Visual artifact is usually some kind unwanted result/object in an image, often due to lossy compression. Examples could be pixelation, "blotches", texture corruption.

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Photoshop suddenly shows artifacts on my file

I am running Photoshop CC on Mac OSX 10.9.1. Today I opened one of my PSD files this morning and all of a sudden, these artifacts appear in some layers that have some effects on smart objects (but ...