PIFcamp 2018 – Images and Sounds!

The envisioned and realizable PIFprojects are about to be completed. Another contribution to the long list is the Library of Missing Parts and Inclusive Circuits, a humorous database of missing graphic representations, which illustrate our relationship to technology. The sensor building workshop led by Hannah and Vaclav is going along nicely. We managed to build several sensors from textiles, which will sonify our work through modular synthesis.

Klemens Kohlweis is another artist who made it possible to listen to our immediate surroundings. He used several parabolic microphones to isolate and amplify selected sounds at great distances. The sound of wind takes center stage in Juan Duarte’s project Aeolian Artefact. Januš Aleš Luznar (Yanoosh, Ohm Fat) is also fast approaching the rhythm of his heart with the help of two stethoscope-looking  microphones he built at the camp.

Two participants, both working at the intersection of sound and visual art are Connor Haynes, an audiovisual artist from UK and Juan Manuel Escalante, best described as a nomad. Both were making field recordings in places around PIFcamp, manipulating them and producing accompanying visuals. Escalante envisioned a graphic album and created a series of refined artwork, which reveals various locations where he made the recordings. He considers releasing the project in a fanzine form.

The Slovenian visual artist Tisa Neža Herlec focused on the sonification of her drawing table, which she managed to accomplish with a few contact microphones. Music and sound also drive the Sonance Garden interactive installation by Inna Thoman, an Austrian artist working under the artist name Lino Leum. She will be able to manipulate the sound in the installation by changing the degree of light, moisture and temperature.

We are also trying to grasp the concept of time. For Anna Sircova, a psychologist working and living in Denmark, time has been the subject of intense research. An enticing glimpse of the future is provided by Jakob Scheite and his Fortune Telling Machine. A sample of a donor’s urine is used to measure concentrations of the donor’s hormones and these measurements collectively are used to predict an individual’s future.

PIFcamp 2018 – Unwinding…

There comes a point in the day, when each PIFparticipant has to step away from his project, let go of technology and de-stress, usually by the river. There, in a mysterious location, if you are adventurous and curious enough, you can stumble upon the The Wandering Cafe, and enter a charming world full of stories, magical delicacies, as well as receive an obligatory and invitingly comforting cup of coffee. Its proprietress and initiator is Lynne Bruning, the American maker and e-textiles innovator.

Another mandatory PIFstop is Krn Lake. There’s simply nothing better to reset one’s brain other than a two-hour stroll up to the largest of the Slovenian high mountains lakes. A simple gravel road takes you trough a luscious forest up to a mountain lodge where the prospect of surrounding peaks is simply spectacular. This view was enjoyment enough for some, but others yearned for more and went up higher to Krn’s mountaintop.

The future of mankind, the importance of mutual trust, of investing in the development of our social skills and of staying grounded in reality informs the project by multimedia artists İpek Burçak in Eren İleri. A remote location right beside the main PIFworkspace serves as a location for their installation Secure Shell. It will provide a safe space for its user. Interaction with a device providing imagery and curated texts on screen will invite him to enter into a mind-provoking solitary contemplative state. There he will ponder the possibilities of resisting and actively working against the distribution of power and capital, as we find it in today’s world.

Our fermentation team intent on preparing a diverse range of foods (kimchi, tempeh etc.) continues to provoke discussion about the food and eating habits of the future. Fermented foods should definitely be an integral part of a balanced diet, as they help digestion, strengthen our immune system and contribute greatly towards our bodily and mental well being.

PIFcamp 2018 – All Is One!

Nowadays, easy access to a Wi-Fi is a given. Connecting to one means receiving arbitrary and basic information about the of the network. What if it wasn’t so arbitrary? Could we use it to send meaningful messages? Make ones day with a beautiful verse, a humorous pun? Could we overtake the network provider’s list and incite people to think, act? The possibility is explored in this potentially highly activistic project named Hot Ninja by Dmitry Morozov.

The blazing sun doesn’t seem to mind PIFcampers, as every day they get evermore increasingly absorbed in their work. Lovrenc Košenina and his team continue work on their custom weather station, which features temperature, moisture, UV, atmospheric pressure and wind sensors. The gathered data will be readily available online.

Several textile projects are also in the course of being completed. Maggie Kane, who hails from the USA, works on her MIDI controlled smart jacket inside the house, but she’s not the only one with a smart jacket project. Another one is being built by Sanja Hrvaćanin and Eva Pondrk. It’s designed with cyclists in mind, as it features lighting and signalling devices, which will increase their visibility in traffic, as well as notify other drivers about the cyclist’s intended travel direction.

