Open call for the 9th edition of PIFcamp is out! You can find all the information on how to apply in the APPLY HERE menu section. Catch the early bird price by applying until March 31st. Open call will be open until end of April.
Looking forward to build PIFtopia in Soča this summer!
Bittersweet would be a perfect term to describe the last day of PIFcamp. This year’s Open Saturday started out to be more of an Open Skies Saturday, but that didn’t stop us from making the most of it.
Part 1: Morgenspaziergang to the river
It is hard not to get inspired by the beautiful river of Soča and its surrounding nature, so after a week of hard work, some of the participants decided to install theirs on the riverbanks (and in the stream), and invite everyone for a walk down to the river. Vivian and David planted their watermill for generating electricity from the river and converting signals into sound. Upstream, Seamus installed his orchestra (made up of a mycelium conductor and plants/water/lichen musicians) with various sensors and speakers placed on debris from a building site near PIFcamp, which translates sensory data and signals into glitchy synth music to evoke nature’s distress.
Part 2: Raining cats and dogs (and T-shirts)
Riverside activities had to be wrapped up quickly as the rain started to pour… While the youngest enjoyed themselves in the newly formed lake, Urška was hard at work screenprinting approximately a hundred T-shirts with this years’ PIFcamp motifs.
Part 3: Mains hum ePIFany and other community activities
After the rain stopped, PIFparticipants continued with presentations of their projects, formed a 50 Hz cult, and engaged in a community broadcast. We figure this is as good as any spot to thank the amazing PIFcamp kitchen crew for their weeklong service, crowned by the Saturday’s banquet. Thank you!
Part 4: Dance the PIF away
Our incredible video team set the tone for last night at PIFcamp with the world’s premiere of two short video documentaries (ISOLABS and Live coding) made from scratch during the past 6 days. After a quick change of the tent’s function from a cinema to a concert venue, the crowd enjoyed Bernhard’s and Mitja’s performances accompanied by Aljoša’s visuals, and was thus well prepared for a night of clubbing. Under the canopy, a wonderful lineup of live coders programmed their dance steps at the (probably world’s first) terrace algorave, followed by Blažen DJ’s blissfully eclectic mix. And so, we danced the PIFcamp goodbye. Until next year!
Thursday took its toll, at least on the most persistent ravers and the drink supplies. The PIFlogger didn’t spare any energy either, so she’s using visual materials to help her gather her impressions today. So what did Friday looks like at PIFcamp? Friday is the day when PIFers have one last time to try out new approaches, wrap up their projects (and side-projects) or come to terms with a (non)working prototype and get ready for Open Saturday, which was back on the schedule after another round of negative tests. But first, it’s time for the mandatory! hike and a close encounter with the freezing Soca (this year’s river temperature is a noticeably lower 12 degrees).
Swimming in the Soča is one of the best ways to reset, so most participants managed to get back to their normal rhythm after lunch. For those who wanted to take it easy while developing their handcraft skills, Becca and Margo’s animal embroidery workshop was a perfect choice.
“Follow the cable” could be the guiding principle of the next activity organised by Simon, a member of the Octosens team, who invited participants to explore the underground installations around PIFcamp with dowsing rods. Judging by the happy expressions on their faces, one could dare to say that you make a PIF person happy in an instant if you put a piece of metal in their hands.
Shortly afterward, Theun invited the participants to a unique mix of exploring the surroundings of PIFcamp and a walk through the history of record-keeping. During the workshop, the participants learned how people have stored memories and knowledge, inscribed them in the landscape as we walked, and thus passed them on from one generation to the next.
After dinner, all cam took time to reflect and talk about recent events/processes, and to plan for the Open Saturday. How did the work on the PIFprojects go? How many side-projects did the PIFers create? Are prototypes working? What will we present to the visitors of Open Saturday and how will we pack more than 30 different projects into one afternoon? Difficult questions, but not at all unsolvable for PIFers. The programme took shape smoothly and seamlessly, while we found solutions to technical, conceptual and nutritional mysteries and relaxed into the relaxed rhythm of Friday night.
According to the PIF criteria, calm does not mean idleness, just a slightly lower volume of activity. Polona organized the traditional tarot game under the tent (finally!), and Bernhard and Katja – our PIFlog writer, learned about Bernhards laser and modular systems (she mentioned it was inspiring!) and experimented with visualizations projected on the tree. Meanwhile, a group of both new and die-hard live coding enthusiasts had gathered behind us, brought together by Julien. This time it was the turn of the Foxdot environment in combination with Troop, a tool that allows the connection of multiple coders and thus one of the most important PIFthings, the jam. The PIFcamp started to empty soon after, and the participants had to recharge their batteries before Saturday’s event. Good night!
