"Jon Cates has been at the forefront of computer-generated works acceptance within the realm of contemporary art. Currently positioned as Chair of the Film, Video, New Media and Animation department at SAIC, he has established himself within the center of the glitch scene in Chicago- now referred to as the “birthplace of dirty new media.” - Donny Gettinger

"Describing the world of new media/glitch artist Jon Cates is a labyrinthine task. You might begin with his spontaneous and inventive word-language actions reminiscent of William Burroughs cut-ups; or the hypnotic .gif animations made from seemingly incongruous, discarded fragments of media; or perhaps his “dirty new media” aesthetic that brings to the surface the aberrations and raw imperfections that are typically verboten in “high-end” digital circles.

Jon Cates has ironically and quite cleverly commingled punk and pirate media with thoughtful theoretical discourses. Based in Chicago, he is Chair of Film, Video, New Media and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago by day, prowling the subculture of the alternative spaces by night. Cates is at the center of a glitch scene in Chicago, now referred to as the “birthplace of dirty new media,” a movement he has in large part catalyzed: spawning the international GLI.TC/H Festivals and other assorted hactivist events and DIY workshops.” - Glitch Expectations: A Conversation with Jon Cates by Randall Packer for Hyperallergic (2014)

“I have been thinking about Jon’s dirty new media output, a defiant acceptance of all forms of media-generated aberrations echoing John Cage’s embrace of noise in the previous century. It is a liberating idea in this age of sparkling clean media!

With roots deep in the history of Xerox art, Rauschenberg assemblages, sampling, collage, remix, and the rest, dirty new media not only accepts all things impure, it embraces them. As data becomes increasingly mutable and artists discover the possibilities of shifting the seemingly endless array of data types from one context to another, a new form emerges: not the purity of perfect renderings, but the emergence of aberrations that are born from the artifacts of compression, layering, blending, twisting, agitating the pixels and audio bits through multiple iteration and regeneration.

Things don’t get uglier, they get grittier and richer and better. We find ourselves luxuriating in the complexity of fantastic aliasing! All those tiny imperfections we have been taught to avoid at all costs, become the essence of composition: glitched, messed up, broken down, distorted and fragmented until something new and wondrous prevails.

But you have to be fearless in the pursuit. You might think you yourself are self-destructing in the process, when in fact, it may just be a phoenix rising from the grit. Let the artifacts and errors duplicate and spawn new generations where they may, because they will, whether we like it or not.

That in a nutshell is the history of art and dirty new media.” - The Artifacts of Regeneration - Randall Packer (2014)

“Jon Cates has invented his own glitch-activated world of what he calls “dirty new media.” Unlike the slick interfaces and narratives that tend to cross our screens on a daily basis, to enter Cates’ world is to plunge into a sea of pixels, swirling and animating endlessly and seemingly needlessly. But not at all, for here is the Dada artist of the digital age. Nonsensical, but powerfully directed art that excavates the world we live in, a world we never have time to investigate as thoroughly and obsessively as Cates. To go through Cates’ sites is to enter an abandoned basement of endless stuff. Once you lose your fear of getting lost amidst the rummage, it becomes a playland of endless possibilities, a magic theater of strange spinning, rotating things, raw code, jumbled up texts: a wild, wacky, wondrous world of digital nothingness. About as nothing as nothing could be until you realize its all part of something so grand and wonderful you have to just pause and absorb it all.

In an information-saturated environment that allows no time at all for anything, because things and people lose their intrinsic value amidst the over-population of it all, in the Jon Cates world, everything is important, everything is justified, everything has the potential of becoming. It’s a revelation to discover this fact: just when you couldn’t possibly answer another email, follow another link, or watch yet another video clip… in the Jon Cates space where all things matter, you can feel your heartbeat slow way down as you just sit and reflect on the glorious simplicity of a three-second animated gif, three seconds that could very well become an eternity.

