Nathan Adam Beadel is Candidate for an MFA in Printmaking at UW-M Peck School of the Arts. He is the owner of Team Nerd Press, a letterpress poster and print shop in Milwaukee, specializing in hand-carved imagery and hand-set type. His presswork has grown to include wood engraving, woodcuts, bookmaking and collaborations with writers and community organizations. His practice includes teaching print workshops, publishing poets, collaborating with visual artists and designing for clients.
To restore the place of handcrafts in a digital world and increase the craft skills of its maker, The Gravity Computer combines woodworking, bookmaking, and printmaking towards the task of building a computer. A computer’s electronic components are simplified into objects made of wood and paper. paint and ink. This “computer” is in fact a cabinet of curiosities that breaks a computer’s functioning parts and reframes them as objects in a cabinet: an input becomes a coin, the system hardware is a game board, the memory and software are compiled within books and paper programs.
The Gravity Computer is a tapered cabinet with frame-and-panel French doors standing on a two-legged table. The design is inspired by library furniture, 1960’s minicomputers, and incorporates hard-maple, cherry and walnut woods throughout it’s design. The crown of the computer is a polished sculpture of a foot carved from white walnut. Standing on two legs with its doors open wide, it reveals a carnivalesquegame board painted in bright sign enamel. A player drops a wooden coin from the top of the board where it says “RETURN” and follows it’s path down a grid of numbered pegs and labeled spaces. The game board corresponds to a program booklet which the player uses to record and interpret the path of the coin. The numbers and letters chosen by the coin’s path point to list items in the program booklet, which, taken together, produces a result for the player.
The Gravity Computer is successful if it allows a person to suspend their disbelief and laugh. Precision and efficiency are replaced by the subjective experience of the player. Efficiency is lost because the computer doesn’t perform any steps of a task; rather, it provides a chance result within a framework of potential options. It highlights the power usually given over to the computer, forcing an abstract collision between ideas, and requires a player to create their own understanding. It is a device that initiates a new creative process for a player, depicting in miniature the materials that the world presents to us and our position in response.
The Gravity Computer, 2019
5′ x 20″ x 20″
The Gravity Computer Case
Hard Maple, Cherry, Walnut, Baltic Birch, Butternut, Book Cloth, Book Board, Brass Hinges
The Gravity Computer Board
Oak Dowels, One-Shot Sign Enamel, Book Cloth, Basswood Coin