Audio-visual laboratory

Composer and musician John Richards (Dirty Electronics) has brought his DIY text-to-noise synth to Trenta. In his art circuit, he is wanting to feed into it various texts and debates taking place at this year’s PIFcamp and displaying them on an embedded LCD screen. With PIF participants he was sharing his knowledge of the electronics, design of electronic circuits and construction of analogue and digital instruments. Also, variants of an instrument he named Bad of Nails were made at his workshop. For the development of which they have used materials found in the camp’s surroundings – bricks, wood, stones and the like. As he said, great fun was had while designing a radical chip for crazy low-level computer music. With minimal resources, it was done together with Staš Vrenko and Klemens Kohlweis and they hope to play it live for us.

Another regular visitor to the camp, Staša Guček, has been further developing her last yeas project MOTHeremin. She has created as many as three theremins for the blind and partially sighted, based on drawings of endangered butterflies of Slovenia. Slovenian interdisciplinary artist and programmer Tadej Droljc has made some serious strides into the development of his latest audio-visual composition here. For a project, we will be publicly presenting for the first time in Ljubljana in December, he made a circuit that can control higher voltage devices via an Arduino and has developed a converter that converts audio and laser ILDA signals.

In the surrounding of the beautiful Soča river valley, the musician and performer Janus Aleš Luznar (Yanoosh) wanted to upgrade his inter-media performance Ictuscordis, the main subject of which is his heart or heartbeat. He tried to create a sensor for sensing the heartbeat of the dancer, which in the future he wants to incorporate into the performance, thus upgrading the visual element of the performance. However, he says, time will not allow him to finish the project, the first version of which was developed last year with the help of PIFcamp.

For his spatial multi-channel audio performance musician Mitja Cerkvenik developed a midi controller with automation. And the continuation of past visual investigations of light and shadow on a moving textile surface has been undertaken by designer Kaja Kisilak and architect Lea Bradašević. Their analogue type of visuals, which for example used to be part of the Loudspeaker Alliance concert performance in the past, has now been upgraded so that the work of stretching and moving the fabric is taken over by electric motors that will create moire optical effects.

Also, other interesting musical and visual experiments are being made on the camp – projects that are one way or another related to music.

Active start

The annual exploratory trips around the camp guided by our wild man and nutrition expert, Dario Cortese, with whom we are getting to know various edible wild plants, have been upgraded this year. We are working to systematically mark the habitats of the surrounding edible wild plants. The first mapping have already taken place on the way to the abandoned village of Lemovje, located on a hill and featuring some spectacular vistas.

This year we strive to establish guidelines for a holistic approach to the understanding of our relationship to food, which has always been an important part of the camp. Some experiments with fermentation and bread baking are ongoing. Also, in a playful way food is also the focal point of a soon to be completed board game. The board game’s originators Grace Wong and Jennifer Katanyovtamant try to encourage its players to try new flavours (natto, durian, kimchi …), to make new combinations of flavours and above all, to talk about food.

Scott Kildall, an American conceptual and multimedia artist, communicates in a very unique way. By positioning various response sensors and creative electronics at different points around the camp and manipulating sound material he is recording here, he is constantly setting new and humorous tones to our surrounding. 

Possible layouts of modular outdoor mobile furniture, that would allow for participants to work, rest or spend some time even closer to nature are of interest to a group gathered around  the Greek architect Olivia Kotsifa, whose prime interest is in co-creating these possible environments of the future. With an enthusiastic group of fellows Olivia has already checked up some possible locations to set the furniture up.

The German nomadic scientist with a background in molecular biology Julian Cholle has immediately buried his hands in the ground. Visiting the camp with a desire to study and explore the soil, which he otherwise does in the context of the open research platform HUMUS sapiens, he took some samples of soil. Examined under the microscope they indicated that the soil around the camp is alive and full of microorganisms that assist in biodegradation.

Although most PIFparticipans work on their projects, there is a lot of collaboration and idea-sharing. The relaxed atmosphere and openness of the participants allow for creative exchange, validation of ideas, as well as solving completely practical and abstract problems.

A tribe of digital nomads

In the Valley of the beautiful Soča, a river situated in the unspoiled nature of the Triglav National Park, around fifty domestic and foreign multimedia artists, programmers, engineers, theorists and scientists gathered for the fifth year in a row. They embarked on a week-long journey at a summer hacking camp, working on projects at the intersection of art, science, technology, innovation and open knowledge. 

As every year, selected internationally renowned mentors are an important part of the camp, acting in a network of projects as nodes and critically addressing the field of community work, creative electronics, interactive technologies, and learning in nature. And since the camp is designed according to the principle of horizontal knowledge-sharing, the participants already familiarized themselves with the projects they intend to undertake.

The kick-off day started with participants getting familiarized with the surroundings and above all – getting to know each other. After a delicious dinner we had, the day shifted into the night with the sound of music, as the first jam session took place. Our thoughts were full of expectations of the things to come as we concluded our first day enjoying the warmth of the campfire.