Or, whatever.” - Whatever - Randall Packer (2014)

“jonCates is a glitch art and GIF lord, chair of Film, Video, New Media and Animation at the School of the Art Institute, and writer focusing on experimental forms of media arts and media art histories with a recent publication in “The Emergence of Video Processing Tools,” by Intellect. Cates’ work has been described as having “opened the field of artistic engagement and agency,” and “punk as fuck,” and just last year he curated a Glitch Art exhibition and event series in Canada, and exhibited his work in Germany, France, New York, and multiple locations online. His studio is the internet, several projects running simultaneously across the many opened tabs of his web browser. Entrenched deep within the glitch scene both in Chicago and internationally, Cates is currently planning a Glitch Art festival in Paris set for next year.” - Art 50 2014: Chicago's Artists' Artists - Newcity (2014)

“Jon Cates has spent years of his life perfecting black-and-white GIFs. It’s all about his tactics. In this one, “GrandGrimoireSkullFlowerTribute vrsn II,” Cates pulls one over on the usually very simple sexy-winking meme by using an array of texture, shading, and speed to create this phantom-like collage.” - GIF of the Day: The Phantoms of Jon Cates - Corinna Kirsh for ART F CITY (2014)

“Chicago has been a hub for the glitch art movement for years, even before glitch art became a term. Electronic and noise music, the punk rock scene, as well as improv jazz circles, all helped influence the artistic subgenre. The spirit of sharing digital media and the network of DIY art galleries in Chicago also played a part... Influential glitch artists have emerged from Chicago and onto the international scene. One of them, Jon Cates, coined the term Chicago Dirty New Media, a catch-all term that describes how digital tech can elevate an experience. Even if a glitch artist doesn’t physically hail from the Windy City, she might attribute her style to Chicago’s Dirty New Media.” - Inside The Bizarre Phenomenon Known As "Glitch Art" - Tina Amirtha (2014)

“Prior to his involvement in glitch, jonCates, one of several artists in glitChicago who teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), already promoted “dirty new media” as a strategy for smearing excessively clean technologies with the stain of bodily experience. He credits the notorious/glorious entity Netochka Nezvanova and media artists JODI as influences. It’s not hard to connect dirty new media to the “set of dirty little practices” known as tactical media, too. Developed by political and media activists and artists, tactical media is as much an aesthetic act as a political one. (Garcia 1997, Lovink 2002)” - // The Way of Their Errors: Glitch Art Chicago Style ░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ Paul Hertz (2014)

"The term “Dirty New Media” was coined by artist, musician, and Chair of the Film, Video and New Media and Animation (FVNMA) program at SAIC, Jon Cates to describe a specific thrust of new media art focused on the intentional aestheticizing of disjointed images that have been all but eradicated by technological advances. The average prime time television commercial being the perfect counter-example: everything is lit brightly, the scenes cut seamlessly into one another, the music and dialogue is engineered into a flawless and cohesive whole.

Dirty New Media works toward subverting expectations and creating tension between the subject and the aural and visual elements we take for granted... In her writing, Rosa Menkman has referred to Chicago as “(the) ‘pivotal axis’ of the international glitchscene(s).” She has also coined the term “Chicago School of Glitch.”

What the “School” in “Chicago School of Glitch” refers to is open to debate. Yet it is impossible to dismiss the recurring presence of current and former SAIC students and faculty at the forefront of the glitch art and Dirty New Media scenes, both in Chicago and globally. This recent groundswell of innovation centered around SAIC can be traced to the programming and institutional support of Jon Cates. Cates has been organizing glitch art and Dirty New Media-related festivals and exhibitions in and around Chicago since the late 1990s. Prominent glitch artists Jon Satrom and Nick Briz were students of Cates’ and now both teach in the FVNMA program at SAIC. Satrom and Briz, along with Rosa Menkman are also the organizers of GLI.TC/H one of the premier Glitch “conferences,” the third iteration of which occurred in various locations around Chicago from December 6 through 9, 2012.

