Flaherty Curatorial Statement by Laura Marks: VJ Um Amel’s algorithmically manipulated images are like movies that compress the time of the event and the time of computation into stills. Using the R-Shief analytics system to find images frequently posted on social media, she expresses the intensity of their circulation by digitally intensifying the image. VJ Um Amel, using Processing and other software to laboriously glitch digital images, slows down highly circulation images and brings out latent events. Glitch may do violence to the surface of the image, but it makes it possible to see more, by questioning the source, revealing the material support of the digital ether, and suggesting how images are recomposed in circulation.
Volcano in Chile
These works are based on the eruption of Chile’s Calbuco volcano collapse space and time, suggesting that a major event in the world affects every place, even far away.
Yemen on Fire
Glitch renders the horrific effects of the Saudi-led bombing of Sana’a in South Yemen opulently ornamental, the golden haze of smoke and fire against black, the bright spots of explosions. It asks a viewer to feel the disjunction between the terrible destruction and its visual fascination for watchers from outside.
The glitched image of destroyed homes induces a simultaneous intimacy and abstraction. The glitched image is layered with the texture of a rich fabric on the rubble.
Boys on the Beach
The well-known, terrible still shows the Bake boys fleeing on the beach in Gaza on July 16, 2014, moments before an Israeli strike killed them. It is also the basis of VJ Um Amel’s work Gaza Audio-Visual Narrative by a Cyborg: Images by Hashtag (2014). A protective covering of flitch half-obscures the figures of the running boys. Below them arise some of the thousands of Twitter posts responding to the killing. Does glitch dematerialize or rematerialize this picture? I think it does both, pushing our eyes away from the heartbreaking image of the children and drawing our the real networks of people who act in their memory.