Minneapolis-born digital artist jrdsctt is a MakersPlace OG and a staple of the community with over 250 unique collectors on MakersPlace. With his Genesis Drop, jrdsctt invites a new element into his creative process: artificial intelligence.
Heavily influenced by the music and lyrics of Nine Inch Nails and inspired by their former art director Rob Sheridan (1998–2014), jrdsctt uses glitch techniques such as pixelsorting and databending to explore unknown yet somehow familiar settings that occupy liminal spaces.
jrdsctt joined MakersPlace as an artist in early 2019. He later became their first official ambassador, helping run the MakersPlace Discord server alongside staff. This role eventually transitioned into an official job with the company in May of 2021.
He has been working there ever since, helping build the MakersPlace community during the day, and glitching dystopian worlds in the evening. The web3 space has consumed most of his waking hours (and some of his unconscious hours as well).
Between our day-to-day meetings with him, we caught up with jrdsctt for an interview to discuss his beginnings in glitch, the influence of music on his work, and how AI is revolutionizing the world of glitch art.
MP: Can you tell me about yourself and your history with art and, in particular, glitch media? What kind of art were you making pre-glitch?
I don’t know how serious it was, but I wanted to be an artist from a very young age. At that point, specifically, I wanted to be a cartoonist. But I realized pretty early that I have no drawing abilities. It’s just not my forte. I ended up exploring many different kinds of creative output. I made music for a while. I was really into podcasting for a while. I tried to get into writing.
One of the first things to click was when I discovered photography in high school. I was lucky enough to go to a high school that still had a dark room, so I’d take some black and white photos and develop all my own stuff.
I decided to go into photography for undergrad, and I found myself increasingly drawn to the post practices of photography. I enjoy taking photos, but I have a lot more fun editing them.
Then during junior and senior years of college, the art students started a group where we’d do a kind of weekly show and tell. One guy came in and showed off a basic glitch technique. If you drag and drop a photo into Apple Notes, it converts it to code and metadata. Then you can cut some of the code or add some, copy and paste the Declaration of Independence, whatever you want. You can resave that as a photo, and either it comes out glitched, or it won’t open because it’s so corrupted.
I’m a big fan of Nine Inch Nails and their former art director Rob Sheridan, who was with the band starting in 1998. When I learned this basic “baby’s first glitch” technique, I realized I had just opened up this entire aesthetic I’d grown up admiring. From there, I started studying other techniques and meeting other glitch artists.
MP: How would you characterize the influence of Nine Inch Nails on your work, taken separately from that of former art director Rob Sheridan?
Growing up when I did — as nu metal was falling out of fashion and emo was rising up as the mainstream rock genre of the day — I found myself drawn toward music where angry guys scream about how sad they are. Trent Reznor was the perfect maelstrom of this raw emotion, but NIN was also always on the cutting edge of technology. Technology has always been important to Nine Inch Nails. They also started in 1989, when I was born, so it felt like I’ve been on this journey with them since day one.
Specifically, they made the album Year Zero in 2007, which kind of forecasted the bleak political and environmental future that feels a lot like our current day. It’s pretty dystopian, but there are a lot of uncomfortable comparisons we can draw to where we are now. But it was nice to see someone sing about these fears in such an exciting way.
One of my favorite things about Year Zero was the world they created. It’s a concept album from the perspective of freedom fighters trying to communicate over unreliable networks, so the video and audio come in all chopped and glitched. Rob Sheridan played a huge role in crafting that glitch aesthetic, and it did wonders for the world-building behind it.
The visual storytelling is so strong with that album. You see a glitchy image of Trent Reznor intercut with some shoddy security camera footage, and it’s a whole story. Then you get into the music, the composition, the lyrics, and everything — that kind of wide-aperture world-building is what excites me.
Rob and Trent were doing these things way before anyone else. Now every other Netflix show has some glitchy intro credits. And especially in this digital age, post-COVID, where you and I have both already had to switch devices because our technology was glitching out.