Under the direction of Cates, SAIC has become a community-based training ground for a diverse roster of new media artists. The strong sense of open-source sharing and collaboration attracts artists from a diverse range of backgrounds..." - 1 M0M3NT 0F EXTENDED BROK3NN3SS: Glitch + Dirty New Media — Medium Moment / Movement - Kristofer Lenz (2013)

"Jon Cates' selfie game is on point, taking Photobooth pics to a whole other level... All of his selfies are GIFs of him throwing up the sign of the horns and being an overall badass." - COMPLEX ART+DESIGN: 25 GIF Artists You Should Know by  (2013)

"His voice is noise, his music is now the environment, and the only thing we can do is to keep our eyes on the screens." - Vincent Hung on Post-Static (2012)

"...his experiments may be his undoing. At this point the piece could collapse and jonCates has not propped himself up with his technology. Instead, he's used it to lead us to key moments and obliterating everything else." - Post-Static: Realtime Performances by jonCates and Jon Satrom - channeltwo (2012)

"The culture of animated GIF is on the move, with thriving communities of artists working for decades in relative obscurity now earning more attention every year. Local artists like jonCates and events like the gli.tc/h convention on new media have made Chicago as interesting a perch as any from which to observe the advance of the GIF to the forefront of 21st century art." - Steven Pate on Downcast Eyes in 

"Performances were not merely contained to VJ sets, but included real-time executables, and even “lectures-as-performance.” Jon Cates ‘read’ a paper he wrote on Glitch, adding multiple layers of noise and recordings of the reading over each other until it was completely indiscernible... What’s fascinating about these types of performances, besides how entrancing they are, is that they represent a new system of language built entirely on noise and visual phenomena that gives way to real interpersonal communication." - Dylan Schenker on GLI.TC/H in The Creators Project.

"A history of the local “glitchscene” over the last decade, documented by Chicago signal-scrambling mastermind Jon Cates" - Bert Stabler on GLI.TC/H in Newcity Art

"Jon Cates, a new media artist, has been collecting and making animated GIFs since 1996, and he’s gearing up to open his Institvte for the Animated GIF. Cates conceives of this private collection as beyond an archive; it is also an institution that will hold workshops and educate about GIFs through exhibits and interviews with makers. Cates, like Fleischauer and Lazarus, is interested in situating animated GIFs among early advancements in cinema and, more broadly, amid the entire digital revolution.

“It’s not ironic,” says Cates, who sees value in GIFs as cultural artifacts, and he is enthusiastic about creating new GIFs and sharing them. “They make me feel good,” he says. Is the animated GIF a form of digital folk art? Cates relates a story about cultivating his collection, where he contacted someone online who was making animated GIF self-portraits. It turned out she was seventeen years old and, like a self-taught artist, had little interest, at first, in contributing to a GIF museum, as she was simply, happily, creating her GIF portraits at home and posting them on her tumblr for anyone to see. This anecdote is not meant to reveal the strange power of the art world as it usurps every artifact in its path, but rather shows that digital art-making is a people’s movement. While technology has a tendency to be expensive, with a steep learning curve, it is simple methods such as GIFs that are readily accessible to virtually anyone. A positive attribute of GIFs, says Cates, is that they are “not innovative.”

In the studio, artists often self-impose limits and constraints on their materials and methods in order to explore every nuance of their medium and style. GIFs provide “excessive limitations,” says Cates. With limited color palettes, short looping cycles, and low-res image output, the inherent rules of the GIF format can empower artists to create." - Jason Foumberg on Animated GIFs in Newcity Art

"The graphic and industrial design styles of Apple Computers is one example of the kind of clean, smooth, slick style Dirty New Media is attempting to interrogate. Jon Cates began to use the term Dirty New Media, as he explains, “to express a contrast with the kind of cleanliness that I associate with more commercial or corporate styles of digital art and design.” A professor at the the Film, Video, New Media and Animation Department at the SAIC and developer of its New Media curriculum, Cates helped originate the raw, direct, unkempt, and noisy, style with colleagues and students. In 2005, Cates co-founded a micro-festival series called r4WB1t5, a program of digital art projects which ran successfully through 2007. Jason Scott, archivist for Archive.org, has called the Chicago-based community the “birthplace of dirty new media.” Rosa Menkman, the consummate Glitch Art theory practitioner from Amsterdam, has written that Cates and company have foreground Glitch Art in a way which has become a ‘pivotal axis’ of the international gitchscene." - Erica Peplin on Dirty New Media Art in Chicago Art Magazine

"I think the most successful thing from the MCA show was the antagonistic one by Cates. It shat all over that "friend" thing, and was PuNk As FuCk." - Absis Minas on BYOB Chicago at the MCA