What is the significance of error in a society that is dominated by accuracy and predictability? Artist Erik Kessels (2016) writes about having the courage to fail and psychologist Mark Nunes (2012) documents the need to reclaim error from ‘… the trajectory of the unclean.’ My research focuses on error as something that has agency and acts in the world. Agency can be attributed to something that has the ability to act in a network of social relationships outside of the physical world (Gell, 1998). This perspective facilitates an understanding of the materiality of error and in my research the agency of error is mapped out through a socially engaged practice, questioning the relationship between participants, technology and error.
Human and nonhuman errors can be understood through a number of key fields including: Information Theory (Shannon and Weaver, 1949) that demonstrates how communication contains both signal and noise; Media Archaeology (Parikka, 2012), in terms of the way that error has materiality; and Actor-Network-Theory for the way in which objects demonstrate agency through relationality. Furthermore, the context of the postdigital informs my research (Cramer 2014), as it embraces the technological flaws and errors that are inherent to all media, new and old, indeed undermining the distinction.
In accordance with Information Theory errors are inherent to all communications but my interest is in the nuances of these, such as errors that are accidental, known and unknown, forced or unintended, systematic or random. Computers are programmed to recognise errors and correct them, with autocorrect systems aiming to compensate for human frailty systems are put in place to avoid error, but what if systems are created to disrupt this logic? For example, what happens if the delete key is itself deleted?
My research develops participatory events which draw upon socially engaged practices and close observation of people and systems to examine how errors are made and received. The events consider the effects of error through discussion, the production of paper based works, collaborative writing, printmaking and the use of social media.