gambiarra: “solving problems in alternative ways” or “giving unusual functions to objects” (from Wikipedia)
Because I encountered various instances of the practice of gambiarra throughout my travels in Brazil, it was very interesting to become acquainted with the work of the appropriately titled Belo Horizonte-based collective Gambiologia (i.e. study of gambiarra), whose members pursue a unique interpretation of the practice. The body of work created by Fred Paulino, Lucas Mafra, and Paulo Henrique Pessoa ‘Ganso’ consists of improvisations with recycled and found objects and an integration of digital and electronic technologies, self-labeled ‘techo-cannibalism.’ In a larger sense, their project is also a celebration of obsolescence and a critique of the accumulation of waste in contemporary society.
In contrast to the other work with hardware, hacking and recycling I came across during my travels– i.e. instrument building and circuit bending–, the work of Gambiologia is not just focused on subverting the uses of or finding a new functions for objects, but also on the physical juxtaposition of salvaged objects themselves. These things include but aren’t limited to LED displays, lamps, toys and household appliances. The resulting reassemblages are laced with common themes: artful clutter, stickers, creative incorportation of lighting, exposed mechanisms, yellow and black striped tape, and appearances of the mythical figure Jean Baptiste Gambièrre.
The Gambiólogos exhibition, A Gambiarra Nos Tempos Do Digital, ran during November and December in Cento e Quatro in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Organized and curated by Fred Paulino of Gambiologia, it featured the work of the collective and the work of 21 other artists (local, national and international) whose pieces also incorporate gambiarra techniques: reuse (deliberate misuse) of objects, recontextualization, and an interest in obselete or unconventional applications of technology. In the words of Fred, work that blurs the lines “between industrial and handcrafted, the art and the design, the creator and the curator.”
The English translation offered for the exhibit is: Kludgists: Kludging in a Digital Era.
Inspired by ad-bikers and other moveable public sound sources found in Brazilian cities, Gambiociclo is a modified tricycle by Gambiologia and the Graffiti Research Lab in Brazil (though about another project, see this post for more on sound and public space in Brazil). One of the features of the exhibition, it explores the notion of broadcasting and comes equipped to intervene in public space– with an electrical generator, computer, camera, projector and loudspeakers.
Below: Gambiociclo in action in Porto Alegre, Brazil
Below is a sampling of other pieces included in the show.
TOC: Trigger de Objetos Cotidianos uses a household electrical relay to trigger household appliances.
Eduardo Imasaka (Autonomic Performance) :
Performance de Desenho Autônomo uses a pen attached to a mechanized arm controlled by ambient radio frequencies.
Aruan Mattos, Flavia Regaldo and Manuel Andrade:
Desconcerto explores the line between analog and digital.
Guto Lacaz: Furadeiras (Drills)
Eles Ainda Estão Vivos features discarded monitors in various stages of decay.