Until the next PIFcamp!

Friday’s rage claimed several lives: the morning began slowly and drop by drop, but without rain! Katja’s workshop (second part) bore the first fruits. After spending the night in the darkroom, the first cyanotype images appeared: the river in Gambia, a pet dog, river Soča, a mask.

In a full workshop with the locals in Soča town Dario and Darja shared their findings and knowledge. Meanwhile, we were kept under a tent by the last in a series of workshops by Andrew Quitmeyer, where we saw ants in a hitherto unknown role. The colonization of colonies on the body and interfaces as fashion accessories has succeeded. Wearable ants are a hit of the summer season. Dolce & Gabbana is out of fashion, here are Simon & Andrew.

Just after sunset, Vaclav from BASTL showed us how subtle music from DIY instruments can be. For a moment, we wished we could have listened to the mildly dosed rhythms and lyrics in melodious Czech for hours. How do you say ‘more’ in Czech?

The concert was followed by an AV performance by Bernhard and Rob, which included samples from the river’s surroundings and projections on the treetops. It seemed to us that the trees were moving in synth rhythms and rocking us in the hips. The audience went home hyped and ready for the last night in PIFcamp. Julian will take part of the atmosphere from the camp to Bohinjska Bistrica, where he will conduct a microscopy workshop.

The end is near. We are reassured by the thought of Luka’s rotator for potted plants. Until the next PIFcamp-!

All photos © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

It’s Friday!

It’s Friday?! A sultry morning started with the traditional and mandatory PIFcamp hike. Jumping into the pools of the (almost) icy cold Soča was reserved for the bravest and most heated heads. We keep their esteemed names in the editorial office!

In the afternoon, the PIF members continued with their work. Rob Canning is developing a tool for musical performance related to geological processes in the Soča Valley.

Over the past few days, he has been collecting field recordings and sounds of the surrounding landscape. Using the SuperCollider platform for audio synthesis and algorithmic sound composition, he is developing a system that will also be able to process music by other creators. Initially, the research was supposed to lead to the release of a short EP, but PIFcamp opened the opportunity to connect with the research and projects of other participants – Rob will also test the system in Blaž’s DIY ambisonic dome. In line with his previous creative ethics, Rob will make all media available to the public, under a creative commons license (click).

Darja prepared a workshop on hydrolates, tinctures and ointments from medicinal plants (among others Arnika, Rman, Thyme), which were collected by PIFcampers in the past days in the surrounding meadows.

Katja introduced us to cyanotype, one of the earliest photographic processes, and a once popular image transfer process, characterized by the blue color of the final image. That is why it is also called blue printing, and this time it was done on paper. The main compounds are ammonium iron citrate and potassium iron cyanide. Under Katja’s guidance the participants developed their own photos. After the introduction to the chemical process, we set to work. Some have developed images from meadow flowers and – suited to 2020 – from a protective mask! After the chemical process the images have to sunbathe, thus Katja’s workshop will be on the schedule on Saturday as well.

Robertina and Miha tested the protocol of the aquaforensic_2.0 workshop, which they developed together during PIFcamp. As the name of the project suggests, water forensics focuses on often overlooked contents from sea depths. At a lively and informative workshop, the mentors presented the development of the project from the very beginning, when Robertina and Gjino (Šutić – unfortunately absent this year) conducted preliminary field research (Ars Electronica Linz, etc.) and tested the content of pharmacological and toxic contents in rivers and seas. “The pharmaceutical industry is not interested in flushed parts of their medicines,” says Robertina, adding, “this project opens up a view of this silenced part and perhaps this can be a step in a direction of industries thinking more sustainably and less harmful to the environment”. In addition to microscopy of microorganisms, Miha also presented his invention from this year’s camp: sonified TSD sensor that reacts to conductivity and can be used to test liquids. The principle is this: more salt, more music! The maestro added salt by feeling.

Stella and Črt enlivened the evening via a live-stream from Ljubljana, where they performed an audio-video set they were working on at PIFcamp.

Last but not least, the card battles continued this evening as well and were accompanied by an audio-visual impro dessert offered ad-hoc by Rob, Klemens, Bernhard and Anja.

All photos © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

Thursday at PIF!