PIFcamp 2016 – Day 6

_MG_4371Most had a late start on the last day in Trenta. After another in a series of fine breafasts, which were prepared by Urša and Polona with the occasional help of Ahac, the first visitors arrived to the campsite.

The first to arrive were last year’s participants, friends and acquaintances… Some, for example a group of girls from the newly-established band ČIPKE, didn’t just come to look at the projects, but worked on their own new instruments.

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Throught the day some finished their projects, others presented them to the crowd, and once again the earthquake simulation made us cheer!

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In the afternoon we started a fire, grilled meats, fooled around, told stories… It was merry.

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Dario unveiled his bagpipe and improvised with other PIFmusicians.

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The DJ of the evening was Blaž, who managed to entice even the wounded ones to the floor, even if just for a moment or two. His music was accompanied with VJ-jing by Marko Vivoda (Izland) and Alexander Zaklynsky.

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Aljoša Abrahamberg came to record some material for his show about conteporary art on the local television, based in Nova Gorica.

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Sad, that it is over, we said our goodbyes to Trenta and left her enriched with new knowledge and new friends. A big thanks goes to all who came and made all this unforgetable moments possible, all our sponsors, donators and funders, and above all to Tina and Uroš, who made it happen.

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PIFcamp2016 – Day 5

After breakfast all PIFparticipants were obliged to go on a trip towards the Great Gorge (org. Velika korita). A short walk took us to one of those dream-like destinations one never forgets. There some tried kayaking, others jumped from the cliffs and some just sat and enjoyed the hypnotic color of the Soča river.

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When we returned back to camp it was time for lunch and desserts. A delicious cake, made a day in advance by Polona, was served as a birthday present to Peter, John and Lio. Tasty treats are definitely one of the features of this year’s camp, the cake was followed by an incredible fruit halva. 

The short break proved a great opportunity to do some sports; a frisbee, a kite and a slackline made an appearence.

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_MG_4236Work on the projects continued. Hannah gave an introduction to e-textiles and also familiarized us with the webpage How to get what you want in order to encourage everybody to make as many electronic parts as possible by ourselves and don’t just buy those made in the factories. This principle enables one to have greater control and flexibility in order to reach desired results. She also made a glove with which she could elude diverse sound for plants by applying different pressure with her fingers.

Leslie and Paloma continued with their translation of energy into sound. On Open Saturday they plan to transform their bio-laboratory into a sound and light bacteria room, where we can hear and see how algae and bacteria, which were grown on PIFcamp, communicate with us.

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Before dinner and just before he left the camp Brgs presented his project. A short jam session then turned into dj-jing, and at some point it seemed all tried to select the most idiotic song they know. But still, dancing continued until sunrise.

Well, we must note the wonderful taste of the local fish that were grilled that evening and made us very happy. But there was also some bitterness, as the week has almost come to its end and with it also PIFcamp.

PIFcamp2016 – Day 4

Another day of early rising for PIFparticipants. We also recieved some morning visitors, among them the crew of Slovenia’s National Television, which plans to cover PIFcamp in a show named Poletna scena (the Summer Scene).

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They were able to share our enthusiasm, when the simulation of earthquake took place. The first try though was unsuccessful, but not uneventful: the sound blasts proved too strong for the speakers and instead of a crumbling building we witnessed smoke. The second try was successful, and we can safely claim Soichiro and his team realized their project. And when they repeated the feat with another type of building in the evening, the demolition was accompanied by loud cheering from the crowd. 

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In the PIFhouse Jože has been making something interesting. He was working with a special kind of Californian algae, as he is interested in their bioluminescence. At the presence of certain mechanical stimuli they emit light. He plans to expose them to differing forces, such as bubbles, sound blasts etc., and capture the resulting patterns with a light-sensitive camera and by prolonged exposure. So check his presentation at PIF’s Open Saturday!

The weather was bad, but that didn’t stop PIFhikers from taking on another hill. Our expert on wild plants and hiking guide took them to the village Skala, which is an important pagan ritual site. The Christians built a chapel on the spot, and one can find peace and quiet there, as soon as he steps through its portal.

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Interspecifics made batteries from the samples they collected in our surroundings. As they concluded, the most energy can be harnessed from the soil located near the cheese dairy in Duplje by the Krn lake. The tent, where their laboratory is set, hosted several other workshops as well, among them the estrogen extraction one by Mary Maggic.

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Our charmingly confused Frenchman also finally got a chance to work on his project. His Mimosa plants, procured from Ljubljana’s Botanical garden, were left in the dark and had to recover. These fragile, tender trees did become more like themselves in time, and Cedric was able to take some measurements of their response to electrical stimuli during the night. He says it is now time to connect them to circuits and translate their responses into light and sounds.

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The project work continues tomorrow, and another tour, this time to Korita, is planned… By the way, Tarock remains the most popular evening activity for those who are trying to relax. And we are getting better and better!