Anyone who is plugged into the world technology-wise has experienced a glitch. I think that’s why glitch art is so beautiful to me; it’s such a mundane thing, and people are making art out of it. It has this baseline connection to where humans are right now. So it’s easily understood by everyone. But then it can go beyond that, and you can communicate something with it.
MP: On the topic of visual storytelling and concept albums, can you tell me a bit about your ongoing narrative Twitter project?
This brings it all back around because the thing that got me interested in writing a Twitter novel with AI imagery came from Rob Sheridan. Full disclosure, I’m friends with him now. I help run his Discord server. A couple of months ago, he got super early access to Midjourney — one of the popular AI prompt image generators — and he started making his own story called Volstof Institute for Interdimensional Research.
He’s creating a world of this old technology institute that existed in a fictional world in the 60s and 70s using wormholes to breach reality. They were bringing in these beings from other worlds and incorporating them into our technology. He has these amazing AI-generated 60s and 70s recording equipment, weird headphones, amps, and server banks that are engulfed in these weird organic tentacles and skulls and fungus. He’s creating this whole world behind it.
He got me an invite to Midjourney, and I was so excited about his project that I wanted to try it on my own. It felt like a wonderful way to explore my ability to create things. I made myself the main character, and I somehow found myself in this otherworldly cyberpunk dystopian world, and I’m just trying to figure out how I got there and how I can get out. It’s written as logs in a personal recording device, so it’s just called @jrdscttlgs.
And the imagery is all being made with AI, which there’s a sort of irony about. It’s this place where organic and synthetic life have fused, and I find myself wondering if I’m helping bring on a post-Singularity dystopia by writing a story about a post-Singularity dystopia. It’s been really fun. It’s a new form of creation that I haven’t done before, so it’s flexing new parts of my brain.
MP: Which came first, the concept or the images?
It’s interesting. One of the first things I experimented with when I got Midjourney access was putting in my own name, my artist handle, jrdsctt. I was curious to see if I had published enough work that the AI might be able to create one of my glitch pieces without me.
What I got were these cyberpunk images that were sort of 80s pulp novel artworks. It kept pumping out these images, and I started to interpret them. The setting wasn’t earth, but it was earth-like. There were these big skyscraper-like structures. There were these cyborg humanoid things, which I ended up calling Citizens.
So I just kept going. Hundreds and hundreds of these images. I felt inspired to fill in the missing pieces, to learn more about this place, which was, in fact, a reaction to the AI trying to in some way replicate my art, like a weird mirror, like who’s inspiring who here?
MP: Can you describe the process of generating, culling, and modifying the pieces in this drop?
I’ve always been a shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of artist. I don’t start with some big concept I try to create that. I tend to create things until I notice patterns and realize that a concept is forming. I have to see the art I’m making before I know the story behind it.
The advent of AI art like Midjourney is a game-changer for glitch artists. Before, I would either take my own photos or go to some open-source photography site like Pexels or Unsplash. And, as a side note, I think it’s such a cool thing that there are amazing photographers out there who will take great photos and share them with the world. I think that’s such an amazing mentality. But the downside is that, when you run in circles like mine, you find yourself glitching photos that people you know have also glitched.
What’s exciting about AI is that a glitch artist can create the base imagery that they then manipulate. One of the images that came up was, again, pretty cyberpunky, and it paired well with the glitch processes I use, so I started leaning in that direction.
And as I’m doing that, at some point in the process, I’m listening to music on shuffle, and the song that comes up is “Tech Noir” by this British group called Gunship. I’ve listened to this song a hundred times, but for whatever reason, when I was looking at these images, the song just clicked. It starts with a monologue, a kind of cyberpunk character voiced by director John Carpenter, that was a “this might be the last recording I ever make” kind of thing.
It all tied together so neatly with the images I was working with. We’re all on the brink of destruction as technology advances, we’ve wasted earth’s resources, the climate is fucked, and we saw this coming, so you can’t be mad or sad or outraged. It’s just this quiet acceptance of “we brought this on ourselves.”
The monologue and song reminded me of the five stages of grief, and that gave the whole thing a structure and direction.