Early in the morning, eleven PIFcampers and Dingo the dog set off on an eight-hour hike along the off-road trails of the surrounding peaks. Bernhard lost both soles in mountaineering zeal, but the brave hikers agreed upon their return that the shoes were worth destroying for the stunning view from Čisti vrh.

Off-road trails and mountain peaks © Matjaž Rušt

The second group, meanwhile, visited Breginj. The village is situated very close to the Italian border. Here the group visited Mazora Museum Collection, an impressive private collection with 11,000 exhibits from the surrounding area and with an emphasis on both world wars. Breginj also houses the Breginj Museum, a curiosity and one of the rare examples of preserved construction of stone two-storey houses intertwined with porches. After the earthquake that destroyed most of the houses on this side of the border, the houses were replaced with prefabricated ones. The neighboring Italians, chose a different approach and mostly preserved the old villages. The visit to Breginj was followed by a stop in the village of Logje, where the Last Museum of Contemporary Art resides. It is led by visual artist Damijan Kracina, one of the members of the Society for Domestic Research. The cold Nadiža river offered a nice opportunity for cooling down after a long day.

Visit to Mazora Museum © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

Activities also continued in the PIFcamp base: Saša and Tilen Sepič spent Thursday morning in the surrounding forests, where they continued recording inaudible and invisible landscapes of fungi and microbes with geophones, hydrophones, microscope, thermal and infrared camera. The videos will be part of Saša’s MycoMythologies project, a series of ontogenetic mythological stories, video essays, and machines. The series explores the flow of substances in the fungi mycelium.  These serve as an inspiration for a new myth-building practice that would enable us to think differently about the conditions and possibilities of living in capitalist ruins.

© Tilen Sepič

Klemens Kohlweis continued his media archaeological research into EPROM chips (erasable programmable read-only memory), which were used from the 80s to the mid-90s, and are found also in digital drum machines used in Pop music of the time. The characteristic of EPROM chips is that the silicon part is visible and exposed, and the data can be erased with UV light. This process of deletion can take multiple hours, during which you can “play” the chips, explains Klemens, and observe how the data “sounds” when being destroyed.

Klemens also participated in the project of Saša Spačal, who is developing the Light Reader workshop, video tutorial and a lab book. For the lab book Klemens prepared two schematics of the electrical circuit. The Light Reader is a simple physical interface for triggering sound using light. Its technological principle was developed and used in Saša’s biotechnological sound art installation Mycophone_unison in 2013. The Light Reader is now also available on Github: https://github.com/okelk/Light-Reader

Klemens and Saša at work © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

Luka completed his solar powered rotator for houseplants, while Blaž tested the DIY ambisonic dome, which we have already reported on in previous posts.

Plant rotator © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

Andrew Quitmeyer, a mentor for an interactive ant-farms workshop, gave an online lecture in the afternoon on the safe placement of ant colonies on the body. Thursday was dedicated also to searching for anthills in the area and gathering ants.

Andrew lecturing about ants © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

Yet another productive day at PIFcamp was concluded by an evening sitting by a fire, playing cards, and enjoying improvised video and laser projections.

© Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

…less rain and more fun!

Wednesday finally brought slightly better weather so the morning walk with Dario took place on schedule, and the harvested plants spiced up lunch and dinner.

PIFcamp-goers continued to develop their projects and research: Robertina Šebjanič and Miha Godec, who are preparing a lab book for conducting aqua_forensic 2.0 workshops, have assembled a TDS sensor, which measures water conductivity. The degree of conductivity was sonified via an electronic circuit. Robertina and Miha hiked with Saša Spačal and Rob Canning to the Lepena valley, where they created field sound recordings. Blaž Pavlica joined in as well and he will use the recorded material in his DIY ambisonic dome project. On the dome, which was developed and used as part of PifLab and past PIFcamps, a matrix of eight speakers is installed – a diy system for reproducing the ambisonics, a spherical spatial-sound format that allows immersive representation of the sound field.

Soundscapes at Šunikov gaj © Miha Godec
Rob Canning working on his field recordings © Miha Godec

Lovrenc was busy working on his weather station – cleaning 3D printed elements and programming the Arduino and Raspberry. The lesson of the day: “Don’t update Linux!”, Says Lovrenc, who due to this fatal mistake spent significantly more time for programming than planned. The weather station, which will be connected to the network of amateur stations Weather Underground and installed here in Soča, will measure wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity, and will also be equipped with a camera. In the future, the station can be upgraded with air quality and CO2 sensors as well. 

