Failure is a common artefact of challenging experiences, a fact of life for interactive systems but also a resource for aesthetic and improvisational performance. We present a study of how three professional pianists performed an interactive piano composition that included playing hidden codes within the music so as to control their path through the piece and trigger system actions. We reveal how apparent failures to play the codes occurred for diverse reasons including mistakes in their playing, limitations of the system, but also deliberate failures as a way of controlling the system, and how these failures provoked aesthetic and improvised responses from the performers. We propose that creative and performative interfaces should be designed to enable aesthetic failures and introduce a taxonomy that compares human approaches to failure with approaches to capable systems, revealing new creative design strategies of gaming, taming, riding and serving the system.
Hazzard, A., Greenhalgh, C., Kallionpää, M., Benford, S., Veinberg, A., Kanga, Z., & McPherson, A. (2019). Failing with style: Designing for aesthetic failure in interactive performance. In CHI '19 Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Glasgow, Scotland UK — May 04 - 09, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300260