Yiying Lu: The Failure Interview
Creator of Twitter’s Fail Whale presents her first solo exhibit.
If you’ve ever used Twitter, you’re probably familiar with Yiying Lu’s work. Lu [@yiyinglu], a bubbly twenty-something artist based in Sydney, is creator of Fail Whale, the whale being lifted by a flock of birds image that appears on screen whenever Twitter—the wildly popular social networking and micro-blogging service—is “over capacity” due to “too many tweets.”
For Twitter users, the appearance of Fail Whale serves to soften what would otherwise be a thoroughly frustrating encounter with the site—and, as Lu puts it, “makes people realize that there’s more than one way to look at failure.” Meanwhile, Fail Whale—and to a lesser extent Foul Owl (Twitter’s “account suspended” icon), which she also created—have brought Lu a certain measure of fame, and helped get her design career off to a flying start.
Late last week, Failure—with an assist from Skype—made a New York-to-Sydney connection with Lu, who was more than happy to discuss the origins of Fail Whale, her forthcoming exhibit, and her feelings about being closely associated with failure, a condition to which the editors of Failure can certainly relate.