Test measurements at 8 PM (CET): 19 degrees / 148 hectopascals / 1.42 km/h

Lovrenc at work © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

The afternoon was marked by workshops and presentations. Julian’s introduction to microscopy introduced various DIY and professional lenses and devices, we then used to look at soil and compost samples from the immediate surroundings. Julian Chollet is collaborating with the DIY soil photogrammetry project at PIF. On Sunday (after the end of this year’s camp) he will conduct a Humus Sapiens field workshop in Bohinjska Bistrica as part of the konS platform.

Intro to microscopy © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

In the tent, the initial part of the remote workshop with Maggie Kane aka Streetcat.media took place. In the coming days the workshop will introduce the participants to the principles of designing narrative video games in the coming days. An enthusiastic cosplayer and versatile artist who gets bored at concerts, as Maggie described herself, presented various examples of how artists can use  “sick visuals and interactivity” of video games to enrich their concerts, performances and other events to increase audience engagement.

Maggie Kane’s remote workshop © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

As part of their μπA (micropia) project, the Beam Team (Stella Ivšek and Anja Romih) researched ways of mapping video projections on natural objects and, in collaboration with Tilen Sepič, who prepared an improvised music set, also tested them in an experimental evening performance on the shore of river Soča. The live performance took place in an intimate atmosphere – due to the slippery terrain, only a handful of PIFcampers could attend. Thanks to the diligent video team the documentation of the event will soon be available to internet public as well. 

The weather forecast for the coming days is promising, so in addition to the many activities that are yet to happen, we are “looking forward to less rain and more fun”, as Luka concluded at the end of the day. Tomorrow, he will finally be able to test his solar cell-powered rotator for houseplants.

Beam Team & Tilen Sepič © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

PIFcamp 2020: The early rain catches the strom

After a rainy morning in the village of Soča Peaks (to listen to the soundtrack click here), the planned hike with Dario Cortese was postponed until the afternoon. Such sweet mornings under a tent are ideal for documenting, which is also this year’s umbrella theme of PIFcamp. In cooperation with the PIFcamp video team (Jure Lavrin, Tilen Sepič, Domen Ožbot, Katja Goljat and Matjaž Rušt), the participating PIF-goers put on display their artistic and / or research process, part of which is also being developed within the camp.

2020 realness © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

Documentation, often underestimated in the culture of makers and hackers, the rain was the first good excuse to commence work on archiving. Under the safe roof of a tent, the future archives of the following PIF-goers were created: Julian Chotell’s DIY-Soil-Photogrammetry, which is an attempt to use photography as a tool in exploring the earth, with the help of modified scanners. Robertina Šebjanič and Miha Godec in the aqua_forensics project developed water forensics experiments with the help of drugs found in rivers and seas. The second part of the project is in vitro experiments and verification of the emerging lab book.

Aqua forensics in the making © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

The first morning workshop on botanics in the wild, led by Dario and Darja, took place under a tent, where wild plants were given two new roles: in form of a toothpaste and a healing cream. In the afternoon sunny hours, the classroom moved to the neighboring hill Lemovje, where Dario and Darja presented edible and poisonous wild plants on a hike in situ (among others: thyme, sage, cloves, long-leafed mint, yarrow, horsetail, sage, wild garlic, St. John’s wort).

Plant hub with Dario and Darja © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

The sun rays lured Blaž Pavlica and his assistants to set up a dome for distributed perception. This time, Blaž will use it to create a DIY spatial-sound format that transmits sound above and below the listeners. The first attempts will follow in the coming days!

PIFcamp 2020: Will you PIFcamp me?

Once again (the 6th time already!) PIFcamp gathered makers, hackers, tech freaks, and nature lovers in a semi-remote location of Upper Soča valley. This year, the Covid-safe edition with about 35 participans remains in a pocket format on the location, but is big on-line, with several live streaming of presentations and workshops. Hiking, however, remains in the domain of real presence. Europe’s most popular hack and maker summer camp also happens offline!