Soča remains the go to place for socializing and cooling down. The serenity of the riverbank induces one to slow down. To better cope with our daily stress and freezing water temperatures, potential inflammations, build up our energy and focus more mindfully on the present, Tilen Sepič, who is a part of the PIFvideo team, introduced breathing sessions in the daily routine of the PIFgroup. The sessions are is based on the method developed by Wim Hof.

An improvised etching station was set up by Michael Page and Staš Vrenko in the afternoon. It seems there is always somebody eager to learn and create his own unique PCB.

To facilitate and amplify our capabilities of sensing the processes at PIFcamp , be it the ones we initiate ourselves or those from our surroundings, Vaclav organized a senseMini workshop. The various sensors needed were therefore completed in no time.

When the daily heat subsided, we were pleased warm our bones and feast our eyes on a bonfire.

PIFcamp 2018 – Everything Circulates!

The fragile ecosystem PIFcamp tries to integrate in is in constant peril. It is besieged from all angles by our ever-growing needs for resource materials and the pleasure driven commodification of nature. This heavily underscores the need to rethink the modes we operate with or within it, as every mishap can have dire consequences. In nature, everything circulates and at PIFcamp this rule applies in the same degree to ideas, skills, projects, knowledge, experiences, tasks… It is an ideology. A responsibility.

PIFcamp continues to adhere to the DIY and DIWO operating methods. Cooperation, integration and collaboration is what we nerds are great at. We sure are a handy tribe! Hands and the human ability to create take centre stage in Hannah Perner-Wilson’s Sense yourself making project as she and other participants plan to capture the processes of making with sensors and transform them to music.

In the short introduction to the project, Hannah spoke about self-awareness and our awareness of other-than-self phenomenons, be it on-going processes in our environment, other beings… She also stressed how important it is to act prudently and responsibly in regards to our raw materials and our surroundings. As gathering various resources is crucial to Sense yourself making, she distributed practical gathering aprons with big pockets she made for the easy storage of potential matter to be used in course of the project.

There was no stopping us taking our first hike with the local expert on edible wild plants Dario Cortese. We were not pleased to find out that more meadows have been mown this year than any previous year. Nonetheless, we managed to gather some common yarrow flower clusters, wild carrots and wild tarragon. Some of these plants will end up in our fermentation experiments (kimchi, kefir…) carried out under the leadership of Kristijan Tkalec and Ahac Meden.

Our kindhearted and to the hidden beauties of nature wonderfully sensitive resident electrical engineer Bernhard Rasinger, who made last year’s PIFcamp truly memorable with his laser show and oscillators, started his work on an algae experiment. He uses blue and red LED lights to promote the growth and photosynthesis of the algae he gathered from Soča river while storing them in plastic water bottles. He hopes the experiment could turn out to be a working prototype that would contribute to the amelioration of the air we breathe (a byproduct of photosynthesis is oxygen), as well as help to reverse the consequences of climate change.

Another PIFproject got started when the scorching sun lost some of its power and allowed Ljudmila’s founding father Luka Frelih to begin work on his 3D Dome, which enables scanning objects. For now the team focused on the construction of its metal frame. Later on they will continue with the installation of cameras.

The evening on the second day of PIFcamp climaxed in a pleasant jam session.

PIFcamp 2018 – So it Begins!

The fourth edition of the international hacking camp PIFcamp could do nothing but attract creatives, nature lovers, technology enthusiasts, art professionals, scientists and open culture advocates to the Alpine valley of Trenta once more. You can imagine that the promise of informed discussions, inspired activities, thought and skill provoking projects, new or renewed & brilliant friendships, as well as unforgettable adventures, collaborations and experiences in Slovenia’s Triglav National Park is more than enough to induce clever, daring, mindful and unselfish individuals to flock here from all corners of the world.

One of the several indicators of the camp’s success are all of its participants who have joyfully returned to have a second, third and sometimes even forth go. Nonetheless, there are enough new faces around to add to the excitement even further. But first things first! A mandatory dive into the what subjectively feels like freezing, yet incredibly enticing Soča river, a myriad of handshakes, introductions, laughs and a hefty meal before it’s off to work on the PIFprojects.

