Circuit-bent jigsaw

Circuit-bent jigsaw #1  [Prints]

This is a series of six randomised jigsaws created over 6x day-long performances and streamed at

The majority of digital art arguably has aesthetic concerns as its focus. Even glitch art, which focuses on digitally corrupting image generation, usually has aesthetics at its heart in that the artist will usually keep altering the system until a satisfactory or appealing image is found; they choose which images to display and which to discard. In this way, a great deal of glitch art can be seen as an aesthetic representation of a “glitched” process, but cannot be said to be truly a glitch in conceptual terms. Glitches are by their very nature unpredictable, and unachievable with forethought (the attempt to stage a glitch means it is no longer truly a glitch).

Circuit-bent jigsaw #2  [Prints]

This work investigates the related field of circuit-bending: the practice of dismantling electronic equipment (more often than not, old electronic toys) and corrupting their circuitry in order to achieve unpredictable and randomised results (audio and/or visual). Circuit-bent jigsaw takes this culture of experimental modification out of its digital context and re-applies it to a traditional medium.

Circuit-bent jigsaw #3  [Prints]

An archetypal traditional toy, the jigsaw, was chosen as the medium through which to explore this process. Its pieces can be seen as representing pixels in a regular, grid-based image, which can be manipulated or randomised in an echo of the glitching process. In keeping with the conceptual framework of boardgames and traditional toys, the randomisation is provided by a six-sided die.

Circuit-bent jigsaw #4  [Prints]

This non-digital reflection of the circuit-bending process involved six different 1000-piece jigsaws, all cut to the same pattern, so that one piece may be taken from one jigsaw and placed into another in its corresponding position. A new, unique jigsaw was generated by throwing the die, which selects one of the six jigsaws, and by adding the corresponding piece/pixel to the new jigsaw. This process continued until six unique jigsaws had been created. To ensure authenticity, these were all commercially-available jigsaws, mirroring the circuit-bending practice of using conventional, everyday electronic toys.

Circuit-bent jigsaw #5  [Prints]

Effectively, this is circuit-bending or corrupting the system of the regular, understood way of doing a jigsaw, randomising each pixel (or jigsaw piece) within the parameters of the possible pieces (or palette colours) available. I play the part of the corrupted circuit, obeying the whims of the rerouted, randomised system, i.e. the die.

This piece therefore has two purposes:

1) to mirror the processes involved in glitch art and thus create aesthetic glitch images through randomisation, and

2) to put into place the conditions under which true conceptual glitch, i.e. unplanned accidents, could occur and possibly be recorded in the images. Circuit-bent jigsaw #2 was the first in which a true conceptual glitch was observed (clearly visible at B36 – top right corner).

The finished images draw out the underlying scene statistics of the scenes commonly framed by pictures. “Scenes”, whilst they may contain different subject matter, generally adhere to a set of principles of composition. These principles can be seen in the Circuit-bent jigsaws, with lighter shades appearing at the top of the images, and the viewer’s eye drawn in to the central, distant point. Though the individual units of the scene have been stripped of their semantic or contextual attributes, they still adhere to a set of predetermined rules, which are retained in the randomised images.

Circuit-bent jigsaw #6  [Prints]

SIX Project Space came and did a short film about my residency and Circuit-bent jigsaw.  Here it is:

Timelapse of all 6 jigsaws:

Videos of individual performances (5-6 hours each) are here:

Circuit-bent jigsaw#1

Circuit-bent jigsaw#2

Circuit-bent jigsaw#3 ; Circuit-bent jigsaw#3 (Time-Lapse version)

Circuit-bent jigsaw#4

Circuit-bent jigsaw#5 ; Circuit-bent jigsaw#5 – The room (x4 speed)

Circuit-bent jigsaw#6 ; Circuit-bent jigsaw – Exhibition set up

Circuit-bent jigsaw #2 was a finalist in the Neo Art Prize 2015 and was in Impossible Material in 2019.

For a more in depth discussion of these things, see the Circuit-bent jigsaw blog page.