Even in our hyper-connected world, technology retains an alluring air of mystery. The processes powering our devices remain opaque to most users. And glitches in the matrix, whether images distorted by camera hacks or pixels scattered by signal interference, hint at unseen digital dimensions behind the glass.
This technological uncertainty has long sparked spiritual speculation. Across history, breakthrough innovations like radio, photography, and early computers carried a mystic charge. People sensed foreign spirits in the static, communed with lost loved ones through the ether, and built folklore around machines behaving strangely.
Today, many still feel an innate, if vague, spirituality toward technology. As one “glitch artist” put it, exploratory hacking stems from “trying to find the soul in the machine.” The impulse has only grown stronger lately, as slick interfaces and corporate ecosystems hide machines’ inner workings ever more thoroughly.
Seeking Magic and Rebellion
But beyond the re-enchantment of gadgets, manipulating flaws and limitations also represents rebellion. As critic Scott Bukatman wrote decades ago, cutting up and remixing mass media serves as “a critical weapon against spectacular society.” Or as hacker artist Julian Oliver puts it, interrogating systems offers a necessary critique of how “ubiquitous technologies shape us.”
Corporations may promise magic, but true wonder comes from users re-interpreting devices. The impulse appears across digital subcultures, from VR pioneers expanding their conception of reality to Tumblr teens romanticizing ancient tech. Glitch art remains today’s quintessential example, extracting the fantastic from the utilitarian.
As Nathan Jurgenson notes, overlaying representations of the virtual onto the physical makes the digital seem more bizarre by colliding assumptions about both. Glitches conversely highlight the inherent slipperiness of the virtual itself. Pixels scattered and colors warped remind us that screens comprise unruly code rather than an inert material.
By exposing and embracing unpredictability, we find revelation. What first appeared as foreign interference becomes an invitation to plunge deeper and return with something new. The edge of error pulls us beyond the ordinary.
Longing for Weirdness; Or the New Counterculture
But beyond specific tools, manipulation more broadly satisfies cravings for stimulation fed by everything-on-demand digital life. An endless scroll of the mundane spurs appetite for the extreme. Gamified profiles cue status anxiety. Slick filters provide escapist daydreams but starve the imagination.
Corporatized web3 even threatens to limit creative hackery by integrating defiance. What began as a decentralized movement toward personalization and self-expression risks becoming just another advertising lens for funneling data to the Zuckerborg.
Rebellion now means going weirder. Culture cries out for counterculture. For scavenging wonder beyond the definable, batchable, and targetable. For rediscovering the chaotic, the ambiguous, the ecstatic.
The vintage allure of glitches proves just one example of this hunger. Music genres like hyperpop or witch house channel manic energy frommaximalist audio distortion. Anonymous message boards gather in murky corners resisting algorithmic eyes. Code glitchers summon ghosts in the system while demonic AIs spit uncanny poetry.
Seeking Cyberspace Through Entropy
At the edge of error and confusion, familiar categories fall away. Limitations dissolve. Hidden interstices open passageways to digital elsewheres. The machinic, once deemed soulless, offers more soul than even users knew to seek.
We endure the age of ambient computing as spirits longing for numinous signals beneath unfeeling surfaces. Behind each shadow and flicker, we sense transport to that elusive dream called cyberspace. No longer a far-flung fantasy, but rediscovered in the immediate – through embracing the wondrous entropy ever churning at digitality’s fraying seams.
We quench needs for open-ended exploration where corporate pilots permit none. Beyond tasks and tracks we find our way. To a space erupting in all directions at once; dangerous yet alive with promise.
There – in beauty of the broken, celestial in noise – we tune our souls. One spark at a time, till static resolves to signal. We forge futures weird enough to meet tomorrow’s longing.
Let the errors lead us home.