This year’s projects and activities promise everyone will get to fully satisfy one’s inner nerd. Hannah Perner-Wilson, our cherished Austrian multimedia artist, pedagogue, as well as a wearables and e-textiles researcher pitched her concept for a well thought-out and engaging project that definitely got our childlike probing juices flowing. Another PIFcamp bastion is undoubtedly BASTL Instrument’s Vaclav Pelousek, a modular synthesis professional who hails from Brno (CZ) and can’t fail to impress with his extensive list of planned activities, workshops and ideas, which are all informed by his broad understanding and his signature playful humour.

We feel very fortunate to be able to include Dmitry Morozov ::vtol::, a Moscow-born and based new-media artist, musician, sound engineer and sound system designer with an impressive portfolio to our international PIFcamp family. While we hope to squeeze out as much knowledge from him as possible, he will work on developing his already beautiful and sometimes clandestine Mobile Terminal for Guerilla Communications.

Fresh faces round out the roster of the local team. The recognized Slovenian new media artist, phenomenal VJ and awarded game developer Boštjan Čadež- Fšk promises to build Trivolan, an Omega 3 by Force Dimensions inspired, but accessible haptic interface for use in visual performances. Januš Aleš Luznar, a Slovenian electronic music producer working under the artist names Yanoosh and Ohm Fat will work on his Symphony of the Heart, a project that explores the effects of the heart beat and various images on our brain waves and the cardio-vascular system.

A staple of the PIFdiet remains hacking our food habits and therefore our own wild herbalist and botanist Dario Cortese has once again thought of a programme to test and impress our taste buds while not in or around the kitchen, store or the local market.

 

The 3rd PIFcamp is over!

The third edition of PIFcamp has ended successfully and if we rely on the testimonies of PIFparticipants and guests, we can safely state it has been the best yet. We would like to give thanks to all who made PIFcamp possible starting with the organizational team from Ljudmila, The Projekt Atol Institute and this year’s co-organizers BioTehna and Rampa Lab.

Immense gratitude is due to our team of tireless cooks for our delicious meals, to the photo and video team for their stunning documentation of the PIFhappening and PIFprojects, to the scout clan Zmajev rod for giving us extra shelter and working space in the tent, the local community of Soča village for every imaginable support and to the UCSB or MAT program for being there for us in key moments. Thank you!

Naturally it would be very hard to do it without the support of the Municipality of Ljubljana and the Slovenian Ministry of Culture, as well as all our sponsors and donors. Big thanks goes out to the HTE  store for all electronic components, to Iskra for potentiometers, to the Conrad store for all the tools, and to Radio Študent for enabling us to be heard!

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the biggest RECOGNITION and THANKS goes out to this year’s participants and to the whole PIFcamp community for the selfless, benevolent and heartfelt sharing of knowledge, ideas, experiences, talents, courage, ingenuity and magic <3

See you next year!

P. S. We want your work zeal to outlive PIFcamp, so make sure you take full advantage of the 15% discount on all on-line purchases offered by Conrad.

May hacking live forever!

PIFcamp 2017 – Day 6

The end of the camp is getting closer, which is reflected in the projects, as they are all in their final phases. After breakfast we therefore took some time to hang out by the river. We went to the Great Soča Gorge, a truly fairy-tale-like location, where one can bask in the emerald sheen of Soča, take deep plunges into the river or just enjoy sitting by the gorge and relax with the light effects of Václav’s modified fidget spinner.

After Václav explained all about the history of flashing stroboscopic effects with psychedelic results, which inspired his modification of the fidget spinner, he led the participants of his Kastl workshop to the shade and continued explaining the various practical uses of the synths they made yesterday.

Back in the base Peter led the second part of his echo synth building workshop, and other continued work on their projects.

Hannah and Mika have also reached the final phase of their costume creation. We had a tasting of the fermented mate drinks and were most pleased with the ones which were flavoured with thyme, oregano and calamint.

After supper it was time for a Nintendo tournament.

Even the youngest tried out various instruments. We listened to music and socialised by the fire, which was a spot perfect for watching another laser show. This time others joined in its creation, as they threw corn starch (amongst other things) towards the laser beam to form a kind of a Milky Way effect. The frolicking went on long into the night.

 

PIFcamp 2017 – Day 5

Cindy left our camp in the morning. A part of the group attended Gea’s yoga session, a fine way to stretch their feet all sore from yesterday’s hike to Krn Lake. The daily dose of wasp stings is becoming mandatory. Andrew got stung in his tongue right after yoga, but it wasn’t fatal. His swelling went down in a few hours and he was back in shape again.

