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Curator's Note

I used to be with it. Then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to me.

-Abe Simpson, The Simpsons

The novelty of new media object does not come from its so called ‘newness’ but from the fact that we do not yet know how to talk about it.  This uncertainty, however, is not caused by a vague referent or misremembered history (as Fredric Jameson suggests in his definition of Pastiche) but by dismissing the regular laws of an existing condition. It is through this destructive but affirmative negation that we can contest and negotiate the possibility of the new. For cultural innovation—through which ‘old’ media could develop ‘new’ social uses— always rises from such willful negation of the status quo. And it is by the grace of this slimy substance of uncertainty, percolating from the ruins of dysfunctional and outmoded practices in other areas, that we are able to welcome the free-floating posture of modular tools to create the new media object.

This coupling force of creation/destruction is at the core of new media theory. While it fosters a new world in relation with new technologies, it also deconstructs our political and cultural landscape. How could a new world be created, after all, without destroying much that had gone before? In fact, the rationale of contemporary knowledge-based works is directly related to this binary of creation/destruction. Perhaps that’s why the image of ‘creative destruction’ is very important to understand the new media’s approach toward the notion of failure, precisely because it derived from the practical dilemmas that faced the implementation of the new media theories.

The Fucking Failure series introduces four New Media artists whose works could be considered as a performative display of such failure or deconstruction. The objects created in these performative displays technically fail in fulfilling the expectations of validating the ‘common sense’, and in doing so subvert the usability, functionality, and marketability of themselves as an art object

By taking a different approach, these works invite us to look to that which is critically unproductive, or even destructive, including the design (or undesign) of technological objects which are inefficient or unusable, asking us to question their instrumentality, while opening new avenues for critical inquiry.

-Farhad Bahram

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