Oops: When Technology Failsby Yuval Saar | 19.03.15
A few weeks ago I was looking for some image in my sketch books from the late 90’s – early 2000’s. They weren’t exactly sketches, they were sketchbooks filled with newspaper cutouts, magazines, stickers and more from that period. A moment before I found what I was looking for, I stumbled upon a printed piece that had been damaged, which I had decided to hold on to and do something with one day. I remember that I had been really happy with the surprise that was waiting for me at the A3 printer in the office, when instead of finding a print that was similar to what had appeared on the screen, I found a piece of paper with some sort of scrambled and charming aesthetic, the kind that I could never design on my own. I’m sure that the designers among you understand.
15 years later and nothing has changed: the A3 printers have been replaced by 3D printers and picture processing software; glitches and digital banners that don’t function properly; broken smartphones screens, photos that were convulsed as they were taken; digital error messages that come into the physical world, 3D prints that went wrong.
What happens when technology fails? When it acquires a certain parodic or grotesque dimension? When what was meant to stay behind the scenes is suddenly exposed? When the digital world doesn’t function as it’s promised to? And why are we so attracted to that? Those were exactly the questions I had asked designers, makers, artists, engineers, researchers, craftsman and students; and the results can be found at oops, a new exhibition I am curating that will open on Friday, March 27th, at the Hansen House in Jerusalem. As I was working on the exhibition, I understood that the similarity between all of the pieces is that they expose mechanisms that we disregard in our day to day live, and they approach technology without the awe and reverence that are a regular part of our approach to what we don’t understand.
Another collective theme is that the pieces all have a human side. All of the artists used technology and exposed its human aspects. Theoretically technology isn’t supposed to make mistakes, it’s supposed to work as we expect it to, as we were promised. But we have all occasionally run into situations in which technology lets us down, and that precisely is the interesting moment: the moment in which the technology turns personal; when it doesn’t take itself too seriously; when you can have fun with it, and make fun of it.
Oded Ben Yehuda
For example, some of the new projects at the exhibition will include Shaul Cohen‘s, the owner of Factory3D, which will present the development of a hybrid project, which was done in the framework of his studies in the MA Industrial Design program at Bezalel (see image in the head of the post). It’s an outdoor instillation that will be comprised of tens of hybrid animals, which he had created from connecting waste from his 3D printers.
Oded Ben Yehuda, who writes the design column “Graphic Buster” on Xnet, will present a piece which was formed from a bug that disrupted the display on his computer and interfered with his ability to read emails. The bug converted Google’s font display and created a strange set of letters, hidden and cubic, like a new font. Shelly Simcha created “butterflies” from broken smartphone screens of different types, colors and sizes. By a simple duplication on Photoshop she gave life to the broken screen, and turned it into weird digital bugs that attract the eye with their outstanding shapes.
Another version of this post was originally published in Hebrew on http://byfar.co.il and translated by Yuval Regev.