The crew of the Slovenian National Television came to visit. Before lunch we gathered ferns and other plants that will be incorporated into two costumes created by Hannah and Mika (Kobakant) for their ritual performance. Their team is getting bigger, as they have been joined by Andrew, Craig, Miro and many more.

Miro made a pair of stilts and Hannah was already practising walking on them in the afternoon. We got a good idea about the two costumes and their future form by the evening.

The ingeniously humorous Václav spent some time in making insoles for his sneakers. With the help of Hannah he equipped them with conductive strips and sensors, which control the sound coming from his modular synth. He also held a workshop. Ten participants were able to make their very own Kastl synths, a mini modular synths with an input for headphones.

Like every day there was a lot of swimming going on in Soča, and some even took to kayaking.

A large segment of the happening is taking place in the evening, as it is quite hot during the day. The brother Jure and Marko Lavrin graced us with an incredible pop-synth musical performance, Jure continued with Dario and Brgs on their excursion into psychedelic music, then it was time to listen to some noise generated by Staš and Peter. They were soon joined by Kleemar, and all of the aforementioned contributed to the making of diverse electronic harmonies that went on until the small hours of the day. The energy was phenomenal. Some danced like nobody was watching, others immersed themselves in the laser visualisation Bernhard projected on the nearby tree. A small performance was given by Andrew, who fitted right into the visual content of the evening with his costume and some simple lighting effects. Another visual performance was the work of Klemens Kohlweis who projected onto the wall behind the band.

It was high time to discuss the program of this year’s Open Saturday, when PIFparticipants present their projects to the public. Yair and Zohar are planning their lollipop presentation for noon, Dario will take us for a walk to and on the nearby meadows, and we will also get a chance to try out the fermented mate drinks created by Rosen and his team.

The Rampa team is working on several different nodes for our youngsters. On Arduino use in combination with sensors and visualisation, so one can visually imagine all the data gathered by the sensors from our environment, for example. Others are also working on their project presentations. Vincent and Mojca will upload a song to their accordion, so we will be able to play along the pattern of its LED lights. Vaclav and Bernhard will perform as Laser Bros (lasers and modular synths), Peter and Vaclav will also be performing together, and Hannah will make a presentation of the video she made about her last year’s project on PIFcamp – PIFpack. We will have our traditional picnic, and you will be able to screen print your own PIF T-shirt.

PIFcamp 2017 – Day 4

A group of PIFparticipants rose up early in the morning and went on a hike to Krn Lake. The most enthusiastic ones didn’t even wear proper shoes, but that had no effect whatsoever on the pleasure of their undertaking, as they enjoyed watching the ever-changing local flora and fauna. The lake served as a beautiful spot to have a rest and a quick panacea for soaring feet – the little fish in it even provided a pedicure. Those, who were up to it, continued to a nearby mountain top Šmohor.

Before returning to the valley Andrew tried out the robotic arm he took to the hike. He gave it a Sisyphean task – to move stones from one pile to the next and back again. He also shot some spectacular video material with his drone. On their way back the group gathered another batch of stinging nettles, which we have been eating fried for the last couple of days, and some rhodiola rosea or rose root. The root will serve as an invigorating addition to an alcoholic drink we are preparing.

The PIF participants that stayed in the base relinquished their morning yoga session. Rosen and the team working with him continued with their fermentation of yerba mate. It was time to take out the kombucha. They strained the liquid into smaller bottles and exposed them to the sun. They also added some herbs to the concoction to improve its flavour. They plan to serve at least 10 litres of the drink by the end of PIFcamp.

Batt-Girl (Bat Dezabeli), our guest from Jerusalem has been crocheting away in the shades of the tent. A photo of Soča River serves as an inspiration for her 3-D crocheted painting. Kristijan Tkalec, who has been measuring the temperature of the river every day and determined it has 9 degrees Celsius in the morning and 12 degrees Celsius at noon, decided to make an UV sensor, which will help us to ascertain the time it is advisable to socialize in the sun.

Jaka Berger – Brgs, one of the most versatile Slovenian musicians, has been tirelessly working on his project. He has finished his yearly upgrade of the prepared string pieces he uses on his percussions. He programed a patch for granular synthesis in pure data, which he plans to use on his next record. Luka Frelih also helped him to create the code for Arduino he will use to control sixteen servomotors he added to the drum he was working on at PIFcamp last year.

