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.

Join us on the Open Saturday!

The 3rd edition of PIFcamp is slowly coming to its conclusion. The intense hot week has not slowed down the PIFcampers by Soča and everybody is rushing to finish their project before the end of the week.

We are inviting you to visit us on the traditional Open Saturday (AUG 5). Throughout the day full of mini-events and presentations you can check out the diversity of PIFprojects and meet the fascinating participants of PIFcamp 2017.

The programme starts at 12PM and includes some of the activities listed below:

  • Yair Reshef and Zohar Messeca-Fara: Electronic lollipops tasting
  • Dario Cortese: A walk around the surrounding meadows
  • Rosen Ivanov: Fermented drinks tasting
  • Rampa Lab Team: Hands-on workshop with sensors (for kids)
  • Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson: E-textile ritual
  • Kikimore (Sara Mlakar and Straška Guček): Ambiental sound performance
  • Anton Prykhodko: “Hacking garden”installation made out of garbage with different inputs for connecting synths
  • Vincent Groenhuis and Mojca Miklavec: Try out their electronic MIDI accordion
  • Hannah Perner-Wilson: PIFpack video live
  • Vaclav Peloušek & Bernhard Rasinger aka Laser Bros: Evening AV performance (lasers and modulars)

and more…

The traditional picnic, garment screen printing, and evening jam sessions  included!

Accommodation for guests is unfortunately not possible, so we suggest you check out possible vacancies in the camps close by: Camp Jelinc, Camp Soča or Camp Korita. Since the Vršič pass road is still under reconstruction, we advise you to consider an alternative road via Predel / Predil (Italy).

PIFcamp is located in Soča Village (address Soča 25), right beside the local church.

We will ask the visitors joining the picnic for a modest contribution for food and drinks.

 

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.

PIFcamp 2017 – Day 2

On the second day a good dozen of us started our day with yoga. Gea, our flexible yoga instructor, dedicated a good portion of our session to meditation and relaxation, while the rest was spent in various poses. We definitely got a good morning stretch.

Right after breakfast Staš Vrenko took care of the mandatory morning dose of knowledge-sharing. He led an introduction to circuit schematic drawing and  shed some much needed light on the principles of etching. Some circuits will be drawn and etched tomorrow.

The electronic accordion by Vincent Groenhuis and Mojca Miklavec is getting along quite nicely, but Cindy and her group didn’t manage to fly their kites. There was no suitable wind… Their spirits are nonetheless high, and they will try again in the forthcoming days.

The group that joined Rosen Ivanov in making a carbonated mate drink added wild yeast, ginger bug, whey, water kefir and kombucha to several glasses containing mate tea with sugar that was prepared yesterday. They tried out different ratios in order to find the combination with the right amount of carbon dioxide, which would also taste good.

After lunch some of us chose to go on a short stroll along the Soča river with our wild man Dario Cortese. We searched the nearby meadows to rob them of their aromatics and other edible plants. The summer savory,  wild carrots, wild garlic and nettles we gathered ended up in salads that accompanied one of the delicious meals prepared by our lovely chefs Tereza, Maruša and Tea. They are truly spoiling us.

We were joined by Hannah and Mika from KOBAKANT today. They shared the timeline of their project in which they will combine wearables with local plant life and sounds.

In the afternoon quite a few PIFparticipants made their own simple echo sound effect under the watchful eye of Peter Edwards. As there are so many musicians on PIFcamp this year, we can expect to witness and take part in many jam-sessions and performances.

When something turns out to be an excellent idea, it is bound to become standard practice, so like the first evening we went into the woods to gather wood and make a bonfire before it turned too dark. After another delectable dinner we were graced by the visit of the local chaplain. And after that the happening transformed into a super birthday bash – chocolate cake and all. The atmosphere grew more electrifying by the minute as sounds from modular synths permeated the evening air. John Dinger, who celebrated alongside Lio, had the honour to set the vibe to the pleasure of everybody present. It was not hard for Peter Edwards and Václav Peloušek to pick it up and make this night a thing to remember.

The PIFcrowd was enthralled also by Bernhard Rasinger, who use the nearby treetops as a screen for his laser wizardry.

