Gambiologia – Brazilian Physical Item Hacking

Gambiologia, according to the source article, is the “science of Gambiarra.” For those not from Brazil, Gambiarra is “a Brazilian cultural practice of solving problems creatively in alternative ways with low cost and lots of spontaneity.” In other words, the hacking of real-world items. Gambiarra also has a connection to recycling, as instead of throwing something used out, it becomes something else new.

Although hacking may not be thought of as art in the traditional sense, [Fred Paulino] aims to change this with his exhibition of 20 Brazilian and international artists. A “Gambiologist” himself, he’s put together quite a collection of hacks and mods for the world to see. From computer monitors with eyes displayed on them, to a toilet held open with a two-by-four, his exhibit seems to cover a wide range of physical hacks, or Gambiarra.

Be sure to check out the article, as many of the hacks are quite clever or unusual (even if some may seem a bit unsafe). For more examples of hacking items into something new, check out this drill made out of a pencil sharpener or this remote control camera trigger using air freshener parts.

13 thoughts on “Gambiologia – Brazilian Physical Item Hacking

  1. Stateside, the masses dont trust kludges… or anything lacking iPod polish, for that matter.


    Here, money is thrown at problems and DIY fixes are looked down upon as being ‘lower class solutions’. I detest this notion, as anyone can BUY solutions, however, it takes some creativity and knowledge to fix something yourself. I hope ‘Gambiarra’ finds acceptance in the States… maybe then my asshole roommate will stop asking me if im building a bomb every time i pull out my soldering iron…

  2. I’ve been doing this stuff for years, I just replaced a missing part on my laptop with a tin plate and electrical tape from the dollar store, hey it works! Reminds me of Afrotech Mods

    And remember if necessity is the mother of invention then poverty is the mother of the kludge.

  3. Congratulations to fellow gambiologist! :-) The met here, in Brazil, a very interesting meeting the “Ciclo Hack” at SESC-SP Pompeia – where they had several groups of hard-hacking, hack labs and digital art and personal Gambiologia was one of the highlights!

    Very cool!

    @HackADay, excelente post!


  4. Even in the USA this so ordinary on a daily basis as well, it’s a big yawn. Yeah I know that goes against the common wisdom of certain group of “elite” here in the USA.;)

  5. yea, how is tying your audio cable up with a candywrapper a “hack” or even “art”? And attaching an electric drill to the end of a drillbit that’s also attached to a hand-powered drill? Way to make three perfectly good tools useless. the ZOMG TRANSCENDANT phraseology is getting old too. Great, you made a kuldge. get over yourself, it’s still a kludge, and most of these are trivial at best.

    Some of the items posted qualify as art installations, but a styrofoam cooler on a wheelbarrow? Wow, I took something made for keeping things cold and put it on top of something that moves things. GENIOUS SOLUTION for moving cold things.

  6. “Gambiarra” is widely used in Brazil as a dysphemism for “Hacks” and other “Workarounds” (pejoratively) both in Hardware and Software Development circles…

    I tend to avoid the term when referring to other people’s work…

  7. Well since nobody brought this up I feel I should say: the term ‘gambiarra’ here has a much broader meaning; from putting a book beneath the leg of a chair to make it still, to the hacking posted here on HaD. The thing is, the people here often do very ingenuous hacking based on ‘gambiarras’, just as an example my father developed a lever to increase the height of the wires my mom puts clothes to dry; he developed and made it from scratch, and it works quite well.
    Either way, if this should be considered art I wouldn’t know, but it’s useful as it is.

  8. Yeah, well everywhere else this is called duct-tape engineering, ThereIFixedIt style (or more likely, lack thereof), and it’s about as much a “science” as “solarbotics” ever was.

  9. Hey guys! I’m a Brazilian fan of the site. The post is nice, but here in Brazil the meaning of the word “gambiarra” is a bit different of what you understood. A “gambiarra” is a patch used as a rough-and-ready temporary solution (usually improvised) that ends up been definitive.

  10. I am brazilian, and as some brazilian guys already stated, gambiarra is a lot like what you can see at thereIfixedit. It is a cheap workaround to solve problems. Sometimes we manage to see something really clever, cheap, and with a very good perfomance. Appereance is not a must as you can see…

    Since most of the people here at south america have a smaller budget than you guys from north america have, we have to find other ways to solve stuff (buying a new one is not an option)…

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