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PIFcamp2016 – Day 3

_MG_3841In the early morning hours one fifth of PIF(l)ars rose to hike to the Krn lake, and there wasn’t one who, seeing it, didn’t want to jump right in. But then, who would not want to take a swim and immerse himself in the mixing mirror-like reflections of the mountain scenery and his own body.  Well, some did dare to get their feet wet and remained there admiring it for some time, while others chose to try and reach Mount Šmohor.

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Hearing the thunderous sound of an approaching storm they were forced to head back and had a wet, albeit refreshing descent to the beautiful Lepena valley. Naturally, not before they also took various samples for further examination and analysis: some soil, some snow from the glacier, water from the Krn lake. They were trying to find out what kind of microorganisms could be found on different geolocations.

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Mary caught a toad on the way up the hill. She took a sample of its urine, and when her misplaced portable laboratory arrives from the airport, she plans to extract the hormones it contains.

Another laboratory though has already been set up in the PIFtent by Paloma and Leslie of the Interspecifics collective, and the PIFparticipants that use it have made a breeding ground for bacteria from agar, soup cubes and sugar.

Throughout the whole day individuals prepared everything needed to print their own personalized circuits, some of which will be formed on the basis of the plants they gathered while hiking.

After yesterday’s drilling, sawing and concrete-making session, the sound simulator of the well-remembered earthquake in Posočje is taking shape.

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Some very interesting patterns were weaved on printed circuit boards. We installed a speaker into a hollow tree. Marko Vivoda from the Slovenian visual collective Izland focused on the development of his idea how to “build” a column from soap bubbles that could be filled with smoke and he could project light on to them.

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Many projects, like the one from the Slovenian musician Jaka Berger – Brgs, focused on sound. He finished his envisioned optimization of a guitar, built on a drum and a feedback speaker. A highly productive nomad like him, who performs on numerous stages, needs to own a set of instruments, which are innovative, as well as easy to transport.

An oscillator was in the making until late hours, a light and sound sensitive and responsive robot is being built, an obsolete doorbell was hacked, a telephone transformed into a microphone. Work on modular synthesizers continued… 

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After dinner it was time for Vaclav from BASTL Instruments to familiarize us with his own impressive modular synth.

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In short, the projects, tackled with ingenuity and determination, are definitely taking their shape, so they can be presented on Saturday’s open event.

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PIFcamp2016 – Day 2

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The second day began relatively slowly for most participants. One by one the last remaining hackers arrived, and jumped right into action. Hannah Perner-Wilson, an artist from Austria, who explores the field of e-textiles with various creative approaches for example started sewing pockets for her portable tool storage system right away.

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Leslie Garcia and Paloma López from the Mexican artist collective Interspecifics held a demonstration of the EEG experiments for mapping brain activity and a presentation of their plan to build microbiological filters for tracking microorganisms. Of course, all participants took time to focus on their specific projects. Persistent sawing and drilling sounds could be heard in one corner, and one could also help preparing concrete.

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Mike Page, who with his playful attitude and fun project definitely left his mark on last year’s PIFcamp, held an etching workshop, and practically everyone was soldering diverse electronic components, which by the end of the week will end up in modular synthesizers.

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Part of the PIFgroup chose to step out into the wild and pick edible wild plants; along with the usual specimens like Wild carrots and Wild thyme this time they also brought back plants like Red clover and Mountain cumin. And we have to note: our PIFchefs really do make mind-blowing meals for us geeks, and even desserts aren’t missing or lacking. Tereza, Vid, Bojana and Dario, bravi maestri!

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When there is so much work being done and the atmosphere is so cheerful one hardly notices when day turns into night. And since the workday culminated in a music jam, you can imagine the night was quite long. Looking forward to another day!

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PIFcamp 2016 has begun

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The Soča valley has been overrun by PIF(l)ars (nerds aka PIFparticipants in the local lingo). A weekend of preparations, initial explorations of the beautiful surroundings and introductions is behind us, but the PIFadventure really started only yesterday.

Breakfast was followed by the initial meet-up and the presentations of participants with their projects, and the afternoon was spent in building workstations. The first workshops also took place, among them we tackled hacking more or less complex locks under the guidance of John Maushammer.

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A group of PIFparticipants went for a short hiking tour in the direction of the deserted mountain village Lemovje. Heading the group was our familiar PIFcomrade Dario Cortese, with the help of whom we have had the opportunity to glimpse into the bountiful world of edible plants in our surroundings, of course mostly those that are predominantly safe to digest. Some, for example Bellflowers, Wild carrots, Winter savory, Ground elder and Wild thyme, ended up in a truly tasty omelette.

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After dinner most focused on workshops; the one that drew the biggest crowd was making PCBs, but some also chose to indulge in various games.

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Despite #Changing weathers, we are more than ready to rise to the challenge of a week-long search for creative solutions to stimulating problems.

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PIFcamp is over

On Sunday the first PIFcamp has officially come to its end. We said our goodbyes with high hopes of meeting again. We are proud to mark the first PIFcamp as successful and can slowly start preparing for the next one. Until then ciao to everyone and loads of hacking for all!

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