aspect-ratio 10x9 “Rest & Peace,” final project by Adam Gawel

“Rest & Peace,” final project by Adam Gawel (© Adam Gawel, HfG Karlsruhe)

First you become quiet and attentive, realizing at once that something intricate is going on here. You stop a few steps from the platform to watch the scene as a whole: constructions of steel and plastic standing on a broad, low base. 

The individual elements seem to be connected. There is some movement, more or less visible. A whirring and clattering, more or less audible, swirls around you, apparently produced by the movements. A continuous rhythmic pattern in movement and sound can be made out. The scene gives the impression of a stage performance that started before you came and will go on after you leave. But this is no portrayal of dramatic virtuosity; it is a performance of maintenance, upkeep, everyday gestures.

Steel forms a structure that sets itself in motion or provides a scaffold for constantly working mechanical elements: four rods quiver in the air, vertically anchored to their frame; a column slowly slides diagonally up and down; a suspended cable balances a tripod; a rod skitters over a piece of plastic film laid out flat; another, thicker rod rotates unhurriedly, moving across the base; undefinable small pieces jiggle on motors; a tiny white lever raises a tiny blue box lying on a black plate.

Constructed machines and motorized movement have gained prominence in the art field primarily thanks to Jean Tinguely. His sculptures and fountains evoke anthropomorphic associations, just like Adam Gawel’s machines, and they are just as far from the smooth presentation of high-tech robotics. Like them, Gawel’s machines come across as figures doing things, even though they are obviously not living beings. It is precisely their clumsiness and imperfection that lend their actions an intentional, dialogical quality. Yet they seem to be of a more delicate nature than Tinguely’s constructions, more properly placed in the microtechnological context – which makes you step forward for a closer look.

Observation by Mira Hirtz
Supervised by: Prof. Michael Bielicky, Prof. Vadim Fishkin

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