Kick-off, day one © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

Kick-off of this edition, according the camp’s main organizer Tina, resembled the “family gatherings”. The old faces of PIFcamp mixed with the few new ones. The pristine Soča valley welcomed the participants from the neighboring countries (Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic) and the global followers online. After short presentations of the participants, the Sunday evening was devoted to timetable-building, orientational walks, and first talks among camp-goers. The opening day was topped with a mouth-watering dinner by tandem cooks Klemen Košir & Miha Tumpej.

Klemen Košir & Miha Tumpej, the cooking team
© Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

On the second day, a morning walk with artists Robertina Šebjanič and Miha Godec included collecting water samples and video shooting of the scenic Soča river and walking towards Koritenska jezera. Šebjanič will present updated version of her aqua_forensic project at the camp and share some insights at the workshop later in the week. We are looking forward also to Dario Cortese’s traditional hikes focused on collecting wild edible plants that will culminate in a Plant hub, a sort of crash course in wild botanics.

Yard tent © Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

All the way from Panama, the familiar PIFcamp-goer, a scholar and the enthusiast Dinacon maker Andrew Quitmeyer held a video call in the PIFcamp yard about ants, ant sensor and ant ecosystem that are his main interest for the past 10 years. Myrmecorpora is Quitmeyer’s 6-day workshop for wearable interactive ant farms. The workshop that will be held online and facilitated by Simon Gmajner offline will end with a fashion show of wearable ant-farm. Andrew’s ant licking quotes escalated on PIFcamp memes. Isn’t this fANTastic?

Testing video streaming equipment © Kaja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt

The super informative, hands-on evening lecture held by Bernhard Reisinger and live-streamed with the help of Vaclav Peloušek introduced us to oscilloscope, sound and its visualizations. Oscilloscope, “an instrument that allows you to play” enables you to see the visual representation of sound that for Bernhard is much more playful than a laser system based on mirror reflection. Sound and visuals to play. Is there a better way to start the week?

Wearable Interactive Ant-farms at PIFcamp!

Design your own wearable ant farms!

About the project

Ants are Earth’s dominant animal, but their ubiquitous networks go unnoticed by humans. This project helps us feel their presence, by viscerally connecting us to a superorganism. MYRMECORPORA is a project to explore ants by living intimately with them, and designing ant farms we can wear on our bodies. The goal is to embed a human into the superorganism in a way that both creatures can sense and understand the living flows of each other.

We will redesign traditional scientific formicaria (ant-farms) into small wearable devices. Form factors like watches, hats, shoes, epaulets, and more will be created with embedded sensors that monitor the movements and ambient features of the enclosed colonies (e.g. respiration, temperature). The sensed data is then mapped to haptic actuators (such as electro-tactile-stimulators, vibration-motors, Peltier-heaters) to allow the human to feel real-time changes in the attached colony as the ants eat, sleep, forage, and reproduce. Challenges are how to design intimate apparel that houses ants near the human body while also keeping the colony safe and healthy.

Also, since it’s PIFcamp, we will probably end up with some cool ant-synths.

Activities

Participants will engage in series of workshops and learn about:
• Collecting ant colonies
Rearing ant colonies
Designing homes for ants
• Sensing Ants

Schedule

The project will be carried out at Panama & PIFcamp in several stages. You are invited to join the workshop from your garden, nearby park, forest or even facilitate the workshop in your local community!

July – Panama Experimentation
Andy will be working to develop some basic prototypes and testing out some techniques for collecting, housing, and sensing ants.
These early prototypes are evaluated regarding the human-user interactions, varying ant-species, and the comfort and safety of the ant colonies.

ONLINE – INTRO DAY 1: Wearable Ant Farms
Monday AUG 3 at 5PM CEST | 3PM UTC
We will have an online workshop sharing techniques for how you can collect your own ant colonies.

DAY 2: Ant sensing
Tuesday AUG 4 at 5PM CEST | 3PM UTC
We will have an online chat demonstrating ways to add sensors and computer vision to monitor the movements of your ants in real time.

ONLINE – DAY 2-4: Participant Collecting and Housing
Participants have time to collect a colony and get to know their ants.

ONLINE – DAY 4: Wearable Ant Farms
Thursday AUG 6 at 5PM CEST | 3PM UTC
We will have an online workshop exploring how to safely attach ant colony’s as fashionable and useful wearable items.

ONLINE – DAY 6: Final Superorganismal Fashion Show
Saturday AUG 8 at 5PM CEST | 3PM UTC
During the traditional final day of PIFcamp, participants can show and demonstrate the amazing cybernetic superorganismal devices they have created.