Time flew by as August shooting stars this sweet night of music, dancing and passionate debates, and the sky was turning back to blue when the last man standing went off to his well-deserved rest.

PIFcamp 2017 – Day 1

After the initial introductions and some time to get to know our surroundings, we lent an ear to the first project presentations and started to plan the week that approximately 50 avid lovers of technology, art and science from all across the globe will spend in the beautiful Soča Valley for the third year in a row.

Peter Edwards, an American currently living in Czech Republic, is among us once again! He works with Václav Peloušek and Tomáš Niesner, who are part of BASTL Instruments, a company and a collective based in Brno. Some of the PIFparticipants familiarized themselves with their modular synths before their first PIFdinner.

Another guest of this year’s camp is Andrew Quitmeyer, who started the day by demonstrating how to use a drone and in the evening also explained all about laser cutting on various surfaces such as plant leaves and wood.

Some also got a chance to delve into the world of oscilloscopes. The man who brought them to Soča is Bernhard Rasinger, who wants to explore ways to integrate modular synth circuits, oscilloscopes and lasers.

Our very own agricultural dissident Dario Cortese announced several walks into the wild, where there will be heaps of opportunity to gather medicinal and edible wild plants growing in nearby pastures and woods.

A novelty of the camp this year is a focus on the development of workshop programmes for youngsters, which will be led by Cindy Regalado and Kristijan Tkalec, also a part of the Rampa Lab and BioTehna team, co-producers of the 3rd PIFcamp. Cindy explained all about her PIFnode, which involves flying kites, equipped with a camera, over the PIFvenue and its surroundings. With the kites she plans to take aerial shots of the area, and combine them in order to generate its map.

Naturally we are excited about all PIFprojects. Yair Reshef and Zohar Messec-Fara will create electronic lollipops, for example, and the Dutch-Slovenian connection – Vincent Groenhuis and Mojca Miklavec – are working on a modular accordion. We are also waiting impatiently for the arrival of Hannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomi from the KOBAKANT collective, as they will design and execute a new and “all-natural” wearable technology.

The nutritional enthusiast Rosen Ivanov completed some of the initial phases in his quest to find ways to use carbon dioxide formed in the course of fermentation in the creation of fizzy drinks. He plans to use wild yeast, whey, water kefir and kombucha. We might get to try out his creations from yerba mate by the end of the week.

A proper anthropological study of the knowledge-sharing processes at PIFcamp by Ahac Meden is apparently forthcoming. No wonder, since PIFcamp encourages all forms and the creative use of modern technologies while emphasising active project co-creation and the free distribution of knowledge, ideas and experiences.

Looking forward to the coming adventures!

Bio-fermented Mate Drinks

“Materva” has become a symbol of Cuban diaspora and nostalgia of pre-Castro Cuba, “Club Mate” is the preferred and signature drink of most post-Fordist alternative engineering cultures (a.k.a hackers), and “Nativa” became a known Coca-Cola market flop in Argentina. What unites those three drinks is the idea of carbonating the famous mate tea into energizing soda pops, or gasiosas de mate.

This project by Rosen Ivanov comes from his passion for ilex paraguariensis, or yerba mate, and its fascinating social history and traditional uses. After working on a soda-pop from yerba mate in the local Barcelona biohackerspace, Rosen decided to try various methods of natural carbonation for brewing traditional tea fizzy drinks.

On the first days of the camp, he invites you to experiment with him on different ways of using fermentation’s CO2 for making sodas-pops. He’s intending to try the following cultures, but any other methods we can work with are highly appreciated: ginger bug, whey, water kefir and kombucha.

Environment reading sensors

Photo by Hana Josić.

With the help from Kristijan Tkalec (BioTehna) participants will submerge into a collection of sensors and use Arduino microcontrollers to assemble new devices, which will help them to sense the surroundings more efficiently. The node is open to all aspiring explorers who want to familiarize themselves with the basics of programming, Arduino use and sensors. The goal will be to make as diverse and interesting little exploration devices as possible. They will be used for tracking temperature, humidity, the UV safety according to the UV index, the amount of carbon dioxide and so forth. The most interesting specimens will be recreated in the workshop for children, which will take place on PIFcamp’s Open Saturday.