Alicia Champlin provided a meditative introduction to Wednesday, inviting the participants to a cymbal sound bath. According to Thomas, who was briefly interviewed before lunch about his experience of the fourth day of PIFcamp, Alicia completely hypnotized the group. Afterwards, the visitors lay down in a meditative state, which our interviewer describes as a wonderful, long echo.
After the camp had settled down, the 10 active participants gathered for Ludwig’s workshop on how to make preamplifiers from old vacuum tubes originally designed for use in car radios. Thomas particularly liked the pace of the workshop, with participants soldering in harmony, moving between the stages of fabrication together, and even running into a problem together at the end. But of course, in the end, they also worked together and solve it!
And than we moved back under the tent, where Alicia presented her brain rhythm synthesiser. She first demonstrated the sensor and the user interface that visualizes the frequencies of the brain rhythms and then presented the sonification software for the different classes of waves. As the headband sensor is entirely based on open source solutions and she wrote the program in MaxMSP, she set herself the goal of writing the program in the Pure Data environment at PIFcamp. If she succeeds, we will be able to hear the result on the eight-channel PA system in Blaž’s ambisonic dome! Hopefully soon!
After lunch, August set up a collaborative radio station under the roof. He presented Mezcal, a browser-based tool he developed to diversify broadcasting and sound art practices, to provide alternative modes of communication for social movements and to create a new kind of technology for journalistic reporting. Roger also attended the workshop and was most impressed by August’s approach to collaborative broadcasting, which he sees as a communal sound composition. Participants also learned the principle in practice – they were divided into pairs and assigned an adjective that served as a cue for a sound improvisation. Roger and Thuen paired up to sound out the concept of health. The workshop was broadcast live by August on Mezcal and can still be heard there.
Meanwhile, artist Adriana Knouf joined us remotely via the web, from her residency in Copenhagen to present her artistic research project Foxes and Deeper Time. We talked to Eva and Nastja, two members of a team working on a prototype lichen observation system, about the event and the project itself. Adriana is a transgender artist who often focuses on space-related themes in her artwork. This offers her an escape from the sense of alienation that has been with her since childhood. Her current project links space travel with lichens, organisms that can survive in a vacuum.
Adriana is developing a spacecraft for transporting lichens and is also researching the organisms, which have rarely been the subject of scientific research. The second major part of the project is the construction of a portable observatory, consisting of various sensors for organic functions and a camera. As Nastja points out, lichens grow extremely slowly – only one to two millimeters per year – so they need to build a robust device to observe and send data to the cloud. Eva also tells us that the team has carried out two expeditions to collect lichen samples along the Soča River for the lichen archive they are preparing as part of Adriana’s multi-year project.
Before dinner, Marko Peljhan gave a comprehensive report on the recent large-scale fires in the Karst, which was listened to by a large group of PIFcampers. Marko’s company C-astral, which manufactures small unmanned aircraft systems, responded to a request from civil protection for help in mapping the fire. In just three days, they mapped some 4,500 hectares, and the images clearly show the aftermath of the devastating fire. Marko spiced up the otherwise serious subject with a number of anecdotes to entertain the gathered audience.
For the last report of the day, we returned to Thomas, who (admirable dedication! – after attending all the workshops that day) also visited Václav Peloušek‘s Auto-Tune workshop to round off the day. Václav’s excellent blend of instruction and personal experience was reinforced by numerous examples of compositions, and by presenting the history of this sometimes hated function, he showed that it can be used in so many ways that can actually add to the sound. Finally, participants tried their hand at Auto-Tune karaoke with a device that Václav launched in 2019 at PIFcamp. Fun for performers and the audience was guaranteed!
After the screening of the documentary Sisters with Transistors, most of the participants slowly went to rest, while a group of synth enthusiasts organised the opening jam session. Thursday’s event was even more varied, so you will read about it as soon as we finish processing all the impressions (short announcement: drones, lasers, synths, jam sessions, more jam sessions, breakfast rave). Don’t miss it!
Thursday started early for some: before 6am (5:45am!), the bravest participants gathered for coffee and tea and decided to go on a long hike into the unknown with chef Klemn. They studied the map one last time and started the hike. A good hour later, more traditionally oriented PIFcampers went on a shorter hike to the Krn Lakes. Its is becoming almost an annual activity.
The participants are masters of multitasking, so they also held a Waaaater Walkshop during the traditional walk. Vivian‘s project was to allow the participants to slow down in the otherwise fast-moving atmosphere of PIFcamp. “The Walkshop allows you to explore, understand, feel and connect with your environment through walking,” she writes at the beginning of the booklet she created at PIFcamp. “In the notebook, I will ask you questions and invite you to draw, but remember that this is just a guide to help you discover and feel.”
Community archiving is an important part of Viviana’s walking workshop – each participant receives a notebook in which they write/draw their feelings and reflections. From the archive, we pulled out one of the twelve booklets that said “Becca”. As PIFlog writer always checks with the source, we asked Becca about her experience. “We opened the notebook by the beautiful lake and looked into the water, at the shape of the waves as they emerged on the surface. Vivian was also interested in how we could hear the water – we were on a lake that is otherwise calm. The only sounds were occasionally made by swimmers jumping into the lake, but it was a very calming experience.” Leafing through the booklet co-authored by Vivian and Becca was also a calming experience.
By lunchtime (jota!), the hikers had already arrived at the base and were slowly blending in with the rest of the participants. Meanwhile, a few curious people had already gathered around Seamus on the lawn for a demonstration of the mini portable units, Datapods, sound synthesizers to which various sensors can be connected.
Soon after, ten participants gathered under the baldachín, turned on the soldering irons, and, under the watchful eye of Lina and Manu, started to assembling the Fantasía synth at the workshop. When the assembly was done Iván and Julia took over – guided the PIFers step by step through the process of programming the synth they had just built. The full-afternoon workshop was (verified!) also suitable for complete beginners, who thus built their first programmable synth to chase PIFnostalgia at home.
At the same time, a silent sound began to echo through the PIFcamp and led us under a tree. Tilen set up a portable battery-powered sound system and gathered fellow synthesiser enthusiasts who provided a wonderful musical backdrop for lounging, active listening, and also small manual tasks (e.g. assembling extension cables or quietly typing of PIF blog).
At the same time, a journey through the history of field recording took place under the tent with Niklas, the guide you have already met in an earlier post. A lively debate developed among the interested audience, which was reinforced by listening to examples and sharing tips and hints.
In the afternoon, the sky above us was still very bright as Marko used drones to map a part of the Soča River in the area close to PIFcamp. The Trenta mapping is part of his multi-year ISOLAB project, which you can find out more about in a short video documentary made by the PIFvideo team during our stay in Soča.
Just before dinner, a few PIFampers gathered under a nearby tent for a workshop with Karl Yerkes to learn about the new dimensions of live music coding in C, in the CLAVM (C Language Audio Virtual Machine) environment. Karl told us about the workshop: ‘It’s about live coding in an ancient language that is still used all over the world, C, completely unnoticed. In the workshop I gradually show how to create increasingly sophisticated musical processes, starting with simple signals and mathematical operations. At the beginning, we learn the basics of digitally generated sound, digital signal processing, and basic mathematical functions. Then we try our hand at music composition with parameterization, parameter mapping strategies, pattern generation and effects. Layering functional abstractions, we begin to listen to music that deviates from the expectations associated with live coding in such a low-level language. Finally, we encode the music live in C.”
5th day after dinner, the PIFcamp odyssey of covid tests continued (all negative!) and one extraordinary event after another. First, Bernhard realized his long-awaited wish: he performed a laser show on the biggest wall in the PIFcamp area. All eyes of the participants (although the evaluation is rather subjective) were focused on the wall of epic proportions (at least for the village of Soča) next to the basketball court and enjoyed a 30-minute hypnotic AV performance.
Blaž, the dome man, also had an adventure of sorts, on Thursday he finally got the chance (weather factor + human forgetfulness factor), to set up the speakers in a spherical sound system and invite passers-by (on the way to the basketball court-terrace route) to listen in. Unfortunately, this was the longest-lasting session in the Ambisonic Dome, as raindrops visited PIFcamp again in the following days.
The tireless PIFcampers organised themselves and set up an AV jam under the tent just a few minutes after Bernhard’s performance. Aljoša accompanied the musicians on synths and in various live coding environments with visuals. On a rather massive system consisting of, among other things, an oscilloscope, an old video camera, and a video mixer (which Luka pulled out of a box labeled “obsolete video …”), he created a great visual focus for the energetic music from under the fingers of the coordinated performers. The atmosphere in the tent was so good that your favorite media team (photographer Simão and note-taker Katja) decided to move their office to the center of the action. The party was brought to an early end (at 1:00) by the law and order authorities.
The party has therefore moved under the covered terrace. The participants did not need to be told twice, the new venue was ready within one beer. Best not to waste too many words on the epic proportions, two will be sufficient: breakfast rave. Read on in the next few days to find out how the participants then took the obligatory hike and started preparing for the Open Saturday. After all this, we can’t conclude with a statement from the camp leader, Rea, who was asked how she was feeling on Friday afternoon: “I’m OK. Yesterday was such a calm day.” <3
The third day of PIFcamp started early for some, with a hike to Planina Lamovje, led by Neža. Most of the participants continued working on their projects immediately after breakfast – we will publish a report on their progress in the next few days, but this time we just give you a quick overview of Tuesday’s events. This is a community report, as the schedule of activities is becoming more and more concentrated day by day, following the usual formula.
After breakfast, Theun Karelse presented a prototype of a device that aims to give listeners a physical experience of animal calls. The device, consisting of a modified Bluetooth speaker, acts as an inducer of animal sound into the human body. Theun used the sounds of a bee and a grizzly for the demonstration. Participants were able to test the device on their own bodies and noticed that the most immersive experience is created when the device is pressed against the chest – the chest cavity is large enough for the vibrations to resonate well, and the effect of the sound coming from inside the body is the most intense. As reported by Tjaša.
This was followed by a photogrammetry workshop with Žiga Pavlovič (member of the PIFproject reDigital team), visited by our special reporter Dunia. First, participants downloaded the Polycam app, which is optimized for 3D scanning of objects with a phone. Žiga then presented examples of his scans and explained the basics of 3D scanning and modeling in the open source environment Blender. After a short introduction, the participants tried out photogrammetry in practice. They tested two different ways of scanning objects and learned from mistakes. The first way, where the object is moving and the camera is static, did not work – for example, when scanning a participant, a blurry ghost appeared on Dunia’s screen. The second way, in which we reverse the logic (static object, moving camera) proved to be correct and the scan took the image of Miha. To finish the workshop, participants simply downloaded the files in the desired format to their phones and opened them in the 3D environment of their choice.
After lunch, the live coders were at it again. They were gathered under the tent by Niklas Reppel, one of the members of the Toplap Barcelona community, who presented Mégra, his programming language for live music encoding. We asked Niklas about the peculiarities of Mégra and what drove him to create his own programming language. “Most live music encoding languages are based on repetitive functions, but I prefer randomness. At the same time, after the frustrating experience of failed installations of other environments, such as SuperCollider, I wanted to make a program for which the user only needs one file. Mégra is quite self-contained, as it is not based on an existing language. I also see the advantage of creating my own language in that I can play around with putting fun words into the syntax.”
At 4.20 pm, a colorful group of participants gathered under the pagoda for Maggie Kane‘s Fuck Instagram workshop, where, after the obligatory rant, they listened and joined in the reflections on social networks and websites as archives. “Trying to create the ideal website that serves as an archive of current and past projects you do, can be extremely difficult, you always want it to be better.” The decision to go for analog archiving, therefore, came quite naturally – the participants were able to see different approaches to archiving the processes and origins of artworks/projects through the examples of booklets. In the end, participants were invited to reflect and contribute ideas for community archiving of the projects produced at PIFcamp. Impressions summarised by Rea.
Before dinner, some of the participants moved under the tree canopy for the Becca Rose Potato Workshop. An anonymous field mouse attended the workshop and sent us their report. “We were invited to sit under the canopy of a tree that I had never sat under before because it is hidden behind a large tent. We all sat on the ground there and mixed into five groups to start. We thought about potatoes and computers, about which we then wrote two poems per group, which we then read out in front of the rest of the group. We were very kind to computers in our poems, which may be a rarity in the general public, but yes, we are at PIF and … As a group, we also seem to be big potato lovers, as after reading our poems we exchanged many more stories and anecdotes related to his particular vegetable. The main part of the workshop followed, where we turned the potato into a battery and used it to power the synthesizer and the LED lights.”
All the potatoes made the participants hungry, but fortunately, when they arrived on the terrace, dinner was waiting for them with a very special dessert, a birthday strawberry cake for Maggie – happy birthday!
The evening started with a live coding event – From Scratch, where coders, as well as some complete beginners from Monday’s workshops, tried their hand at coding music and visuals. According to the organizers of such events, the PIF From Scratch lineup was the largest ever! Another PIFsuccess! You will be able to read a report from the event in the next few days when we will premiere a documentary about the live coding community on PIFlog. Don’t miss it!
According to PIFcamp regulars, the workshop schedule on the first day filled up the fastest ever.This is perhaps not so surprising, given rapid response is encoded in the nature of live coders, who are probably the most numerous community at this year’s PIFcamp. Monday was therefore more or less spent live coding: PIFparticipants were invited to attend two workshops (a live coding music workshop with Živa, a SuperCollider set of tools, and a live coding visualizations workshop in Hydra) and a presentation of the CLAVM live coding system. But first, it was time for the basics: right after breakfast, Bernhard showed the participants how not to get killed by mains voltage in the 50Hz workshop.
With their new-found confidence, the PIFparticipants then built extensions, since you can never have too many of them on the worksite.
Before lunch, Karl Yerkes invited us under the tent for a demo of CLAVM, a live coding system, which is still in development. He impressed the audience (mainly made up of live coders) with his inventive solutions and delivery. Karl is also developing a live coding music workshop these days, so stay tuned!
While some of us were getting acquainted with the new live coding environment, some of the participants started setting up the DIY geodesic dome, by now a traditional PIFcamp feature, on the neighbouring lawn.
This year too, Blaž Pavlica will spend most of his time in its company, continuing his work on the Ambisonic Dome project. This time, he will be working on the development of a user interface that will allow visitors to arrange sounds from the library in a virtual space, and play the result on a multi-channel spherical system. He’s developing the interface as part of the B-air project, which investigates the role of sound in human development from the embryonic stage onwards. Blaž’s installation is aimed at children, and with them in mind he has put together the sound library – you’ll be able to choose from a variety of sounds of jungle animals. Coming soon to a geodesic dome near you!
After lunch (thanks Klemen, Miha and the team!) we worked on our storytelling and drawing skills at the No Name Fiction workshop led by Julien Bellanger. We used the scratchboard technique to create cards of our ghost Pokémon, giving them a rainbow image, naming them and writing out a list of their skills. In a day or two, Julien will hold a follow-up workshop where we will elaborate on their stories. To get ready for the catch, check out the set of creatures on the notice boards while you are waiting in the lunch/dinner queue.
The tables under the canopy were too crowded for all the participants of the late afternoon live coding music workshop with Roger Pibernat, which spread over half of the terrace. The intensive workshop was about getting to grips with Živa, a tool and syntax sugar for SuperCollider. As the PIFlog editorial team prides itself on first-hand reporting, we bring you the experience of one of the participants: “Roger’s live coding workshop was intimidating at first, as I don’t know how to code at all, but in the process of getting to know Živa, using the SuperCollider tools for simple coding, the fun blew all my fears away. We learned how to import libraries of sounds and synths, playing like musicians in an orchestra. Coding finally made sense! There are so many sounds you can create with Živa and the possibilities for modulating them are endless, so you’re bound to be hooked.”
The activities then moved back to the tent, where Thomas presented his PIFproject, in which he is exploring what light looks like in the medium of sound. After introductions of the new PIFparticipants and dinner, followed by short interruptions of work (or sitting on the lawn) due to the occasional rain, the crowd gathered for the last Monday workshop. Mentored by Blaž Pavlica, whom you met at the beginning of this blog entry, it was a smooth introduction to Hydra, a great browser-based tool for live coding visualisations.
Most of the participants were chased away by the rain in the early hours of the night, but the more persistent ones enjoyed the jam session arranged by jesusonecstasy and loopier, with Blaž’s backing in Hydra. Tuesday starts early, with an optional hike or hard work on projects, and then continues with a full schedule of activities, so we bid you farewell for today.
The 8th edition of PIFcamp will take us into the world of live-coding, lasers, prototyping, noise, more or less rhythmic sounds, community projects, and the endless possibilities of exploration.
More than sixty participants have made their way to Soca. The day started with a lot of work, setting up tables, setting up the tent, and arranging the internet connection, cables and other details. The kitchen was quite lively, the cooks and little helpers prepared a delicious leek-chickpea soup, for all the hungry and tired. After a new type of welcoming at the entrance – a quick antigen test, and very fortunately, for once, we were all for sure on the negative side of the scale, the traditional introductory part began.