System & Error Workshop

Ordinary life is made of eventful junctures, constant surprises and adjustments that go beyond all attempts to rigorously plan and design things. Buildings and infrastructures crack. Smart phones make errors. Printers print funny stuff. The state and the financial market fail. Also our body can react strangely. All these failures have an aura: they do not occur twice in the same way and produce the vertigo of disturbances and the adrenaline of edges.

Likewise, systems are organised by defining why something is proper and some others are a failure. The exclusion of the deviant (noise, dirt, queer and so on) informs us about a general order of things. But errors also tell about accidental findings, entropy, gaps, tricksters, hackers… and make evident the possibility of becoming something else. The workshop will thus address different notions of failure and diverse meanings of mistakes, systems, randomness and dead ends, dealing therefore with questions such as:

  • Do failures need an excuse?
  • What does an error look like?
  • Are errors merely failed expressions of a system?
  • What is the benefit of being part of a system?
  • Which are the aesthetics of systems, networks and infrastructures?
  • How much tolerance for the non-perfect do our societies have?
  • Is a list of failures more revealing than a list of successes?
  • What value does failure have, or is it rather a waste?
  • Does error always imply rejection (and success assimilation)?
  • And does anything right might come from pursuing wrong practices?

The students will engage with how failures, misbehaviours, and things out of place constitute a terrain of interstitiality. The exhibition is also meant to reflect about the risks, potentials and failures of collaborating with and between artists –collaborations, collusions, collisions. We will meet in Tallinn between the 19-21st of Feb. to prepare the show together. The artworks will be produced by couples (a student from Aalto and another from EKA) specifically for the show and in relation to the workshop, expressing what system and error are for them and exploring the limits of damage control and make visible the vulnerabilities of our surrounding systems. 

Everyday we see how somethings and some people are obdurate in their obsolescence, persisting in failures and awkwardness, refusing to accept their superfluous and redundant character, sticking to the analogical, not catching up or stepping out of assigned compartments and classifications. Hence this exhibition appears as a platform for exploring how failure entails iconoclastic action, often painful, fragile, bloody, but it also generates moments of inception, vitality and serendipity.

The workshop is led by Francisco Martínez (Aalto), and will culminate in an exhibition in Tallinn at EKKM end of February (more details will be posted soon).

Speakers: Derek Holzer, Francisco Martínez, Lily Diaz-kommonen, Tuuli Malla, Maija Annikki Savolainen, Liina Siib, Oliver Laas, Patrick Laviolette, Camille Laurelli.

Cover photo from Derek Holzer’s archive: taken by Pierre Gondard