G: I thought - they [collage artists] only worked with paper. I thought I could make something like that, but using pixel sort. For the first time, I made a self-portrait thinking, “let’s see what I can do.” I tried to delete my eyes with pixels and this was the first time I tried using pixel sorting. After I destroyed the image, I used photoshop to clean all the parts. There are a lot of purist people who say, “You should only use the algorithm, not photoshop otherwise it’s not only the error because you are manipulating the error.” and other philosophy like this. So I don’t think they call me a glitch artist. I use glitch, but only for a part of it for the effect. Then when I add the effect, I change the color, contrast and the lights. It’s not like clicking animate on a program; I make a lot of post-production. I don’t think only “glitch artist” is a good name for what I do. One of my University friends tagged me on a photograph with the accent style of [mine]. An Italian said, “The effect has been invented by Kim Asendorf, what the fuck you want?” The effect has been created by him, but the idea to use it with a certain type of colors and other things I think have been, if I can say, one of my ideas. Kim Asendorf created [the methods of reaching] the effect, but that doesn’t mean he's the creator of everything. I could say the same about different people who started using colors on canvas.
When I made the first one [and posted it on Facebook], people said, “Interesting… what the fuck is this? Great!” So I said I could make something more particular… I started placing the pixel sorting on other photographs, for example, Madonna or [Virgin] Mary or similar things. I like old photographs because they are more creepy, there are all these granular parts.
K: Once you graduate, are you going to be looking for work in the graphic design aspect? Were you working for Vice in Italy?
G: Si [and yes]. Some of my friends work for Vice Italy. Sometimes, for example for articles, I create a collage or exclusive artworks with [pixel] sorting for Vice. It was a big break for me, but I think I like to create collaborations with other artists. It was pretty cool to be on a national paper; It’s a good sensation. I made a lot of works for them, and now we started the Vice interview with a series of people who are famous here in Italy. They asked me to create a collage for everyone [being interviewed].
Giacomo still has a bit of University to finish up, and some figuring out of his own to perform. He claims he’s a little bored with the usual song and dance of his glitch artwork, and is in a bit of an artistic identity crisis. He wishes to find new subjects and digital effects to perform on them. The current bane of his existence is, “…right now I am busy with fucking University.” Despite being a full-time college student, he has been able to release countless works through Vice, online formats and museum shows. One of the latter was a debut in a museum in Rome through a collaboration with a 3D artist. Readers can follow up with Giacomo Carmagnola’s work online at: