‹clumsy objects›

Interview with Adam Gawel, questions by Mira Hirtz

Dear Adam Gawel,
specialist for clumsy objects,

I came across your work some years ago and have ever since been struck by my partial impossibility to put this encounter into words: what am I witnessing? Are these objects machines or characters? Why do they behave the way they do? Why do I think they as objects have the ability to behave at all? Why does the scenery evoke thoughts about failure, humor, and relief? The person inventing and building them has to be a specialist!

Mira Hirtz: Which are the manifestations of your specialization in space? Please describe those and your specialization which allows you to create these manifestations.

Adam Gawel: First of all, I find it very flattering, that the majority of people witnessing my works, have overall ‹positive› emotions towards my works. As you said, some find it cute – often described as little creatures tumbling around, delicate and fragile movements of parts that have to be an extension of some form of being. Well, in fact most of my works have started as experiments with different materials in conjunction with moving parts. As the work progresses, the clumsy aspect gets more and more imminent, but for me this is only the side effect of trying to induce some form of life. You could say, that every living being in the universe can be clumsy, even non-living things. For example, imagine a rock on top of a hill rolling down, jumping from rock to rock, finally scattering and landing in the valley. I think, the clumsy impression for most observers comes from the combination of weak materials combined with digitally-timed movements. Over the years I forced myself to follow some rules to achieve a glimpse of life in what at first glance looks like circuit boards, cables, screws and motors. Also a crucial part in my works is, that every work functions in its own world – meaning, it is not interact-able by anyone.

MH: Was there an awakening moment which led to your specialization? Do you perceive your way of constructing clumsy objects as your vocation?

AG: I worked on a seminar work in 2014, collecting my first experiences with motors and microcontrollers. Somehow I noticed that the motors worked irregularly and had partial misfire. I could not explain why this happened. I checked the programming and also the wiring – everything seems fine. During the troubleshooting, I noticed that I did find the movements fascinating, and with every irregular twitching at different intervals and speeds, I recognized a pattern which could only be explained by a manifestation of life. The quick rise of the microcontroller power lamps and the gentle after glow afterwards could only be a sign of fulfillment by a spirit-like creature, I thought. Shortly before my thoughts were able to digress into signals of extraterrestrial forms of life, I recognized the solution in the dim red light. The motors needed too much current with each movement, so that the maximum current was reached very quickly and the microcontroller could not work properly. I was disappointed for a little while, then I was happy for a while that I solved the problem. But than again I was disappointed that everything worked as planned…The idea that failure in design could generate such an inspiring and wonderful experience haunted me for at least … a few hours, until I began to work on my first machine.

MH: Would you like to found a discipline based on creating clumsy objects? What would you call it? What would the enrolling procedure be like? What would your favorite teaching method be?

Sure – I really cannot come up with any name, but the enrolling process would probably be as follows: Every candidate has to have at least a mildly disturbing yet kind of lovely family history. This has to be proven in an oral Interview, in presence of the Family. Only with this preposition you can perform clumsy objects, that look, act and sound amusing, but in reality suffer a monotonous ‹Lifecircle›.

For further information check out the artists website.