Archaeoglitch: A Bot Glitching Archaeological Photography

You might not have noticed, but it’s conference season for the poor benighted denizens of @tinyarchae, Susan, Anton, Maurizio and the rest. Recently, their horrible dystopia of a project has (as is often the case in archaeology) unleashed various eldritch horrors on the world.

In 2017, we really can’t expect much more, I suppose.

In any event, the pressure is getting to them; you might have heard some maniacal laughter emanating from various quarters of that project. Indeed, it would seem that Bastet, Cthulu, or some other Old One is warping space time, as pieces of the excavation archive (principally the photos) leak onto the webs



… the end is nigh…



Ok, enough with my two-bit awful prose. What’s going on here? I’ve been playing with remixing some of the twitter bots hosted at My bot is at but that’s just the boring bit facing outwards that doesn’t show you anything. The real action is behind the scenes. Remix the code here and follow this tutorial to get your own bot running (and to understand more of how glitch works).

Now, the thing with my bot is that I wanted it to grab images automagically from Open Context via its api. Eric at Open Context helped me craft a search for fairly innocuous stuff (I didn’t want to mess around with human remains, for instance). The idea was that my bot would grab from the API, then it would glitch the image and then tweet the thing out. This automagic I could not manage.

Instead, I grabbed all the images (just 50 to start with) with wget, and used a small ruby script to do the glitching. You can find that script & a command at the terminal to pass it over every file in the folder here. Then I dragged the images into the ‘assets’ folder at my twitter bot’s glitch page, and hey presto, a twitter bot tweeting pictures of the altered reality of the World of Tinyarchae.

Two last things –

  • I ended up having to drag my images one at a time. is still a work in progress, and I seem to have borked the uploader
  • to get the twitter bot to actually post, you have to load up the forward-facing page as well as the end point. I have a free cron job thingy set up to do that once a day. We’ll see.
  • Ok, I lied. Three things. The first batch of ‘normal’ images I uploaded just to play with the code (leaving the glitching aside, I was) are still in there somewhere, even though I deleted them. They live on, like ghosts, and so keep turning up in the twitter feed. A glitched glitchbot.

Archaeological photography is something I have no skill at whatsoever (but see Colleen’s stuff, for someone who does!). There is a *lot* that goes on, both methodologically and theoretically, in the creation of a photographic record of objects, contexts, etc. Glitching plays with that, and throws up some interesting questions, which I’ll muse about later. Right now, I just wanted to get the damned bot working.