Failure Files

Los Angeles, CA

Failure Files is an interpreation of objects from Materials & Application’s exhibition history. Each object represents a moment of collapse and breakdown, but also a manufactured concept— broken world thinking. Considering failure as a history and a culture also brings us to the question of repair. Failure Files was initially collected by Oliver Hess, written and recorded by Virginia Swenson and edited by Sage Roebuck.

Audio hosted on M&A’s KGAP 🔗
Photos by Mateus Comparato

After Effects / Let’s Continue the Experiment   

While exhibitions end, their materials live on, and can land in unlikely places. This is one of 140 concrete cast and textured blocks from the project Land.Tiles by PATTERNS, recovered with a few others from the planter outside the gate on Silver Lake Blvd. The tiles were designed to weather six months in their installation, a landscape micro environment with ‘a circuitry of continuous water flow that stimulated severe and shifting conditions.’ After deinstall, they somehow found their way into the planter, living out another almost decade-long experiment in weathering. It’s funny to compare their initial installment to this secondary, accidental set of conditions they were exposed to. The naturally occuring wear of Los Angeles has been imprinted on them, obscuring the six months of carefully controlled ‘designer’ wear from the ‘highly integrated, environmentally-sensitive, contour-responsive erosion control and landscape consolidation systems' of their installation. Now that they are quietly resting in an office, the questions of their installation are still echoing through the images; what is a resilient environment? How can we model (and predict) change?

By P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S, 2004 

Gold Petal, Upside Down

Installation can require common language, and a good grasp on the ease of mistranslation is essential to a language’s refinement. This piece or ‘petal’ of gold tinted mylar from the construction of Maximilian’s Schell is meant to look like stained glass. It swirled above M&As courtyard in the summer of 2005 in an assembly of 512 unique pieces. This petal was temporarily mistaken as piece ‘9’ instead of piece ‘6’. Once the mislabeling was understood, the pieces were swapped and fit into the structure, and a note was made to always underline 6’s and 9’s. An easy refinement strategy.

Maximilian’s Schell
Benjamin Ball & Gaston Nogues, 2005

Unseen Adaptation

When we become aware of a new threat, it can be easy for normal, everyday problems to be waylaid. Seen here is shredded pneumatic hosing from the piece Bubbles (2007). Bubbles was an interactive exhibit that filled M&A’s courtyard in Silver Lake, consisting of large balloons made of rip-stop nylon that visitors had to navigate as they moved through the space. It was an experiment in adaptation and resilience; the balloons were carefully designed to withstand visitor interaction, and the volume was constantly shifting between the balloons, creating an environment that ‘mimicked the organic movement of plant life in response to human touch.’ UV is often the harshest element outdoor installations weather, and the pneumatic hosing linking the balloons was shredded more quickly than anyone thought possible. The normal threat of UV radiation might have been more carefully considered, if not for the distraction of visitor interaction.

Foxlin (Michael Fox and Juintow Lin) 
NONDesigns (Miao Miao and Scott Franklin)
and Brand Name Label (Gabriel Renz), 2007