Gambiarra is the Brazilian practice of makeshifts, the art of resorting to quirky and smart improvisation in order to repair what doesn’t work or to create what you need with what you have at your disposal. Gambiologia is the ‘science’ that studies this form of creative improvisation and celebrates it by combining it with electronic-digital techniques.
Gambiologia is also the name of a collective of artists – Fred Paulino, Lucas Mafra and Paulo Henrique ‘Ganso Pessoa’ – who mix this art of improvisation with DIY culture & technology to develop electronic artifacts.
Saulo Policarpo, Prismatic Gambièrre. Image Pedro David
Mariana Manhães, Isso (Taça Azul) e Isso (Taça de Cristal). Image Pedro David
Last year, Fred Paulino gathered the work of Gambiologia along with the one of over 20 Brazilian and international artists in an exhibition titled “Gambiólogos – Kludging in a Digital Era”. The objects, sculptures and installations selected explored the concept of technological gambiarra: they adapt, reinvent recycled and found materials using electronic technologies and much improvisation.
You translate ‘gambiologia’ with Kludging. How different is it from hacking?
Gambiologia is something like “The science of gambiarra”, which is a Brazilian cultural practice of solving problems creatively in alternative ways with low cost and lots of spontaneity, or giving unusual functions to everyday life objects. There is no exact translation for ‘gambiarra’ so we initially used kludge which means (from Wikipedia): ‘a workaround, a quick-and-dirty solution, a clumsy or inelegant, yet effective, solution to a problem, typically using parts that are cobbled together’. In the US they’d call it makeshift. Gambiologia is the study of ‘gambiarra’ in a technological context.
We actually stopped translating Gambiologia at all :^)
I ‘d say it is a specific kind of hacking – it’s the proposal of hacking not only electronics or codes, but objects as well. It’s about using things (or bits, maybe) in functions they were not initially proposed to. Modify them or join them in improvised and creative ways so they’ll not accomplish the original task anymore. Using parts that were not supposed to be together to create a distressing whole. In our case it’s also deeply linked to Brazilian folk culture.
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