Tools & materials & code

Core Materials List

  • 10-25 red SMD leds (10-25 per person) or just a bunch of the smallest red LEDs you can find (KEEP THEM RED! Ants can’t really see red, and we don’t want to disturb them at any point!)
  • lots of 100-200ohm resistors
  • perfboard
  • breadboard
  • solid core wire (for soldering to the perfboards and connecting to breadboards or Arduino)
  • soldering irons and solder (especially with thin tips for SMD soldering)
  • Arduino (Uno or whatever you have)
  • lots of clear tubes of 1-2cm diameter (vinyl or silicone tubing)
  • cotton balls (we can use to plug up tubes and give ants moisture)
  • collecting vials with lids (or any kind of small plastic containers you can gather insects with)
  • simple grease, 3-in-1 oil or WD-40 kind (used for keeping ants in open containers and stopping them from crawling out)

For those who want more

  • Teensy 3.2 (they have 11 analog inputs each, they are more powerful and can easily turn into music interfaces or keyboards or mic, so you can hook your ants up to lots of stuff easily!)
  • Photoresistors (tiny ones)
  • Infrared LEDs (small or SMD)
  • Analog multiplexers (if you want to make arrays with more sensors than the analog inputs on your Arduino has)
  • Arduino Mega (16 analog inputs) or Teensy 3.6 (has 23 analog inputs!)
  • 3D printer and filaments to print out some connectors, sensor holders, and even full on ant farms
  • 3 inch/7.7 cm squares of thin acrylic (to use as standard clear covers for ant farms)
  • very thin, flexible sheets of FLUORESCENT plastic (the kind that looks like it basically glows at the edges)
  • Agar agar, vitamins & protein folks who are into cooking can make foods for ants
  • some small shovels and a bucket for hardcore folks who want a whole colony
  • Bonus Materials List: Fiber optic bundles
  • Bonus Materials List: TPU (flexible filament) and 3D printer pens

Code is available here: https://github.com/Digital-Naturalism-Laboratories/AttaSense

Credits & How to join

MYRMECORPORA – Wearable Interactive Ant-farms is a project by Andrew Quitmeyer (Dinacon). The workshop will be led by Andrew from Panama and facilitated by Simon Streljaj Gmajner at PIFcamp. Below you can find all the necessary tools and materials you need if you want to join the remote workshop and easily participate from wherever you are.

For easier communication we suggest you send an email to pifcamp@ljudmila.org and we can update you about the streams and progress on the daily basis, or follow this blog post for updates!

Documentation

MycoMythological Research by Saša Spačal

“MycoMythological machines were assembled to tap into the underground flow, the data poured out of the flow and with it numerous stories. No matter where the flow was sampled, there the stories were, pouring out of the mycelium network together with much needed nutrients. There were many whispers, but some stories seemed the same as they trickled out of hyphae in chunks and pieces. Almost as a repetitive mantra that loops and loops, however they were never completely the same, there were always glitches of differences as if they would be assembled again and again like some sort of distant memory and then murmured by the machine.”

MycoMythologies is a series of ontogenetic mythological stories, video essays and machines by Saša Spačal. Series researches the multilayered question of how mushrooms can help humans think possibilities of entangled life in capitalist ruins. MycoMythologies as speculative artistic research thinks not only about what fungal underground networks can teach humans but also how technologies define the teachings we receive.   

During PIFcamp Saša Spačal will be focusing on visual and sound technologies that reach beyond human perceptive abilities. She will be developing a Light reader synth workshop, video tutorial and lab book, while recording inaudible and invisible MycoMythological landscapes of fungi and microbes with geophones, hydrophones, microscope, thermal and infrared camera.

MycoMythologies series is supported by Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, Toby Kiers Laboratory at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Projekt Atol. 

Can online music performances be fun?

Since the lockdown situation might become the new normal I would like to investigate various ways how musical performances could happen in the online space. I have already made one piece with 3D scan of my studio situated in an virtual environment randomly edited with live shots of my performance. I would like to explore deeper in this territory by looking at gaming engines and several other 3D and sound platforms and share my findings and learn from others how this could be approached.

This is a research project by Václav Peloušek (Toyota Vangelis/Bastl Instruments).