For Tanner, as for all my students, deformance and glitching helped them look and listen more closely. Their attention bore sophisticated interpretive fruit, both about the folk revival itself and the larger methods by which we perceive and make sense of artifacts and evidence to produce historical meaning. These tactics make use of the strange material qualities of digital code, of the interplay between machine readable and the human readable, of the ability to “mess” with artifacts as they converge in the digital medium. For some historians, deformance and glitching might seem quite disconcerting, at their worst resembling something like Stalin airbrushing a Soviet official out of a photograph after sending him to the gulag. But if handled smartly as a new method, they can render history more revealing, more accurate, more illuminating.

We glitch for glimmers of truth lurking in the data. We deform to deliver how history develops at the surface as well as below it, above it, of it, beyond it. We distort for discovery—the past’s endless arrangements and rearrangements of code and meaning, significance and power, assembling in a process that always breaks down, degrading into signals that were once disorganized yet, as we turn back to them, build up again into new clues, new songs, new messages, new stories.

Blog Posts

Kramer, Michael. Distorting History to Make it More Accurate

Blevins, Cameron. The New Wave of Review

Owens, Trevor. Glitching Files for Understanding: Avoiding Screen Essentialism in Three Easy Steps

Sample, Mark. Notes towards a deformed humanities

Turkel, Bill. Sonification exercise what platform is Bill using?

Schedel, Margaret. Sounds of Science: the mystique of sonification … has a section on the deep history of sonification (Galileo, Hooke, etc) nb check out here publications; website tagline ‘ferociously interactive media’. I like that.


Samuels, Lisa If Meaning, Shaped Reading, and Leslie Scalapino’s Way

McGann and Samuels, Deformance and Interpretation

Models in Science

Palmer (née Reiser) M. Jones O. (2014), “On breathing and geography: explorations of data sonifications of timespace processes with illustrating examples from a tidally dynamic landscape (Severn Estuary, UK)”; Environment and Planning A, 46, (1), pp 222 – 240. Link


Ramsay, Stephen Reading Machines who did I lend my copy to? Damn!

Kirschenbaum, Matthew. Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press, 2008.

Stephan Sinclair & Geoffrey Rockwell Hermeneutica

Montfort, Nick Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities

Salter, Chris. Entangled: Technology and the Transformation of Performance also in our library


Museum of the History of Science

Mathematics artefacts data set, xml, Canadian Science and Technology Museum

Horology artefacts data set, xml, Canadian Science and Technology Museum

Physics artefacts data set, xml, Canadian Science and Technology Museum