OFFF Portugal 2009 Catalog This isn't flying, this is falling with style
OFFF Portugal 2009 Catalog We fail. We all do, and our failures often say more about us than our successes do. But we hide failure, we are ashamed of it and we often just deny it altogether. For almost a decade the Offf festival have featured successful digital creators in design and experimental sound and have celebrated the cutting edge of digital aesthetics. This year, we shed some light on the dark side of success and discover the dynamics and aesthetics of failure. When technology fails it can fail miserably and it can fail gracefully, and if it is graceful enough failure might not be noticed or even appreciated as success. In that sense, 'Fail Gracefully' is an essential strategy working with anything digital. Web designers, working for a certain screen resolution make sure their layout will fail gracefully when viewed in lower resolutions or in different devices. Motion graphics designers confine typography to the safe areas of the screen and account for shifting color depth as different televisions display the image differently. Even sound designers when choosing an audio compression make sure the audio fails gracefully and compromises only sounds beyond the human ear's hearing scope. Can you spot the pattern? To make sure our technologically communicated message fails gracefully we have to consider for the technology used by the recipient of our digital work. Technological constraints are a given challenge and working within them always foster creativity. In that sense even a successful message should have a fail-strategy encoded into it and should account for scaling levels of success based on the decoding of the message.
But can we extend this approach beyond our use of technology? In many cases it will not be our mastery of technological do's-and-don'ts that determines how our message is decoded. Cultural context is a major decoder and like screen resolutions it changes from one recipient to the other. Do we account for scaling levels of communication? Can we incorporate a failstrategy into our work based on changing cultural context? How do we account for the hybrid cultural contexts fostered by new network cultures? How can we reshape the way we communicate to account for these largely diverse and multi-layered cultural contexts?
To begin developing fail-strategies into our work we have to first realize one thing â€“ a message that failed to communicate the ideas we encoded into it still communicates something. Ignoring that error might lead to a miserable failure, investigating that error and designing that failure is the key to developing a graceful failure strategy.