Pandemic Glitch

glitch of patient in a hospital
Glitch of a photograph a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator at the Humber River Hospital in Toronto by Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press.

Glitch aesthetics: (define here)

Nick Briz  “motivated by the glitch’s potential to bring to light the ( often unrecognized ) politix embedded in our technological systems.”

Much of the language of glitch is the language of pandemics. Programmers talk about viruses, contamination, and ghosting.

ENG 705 students were asked to select an image of the pandemic that represents something they perceive as negative. They were then asked to find a text about the pandemic that they perceive as positive or hopeful.

Following Nick Briz’s method of producing glitch aesthetics to manipulate the code of their jpg image, students inserted sequences of their text into the code of their image, weaving language into image, positive into negative.

code in textedit
Code of the photograph

The results have been extraordinary.


In the example,

Jeffrey, David Ian. “Relational Ethical Approaches to the COVID-19 Pandemic | Journal of Medical Ethics.” Journal of Medical Ethics, Accessed 22 Feb. 2021.


To achieve social distancing and voluntary self-isolation of large numbers of affected or vulnerable people requires the ethical concept of solidarity. Solidarity is the agreement between and support for members of a group.10 The ethical principle of solidarity exists where individuals are firmly united by common responsibilities and interests, and undivided in opinion, purpose and action.5 Solidarity among members of society is central to limiting damage from the pandemic. Solidarity also comprises virtues such as altruism, kindness, generosity and empathy, extending to include the concept of fellowship.7 11 12 Solidarity is at its heart another relational construct and reflects a shared interest in survival and safety.4 One test of our solidarity is to examine how we look after the most vulnerable in our population, since the greatest burdens of the pandemic will fall on such disadvantaged groups.13 Membership of a disadvantaged social group, for example, the homeless, interferes with people’s ability and opportunity to exercise their autonomy.4 Solidarity is linked with social justice and is concerned with fair access to social goods such as self-respect.4


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