[-empyre-] Metarecycling / Gambiarra as a Prelude to Critical Making in Brazil

Marcus Bastos info at contradiccoes.net
Mon Apr 7 07:33:12 EST 2014

Hi Tim, Hi Everybody,

thanks for the invitation, nice to be back here. Sorry for the initial silence, I am starting with a look back on things that happened in Brazil before the concept of critical making became current, as a means to think of a wider context in which recent possibilities of creating objects are inserted, to provide a context for the arousal of more recent experiences with critical making in São Paulo. Of course this kind of exercise can become as broad as desired, and I am fascinated by how the exhibition and resulting book DIY - Die Mitchmatch Revolution cover this potential dialogs between technologies such as arduino or 3D printers with historical usages of garage electronics and related procedures: http://www.amazon.de/DIY-Die-Mitmach-Revolution-Helmut-Gold/dp/3931555410. I am not aiming to be exhaustive here, and I will probably post more than once about this topic. To start, I would like to introduce the Metarecycling movement, and Ricardo Rosas's article about the concept of "Gambiarra".

Metarecycling describes itself as a self-organized network that proposes deconstruction of technology for the sake of social transformation. They operate on methodologies to reuse discarded technologies and repurpose then as the result of a network that started in 2002. Here it is possible to check a picture of a 2008 activity called the social weblab: https://www.flickr.com/photos/felipefonseca/tags/weblabsocial/. And here there are pictures of some metarecycled computers from 2012 (with the signature themes and colorful patterns): http://futurambiental.blogspot.com.br/2012/04/futura-e-circo-voador-juntos-na-meta.html. This is one of the most lasting and more widespread experiences  with social technologies in Brazil, old number presented by Access Point's James Wallbank in "paralelo" (http://issuu.com/virtueelplatform/docs/qaf) mentioned more than 600 independent actions of metarecyling in Brazil, in the year of 2009. Metarecycling is not directly related with fabrication, but it is certainly one of the pioneering experiences with "physical" tinkering on the context of an internet influenced culture, drawing heavily on hacker ethics and practices to estabilish an autonomous body of spaces dedicated to multiply its principles. In his PhD, "The METARECYCLING collaboration zones", Hernani Dimantas says:

"One of the most active forms of Metarecycling through the years occured by means of the frequent assembly of workshops and installation of laboratories in communities with few access to communication technologies. Beyond the proposal of dealing with the machines themselves (assemblage/dismounting and repurposing of computers", the MetaRecycling network presented an important artistic vein, configuring itself in the most efficient channel of appropriation in the comunities in which it was present /.../ From that moment on, it was not only possible to assemble your own computer gaining and sharing knowledge, but also to redecorate, paint CPUs, monitors and other pieces. Thus, the action of appropriation evolved from the act of transforming gray coloured pieces, cold and with some meaning, not anymore in a simple tool or computer that could be reutilized, but in something new, different, in new tools, unique, created as a subjective production by users and workshop attendants".

One aspect of this metarecycled computers that differentiates then from similar procedures is their colorful and customized design, that introduces an element that deviates from the generic format of digital equipments that were current when the project started. They are pieces of equipment not biased by processing power and other tech specs, and suggest a culture of usage that deviates from the traditional industrial methods of creating technology. There is also an informal / ludic tone, that somehow related to the broader concept of Gambiarra, extensively presented by Ricardo Rosas on the article "The Gambiarra - Considerations on a Recombinatory Technology": http://www.sescsp.org.br/sesc/videobrasil/up/arquivos/200611/20061117_160212_CadernoVB02_p.36-53_P.pdf.


More information about the empyre mailing list