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Sometimes you see something and think – how is that achievable? Stone Balancing by Gravity Glue is one of them! Michael Grab treads a fine line between art, design and engineering; using nature as his backdrop to pursue his challenging passion. Michael took time out from climbing mountains, roaming rivers and stepping through trickling streams to chat about his work and how it connects to engineering and design. 

1) Can you briefly sum up what Gravity Glue is?

“’Gravity Glue’ is the name I created to describe my stone balance art, it basically translates to Balance Art by Michael Grab. The name derived from people stopping and asking me if my creations were glued, because they usually involve such precarious and often unbelievable balance. Gravity is the only ‘glue’, which in a strange way seems to encompass a relationship between all things. I also chose it because it’s catchy, easy to remember and rolls like a mantra.”

2) How did you discover Stone Balancing and did a prior profession/experience inspire you?

“Yikes, I guess the first time I began balancing was in the midst of expanding my consciousness. It was a summer afternoon, I was hanging out at the creek with a friend and looking for a black mineral called obsidian. Things evolved into ‘stacking’ rocks, which quickly developed onto ‘balancing’, so I guess initial inspiration was just being at the creek. The sound of rushing water has a way of encouraging meditation, which is a core element with stone balance.”

3) People say that ‘problem solving’ plays a big role in Stone Balancing, so other than gravity, what important factors are needed to make this work?

“Infinite variables, always, as I am working with nature! With the rocks themselves, for me, it’s forever a problem solving activity to coordinate all these unique ‘packets’ of gravity into a beautiful pattern. The vibrations are a very simple logical problem – always centring something between 3 vertices, sets or strings of vertices, skill and style evolve naturally through practice.”

“Other than the rocks, nature is wiggly, and sometimes it’s more difficult to build in some spots versus others. Most of time I’m playing into earth’s rhythms somehow, as I align some kind of rock arrangement with external variables such as sunset, moonrise, weather (wind speed/direction), tides, snow melts, rain, various light (for photo/video) etc… not to mention managing all the complex photo/video gear I’m working with these days. Then if you add travelling into the equation, that’s a whole other realm of problem solving. Haha – I guess to make it all work, you have to have heart, patience and courage to attempt the ‘impossible’.”

4) Would a knowledge of or a skillset in Civil Engineering, Architecture or Design help with what you do?

“Hmmm… perhaps, more so in an artistic sense. A very basic knowledge of classical physics might help to conceptualise the physical balance. I’ve always had a love for architecture and design, and also how things work, which plays heavily into my creation. Curiosity often leads me to new insights but it’s not really a formula that I can describe. My architecture and design background simply plays into my sense of what’s beautiful.”

5) Stone Balancing can be categorised into several styles; stacking, balance, counterbalance, arch and freestyle – do you adopt a specific style and if so, why?

“I’d say it can be broken down into two main categories: Stacking & Balancing, the rest can fit within these two categories – they are not mutually exclusive. most of my arrangements of 3+ rocks involve some kind of blend of stacked and balanced elements. An arch is generally a sub order of stacking. There is almost always some kind of counterbalance happening, whether it’s obvious or not, unless it’s just one rock on a tip. the terminology is limited in relation to the experience, but in general, I see stacking as broader, more stable contacts, easier to achieve. Balance is more finely tuned – smaller contacts usually take a bit more practice to achieve.”

6) What would you say are the biggest challenges faced in Stone Balancing?

“Weather.”

7) What gives you the most satisfaction?

“Finally reaching the “zero point” on an arrangement, and especially if it’s in rhythm with photographic elements. Rocks balanced with sunset, sometimes I scratch my head pondering how the hell I made each work in its respective time and place, especially while travelling. It’s incredibly satisfying, considering all the infinite variables that had to play out to crystallise each vision.”

8) Is there a particular project/piece of art that stands out for you?

“Some here and there, but they’re all special. It’s impossible to choose a favourite because looking back at the photos, each experience feels like a vivid dream.”

9) Is there a final goal or something you’d eventually like to achieve through Gravity Glue?

“No not really, it’s purely a zen practice, kind of like my yoga. My hope is to continue travelling and make art along the way! For now, I sometimes teach or perform live but generally I like to simply do my thing in a peaceful place. The stone arrangements themselves? I guess they are an ode to such a core aspect of nature, which we as humans seem to lack – BALANCE. They also share the idea that impossible is nothing, which is a powerful realisation for a person to feel.”

“‘Gravity Glue’ has also become a bit of an archetype at this point as well, the ‘follow your curiosity/passion’ archetype for life in general – huge risks lead to great things, like now, through following my passion for the last 9 years or so I get to make my own schedule; wake up when I feel and go to ‘work’ (play) when I feel. Respectively, the lifestyle is not without its inherent uncertainty…which I believe also makes it rich with experience and feeling.”

“Gravity Glue represents a way of life doing what one loves – creating something from nothing and living via one’s passion, following intuition and curiosity. It’s that risk of breaking away from societal constructs and pressures like careers, becoming a digital nomad or romancing life in general.”

10) Any final last words…

You can check out more of Michael’s magical work by heading over to the Gravity Glue website or Facebook page. Seeking work in Engineering? Browse the technical jobs hosted by our agency brand, Astra Recruitment.

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