Parsons Paris

reFrag: Glitch


reFrag: is a symposium exploring new connections between art, culture and technology.

reFrag: glitch gathers together artists working in the international networks of Glitch Art for 4 days of intensive workshops, talks and performances with exhibitions in Paris and online. Glitches occur in our identity (de/re)constuctions; instabilities and errors in digitized financial markets (i.e. flash crashes); hacking, cracking and tactical glitches. During the festival reFrag: glitch will explore the multifold ways in which glitches manifest and/or are mobilized artistically in our lives.

This first symposium is a group effort between Parsons Paris and the SAIC. The project was initiated by Benjamin Gaulon, Program Director of the MFA Design+Technology and BFA Art, Media and Technology at Parsons Paris. The Paris Team is also composed of Nicolas MaigretMarie LechnerAlison CareyIvan Twohig and Shawné Michaelain Holloway, and the Chicago Team is composed of Jon CatesNick Britz and Jon Satrom. The work of many students from both institutions will be presented as well. The exhibition continues at Parsons Paris until April 5th.

reFrag Glitch :: March 19-22 :: Paris, FRANCE ::#reFrag


Interview with Benjamin Gaulon, Program Director of the MFA Design+Technology and BFA Art, Media and Technology at Parsons Paris.

What exactly is “refrag” and what is glitch art?
In the maintenance of file systems, defragmentation is a process that reduces the amount of fragmentation. So reFrag, could be read as a re-fragmentation process, before a defragmentation. An exploration  / expansion a field during 4 days of intensive activities.

Glitch is a malfunction in a system, it can be compared to a bug, accident. The accident, or its artefact, can reveal a system at play. This strategy, or tactic, is used by artists in various ways from audio-visual performances, installations, video art, music, fashion and many other fields.

“The glitch is a moment in time that has the potential to snap us from a particular context and can reveal the systems at play. glitches reveal what software and hardware are hiding behind their closed doors and walled gardens .” Jon Satrom

“Glitch art is the aestheticization, recognition, and/or instigation of a glitch, a break and/or disruption of the expected flow of a system.” Nick Britz

Glitch Art and glitch tools are developed by an artist, coder, or hardware hacker for their own practice and very often freely shared as open source tools for others to explore the potential of such practices.


What are the main themes of the festival?
The festival is divided in 3 main tracks (we called them partitions, as you do for hard disk partitions): A:\ DISNOVATION (Friday), B:\ IDENTITIES (Saturday) and C:\ HYSTORIES(Sunday). Each of those days is co-curated with track leaders.

A:\ DISNOVATION, is a follow up on the the Art Hack Day event I organized in August at Parsons Paris, and led by Nicolas Maigret.

B:\ IDENTITIES will explore the concept of Identities, citizenship, gender and much more, and is led by Shawné Michaelain Holloway, a curent first year MFA Design+Technology Student.

C:\ HYSTORIES is led by Jon Cates, Marie Lechner and myself, in collaboration with Emmanuel Guez from PAMAL, préservation et archéologie des arts médiatiques, a research center in Avignon dedicated to Media Archaeology.

reFrag: glitch address the multifold ways in which glitches manifest and/or are mobilized artistically in our lives. reFrag: glitch breaks, cracks, ruptures as dirty disorganizational strategies for gathering/rallying glitch communities.


How did the partnership between Parson Paris and the Art Institute of Chicago come about?
I was invited, as guest artist, to the Chicago’s festival, in 2012. So when I returned to Chicago for the CAA conference, last year, Jon Cates (Chair;  Film, Video, New Media & Animation Department) and myself, decided to run an event, and associate our students and schools, in Paris. Participants are from France, United States, Brazil, UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, and more.

This festival will allow practitioners from all over Europe and and internationally to meet, work, exchange and build new ideas, works and outputs. This is the first time – in Paris – that this type of research and practice are being discussed, presented and explored.


How does the academic program at Parsons Paris contribute to what is happening in the Paris?
Both at SAIC and in Parsons Paris, students have been exposed to Glitch Art practices and are currently working on projects to be added to the exhibition during the festival (with workshops led by Nick Briz and myself). It is also a unique opportunity for students to meet with internationally renowned artist and theorists, in an informal, purposely disorganized and spontaneous manner.

I’m hoping to gather students from all majors of Parsons Paris, from first years to BFA Art, Media and TechnologyBFA Fashion DesignBBA Strategic Design and Management and MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies and MFA Design + Technology. This event is looking at research and practices from glitch art to critical design, so will guarantee a large scope of works and discussions to be represented.

parsonsparis-tate1Glitch Art by Parsons Paris students at Tate Britain last fall

How is the festival structured?
The festival has been conceived more as a space than a structure. As mentioned above, each day will be different and led by different people. We have also made public call and are leaving room for spontaneous exchanges, workshops, performances. The days are divided as followed:

THU. 19TH :        06 / 10PM     @ PARSONS PARIS
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

FRI. 20TH :
Workshops / Lecture / Round Table / Screening / Performance / Demo

08 / 11PM      @ GAITE LYRIQUE
Lectures / Round table

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SAT. 21ST :
Workshops / Lecture / Round Table / Screening / Performance / Demo


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SUN. 22ND :
Workshops / Lecture / Round Table / Screening / Performance / Demo

08 / 1PM        @LE SHAKIRAIL

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The gallery space, that have designed with Director of Academic Technology, Ivan Twohig, is made of modular furniture (blocks) than can be re-arranged in many combinations, allowing the space to reconfigured based on the current activity. The walls will be covered in chalkboard paint, so the space can be used as working space.

The aim of this structure is to blur the lines between audience and participants. Visitors from the public will be invited to engage in roundtable discussions, attend lectures, take part in workshops and performances.


How will the festival be shared?
We are planning on populating the website each day, document events with video (live stream or recorded) and a time lapse video of the entire festival will be published after it is over. All will be accessible on, which is constantly being updated, so keep checking back.

Follow the event online with #reFrag. Tweet Benjamin Gaulon aka @recyclism with any questions or how you can get involved.


Learn more about the BFA in Art, Media & Technology and MFA in Design + Technology at Parsons Paris. 

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