Phillip David Stearns

By Alexis Convento, March 2015

A strange, yet intricate pattern on a computer screen that happens in a blink of an eye - a mistake in technology - a glitch in the system. What is a glitch, anyway? How can you define such a "mistake" and turn it into art?

Meet Phillip David Stearns, a Brooklyn-based artist and designer who is interested in digital art, electronics, technology, and the misuse of these systems. He's also owner of the concept textile design brand, Glitch Textiles, which brings Phillip's glitch art to woven design. We were happy to host Phillip's most recent photoshoot for Glitch Textiles at Sky Gallery, and got to chat with him about his inspirations and how he brings the world of glitch to textiles.

Glitch Textiles. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns; taken at Sky Gallery.

Glitch Textiles. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns; taken at Sky Gallery.

Your artistic style - describe in 5 words or less.
Playfully experimental, abstract, conceptual, electric.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I generate experimental art with electronics, which usually entails some amount of misuse, reverse engineering, hacking, or down right breaking of devices. When I was about two, my parents brought home a brand new television set. I vaguely remember breaking the antenna within moments of it being unboxed on the living room floor. That spirit is very much alive in much of the work I create. From sound art, interactive installations, audio-visual performances, to web-based projects and now textiles, my approach is to create experiences that transcend the media involved, by breaking them down or reducing them to their most basic form. It's all about the simple things, really. I like spicy food, good whiskey and dark chocolate. Simple, yet rich and complex.

A woven throw in process. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns.

A woven throw in process. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns.

Detail of a woven throw. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns.

Detail of a woven throw. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns.

What's the concept behind Glitch Textiles?
In 2011 I started Glitch Textiles, a concept textile design brand. The initial idea behind Glitch Textiles was to explore the intersection of digital glitch art and textile design. In the last year or so, I've become more interested in using textiles as a visual medium for revealing the materiality of our digital world. The kinds of designs I make for Glitch Textiles now speaks more to a culture immersed in digital technologies. From visualizing the raw binary data of applications on my computer to writing my own custom algorithms to generating patterns by computing pixel, my main drive nowadays is this idea of creating designs and textiles for the digital native.

Glitch Textiles in flight. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns; taken at Sky Gallery.

Glitch Textiles in flight. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns; taken at Sky Gallery.

Glitch Textiles in flight. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns; taken at Sky Gallery.

Glitch Textiles in flight. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns; taken at Sky Gallery.

Glitch Textiles in flight. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns; taken at Sky Gallery.

Glitch Textiles in flight. Photo courtesy of Phillip David Stearns; taken at Sky Gallery.

What inspires your artistic practice and approach?
Inspiration for my work comes from conversation about the sciences, sociology, philosophy, and technology with my friends and with the interesting folk that I meet along my travels. Being immersed both in wilderness and in hyper urban environments are thrilling. I enjoy ruins and construction sites; I always catch myself peering into construction sites, whether it's the renovation of a storefront or a massive pit, soon to be basement of a high rise or office building. In these moments we can approach an archeology of the present, where we can read present day cultural values. Somehow I feel that the way pipes and conduit run through a building, or how beams are exposed in ceilings reveal how connected our buildings are to our sense of body on many scales. We build living environments, the same which is true for our technology and how we use it to connect with one another. Wondering about these things is a great source of inspiration.

Do you have any works currently on exhibition?
I have two exhibitions currently on view: 

I'm also working on a year-long web project called aYearInCode(); in which I post my experiments and research in code and code oriented practices, daily. It's kinda nerdy, but I'm trying to post as many GIFs as I can muster from my still limited coding abilities.

Learn about what other cool things Phillip is up to here, and make sure to check out his one-of-a-kind woven throws and scarves on the Glitch Textiles website