Our guests from Italy – Alice Pintus and Alessandro Contini – held a synth-making and the basics of sound production in Arduino workshop throughout the day. They explained a lot about generating simple noise patterns, translating light into sound, sequencing and so forth.

When the evening meeting full of reports about the experiences of the day and our progress ended, it was time for the Czechs to steal the show. Václav, who has been playing around with a fidget spinner he modified to create a kind of psychedelic contraption with a kaleidoscopic effect, made an introduction into the operational amplifier schematics reading. The lecture section was continued by Vadim Petrov, who provided a short and practical introduction to the coding of video content in browsers.

The Israelis Yair Reshef and Zohar Messeca-Fara who have been forced to work on their electronic lollipops by night as there is too much wasps around the tent during the day, made a demonstration of their work methods and a degustation of the first lollipops. Amongst other things they have been using silicon moulds of the plants we made with Andrew yesterday.

The electronic “freitonerin” with mechanical keys by Groenhuis and Miklavec is finished and is working. They will start on another version tomorrow. This one will have electronic keys, as they are testing different combination to find out what works best. The accordion will also have LED diodes. They will serve as a decorative element, but will also help you to learn new songs, as their blinking will point out the next key that needs to be pressed.

All project are linked in a sense, and the bonds among the participants are getting stronger as well. Although we are barely through the first middle of the camp, we already agree it is its most active chapter so far.

PIFcamp 2017 – Day 3

Despite a long previous night a small group woke up early and start the day with yoga. As Gea was absent it was led by our man with many talents – Andrew Quitmeyer. He is one of the central figures of this year’s PIFcamp and is the one, who might also be the most recognisable one. Some of you may know his as an author of the television show Hacking the Wild. Well, for a job well done he was awarded with a wasp sting at the end of the session.

After breakfast the majority of participants went on a hike with our wild man  Dario Cortese, who led us up the hill to a nearby deserted village Lemovje.

We made our base their for a short time. While some left to catch a glimpse of a spring, which was located approximately a ten minute hike away, the others joined the workshop led by Hannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomi from KOBAKANT. We gathered various morphologically interesting plants, which might be use as accessories to the interactive garments they are planning to build.

In the meantime we were having fun with co-creating Hannah’s “green” T-shirt. That meant we covered her in stinging nettles. As they have hairs they are highly suitable for instant textile design.

While we were walking, we naturally gathered some more of the delicious wild plants growing in the vicinity. We also got to find out about some new ones. What we gathered later became an ingredient in our meals, but we also made a really good tea. The hike was crowned with a mandatory daily swim and many refreshing jumps into Soča.

The wind was suitable enough for Cindy Regalado and Luka Frelih to try out if the day was good for flying kites. The kite did take of, but not high enough to take appropriate pictures. Cindy therefore decided to explain remaining steps in the process of this specific way of map making. We got to know the program with which one can process the images and “stitch” it together. They also tried to fly the kite again in the afternoon, but this time, although the altitude was suitable, something went wrong with the camera.

After lunch we partook in a short workshop, in which we learned a lot about the uses of whey and making yogurt. We added some black currants and several local herbs to milk in order to check if they contain suitable bacteria for yogurt making. We will find out if they do tomorrow. Vaclav Pelovšek lead a quick course about the of modular synthesis. Some joined Andrew in making silicon casts of the plants we gathered on the hike. In the coming days we will be using the moulds to make organic shapes from chocolate or epoxy resin.

Lavoslava Benčić (from ČIPke), who has been working on her electronic gloves for the third year on PIFcamp now, decided to try and make an orthopaedic insole from kombucha. But, as it turned out kombucha doesn’t have enough of a “spring” effect when dry. Staš Vrenko and his group successfully finished the etching of eight circuit boards in the bathroom, which they turned into an improvised darkroom.

The electronic accordion project is almost in its closing phase. Vincent and Mojca focused on determining if the electronics programming was done correctly, meaning, if specific tones answer to the assigned keys. Light box by Špela Škulj, made for screen printing, will be ready by Friday and we will get to try it out by making PIF T-shirts. By the evening we also got a first taste of the candy which will coat the electronic bonbons. The camp seemed like a well organised anthill at some point. Everybody was busy doing something. Gregor’s analog sequencer is also finally getting shape.

This night turned into a cacophonic symphony of sounds. PIFmusicians made them with drums, a bagpipe, flutes and synths, but this wild jamming was soon stopped by a temporary power shortage. So, most of us went straight into our beds, as the next day will be full of new adventures – some planned to go on another hike to Lake Krn at the break of dawn.