Typically, when a program crashes, it’s a moment of crisis from which you feel you’ll never return. Most people lose it, but it turned out to be a source of inspiration for Victoria Siemer, a.k.a. Witchoria, a local artist and designer whose Photoshop program crashed while she was working on a big project.
Accordingly, an error message popped up: “Photoshop has crashed unexpectedly.” Siemer took a screenshot of the message, intending to make some joke about how it had unexpectedly broken her heart, and quickly realized that many computer error messages can be applied to real life. From there, the ongoing Human Error project was born.
We caught up with Siemer to discuss the art project, its rampant success and how human error becomes art.
With the project still ongoing, how often do you produce human error messages?
Some weeks I make a few, sometimes weeks go by before I make another.
How do you go about creating each “photo?”
The first three polaroids were found scanned polaroids from the creative commons on flickr. After that I began completely constructing the image in photoshop, mixing my photography (for the most part, a few other creative commons free-for-any-use images in there in the beginning) and the error message into empty polaroids frames. I am looking into a few methods right now to bring these to fruition in actual polaroids and escape the digital realm. Expensive trial and error, with polaroid film going for as much as it does these days.
How do you believe Human Error fits into the idea that technology affects human relationships?
I do believe that technology has affected human relationships quite a bit. Technology gives us the idea that we are hyper connected to the world around us, when in reality there is a huge disconnect. People don’t talk to people anymore. If I want a pizza, I use an app. If I need to see the doctor, I use an app. Hell, if I want a boyfriend I can use an app. Dating in New York is insane. OKCupid often becomes OKIvemadeahugemistake.
More than a few art websites have picked up on the project. Why do you believe people have connected so well with the project?
I had no idea how much attention this project was going to gain, it blows my mind a bit. My adult angst has paid off, finally! There are so many social media platforms now, so many more places to be rejected. It’s nearly impossible to remove all traces of someone after a break up. Even if you are able to block them on everything, they always find a way to sneak back into your feed, into your mind. Digital footprints that further stomp on your heart. The series has transitioned past heartbreak into some of the other dark crevasses of my psyche. Sometimes it’s about death, abandonment, or my own personal existential crises. A quarter life crisis of sorts. Life is hard. Art is my coping mechanism. I think people get that, and that a lot of people are going through the same things, and we’re all just trying to figure it out.
Speaking of figuring it out, you work as a graphic designer by day and an artist the rest of the time. How do you balance those two jobs?
The only way to have a balance between my artwork and my full time job as a web designer is to just work twice as hard. I work eight or more hours a day – then I go home and I put in my hours as an artist. Sometimes when I have an idea, it’s a compulsion to immediately create it, or at least sketch out the idea for later. This is a pain in the ass when I am on the train, which happens often.
Working on any other projects?
I always have a bunch of stuff in the works. I’ve found I work best when I am stressed out, so I end up juggling a lot of things at once. I have two other projects that I create work for on a consistent basis, the squared series (which the internet renamed to Geometric Reflections in Landscapes) and the Levitation series. I have a few new things up my sleeve, though.
Follow Nikita Richardson on Twitter @nikitarbk