Wearable Interactive Ant-farms at PIFcamp!

Design your own wearable ant farms!

About the project

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tools & materials & code

Core Materials List

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

For those who want more

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

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

Credits & How to join

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

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


MycoMythological Research by Saša Spačal

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

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

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

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

Can online music performances be fun?

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

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

The duality of things by Bernhard Rasinger

In a referential system an entity always refers to something. That might be a zero point or any other potential, but there is always a point, plane, potential or idea to refer to.
Electric power systems work that way. A potential, away from the earth potential can create over humanly forces. These forces can only be experienced as a manifestation of the potential difference. Something lights up, something turns and moves or becomes warm. The manifestation that becomes apparent is a transformation of energy.

Sound and music work on a referential basis. One beat without another will not become a rhythm, one tone without another not a sense of harmony, a chord or a melody. There is always a second entity that builds the reference. 

At this year’s PIFcamp Bernhard Rasinger would like to explore the principle of reference with the help of oscilloscopes, lasers, modular synthesizers and the horn of a crane. (Whaat?) Join him for the adventure of recording your instrument into the modular laser system to compose a collaborative visual sound piece. 

They say that when you are weightless and floating in space you have to leave something behind to go somewhere. The greater the loss, the greater the impulse.

Text and photo by Bernhard Rasinger

Game Design Basics for Interactive Play & Sonic Game Jam!

Woho! We are announcing the second remote PIFworkshop hosted by Maggie Kane aka Streetcat.media, with a little help from Lovrenc Košenina (Rampa Lab). We are honoured that Maggie, who attended PIFcamp in 2018, proposed to host this workshop on our platform and share it with the community <3


Learn the basic principles of narrative gameplay design for encouraging meaningful user interaction with your work!

This workshop deconstructs game and storytelling/narrative design principles into two days worth of learning that covers various methods you can use to craft an engaging story for your audience!


*For a more detailed activities description click here*

DAY 1: Game / Narrative Principles + Praxis
Wednesday AUG 5 at 5PM CEST | 3PM UTC

Create a web-based interactive “sonic” story (video game) that captures / documents the sensory elements (primarily sound) of a defined environment within a period of time and encourages purposeful exploration of the interactive play elements.

At the end of the workshop, Maggie will introduce an example project that illustrates the game + narrative design principles learned on day one. Students will receive a PDF worksheet that will help them define their own game + narrative design elements for their own interactive stories.

DAY 2: Interactive Storytelling Platforms
Thursday AUG 6 at 7PM CEST | 5PM UTC

Each student creates a very simple interactive game or experience that utilizes game + narrative design elements from their outline. They will record sound samples from their inspired environment and integrate the recordings with the storybuilding system mechanics on BITSY’s platform.

Students have a chance to make a simple game in a two-day game jam that ends on Saturday, August 8 at noon (Slovenian time). Maggie will be available in between Thursday’s workshop (DAY 2) and Saturday’s GAME JAM deadline to answer any questions / help with specific things on Discord :)

Finished projects should be emailed to hello@streetcat.media, and they will be posted on a PIFcamp Itch.io page for all to play!


Participation at the workshop is free, but the spaces are limited, so please apply by sending an email to pifcamp@ljudmila.org. The workshop will be accesed via Moodle platform.

μπA (micropia) by BEAM TEAM

Project μπA (micropia) is a research between correlation of light (video projections, production of video material) and dynamics of water surface in relation to sound (influences of sound frequencies on water surface) by Stella Ivšek & Anja Romih aka BEAM TEAM (visual) and Črt Trkman (sound design).

At PIFcamp, we will focus on the production of video material based on images obtained using a digital microscope. Images of natural structures and organisms will be modified and projected back onto natural surfaces. We want to realize the project in the form of a simulation of the natural environment also in the gallery space osmo/za. The installation would include a mapped video projection on objects brought from the natural environment and the reflection of light on the water surface, the structure of which is changed by the sound frequencies of modulated sounds of nature.

The presentation may also include recordings of processes and research conducted during PIFcamp.

Blaž Pavlica: DIY ambisonic dome

Ambisonics is a spherical surround sound format, which in addition to the horizontal level also contains sounds above and below the perceiver. Unlike other formats, its channels do not carry signals for individual speakers, but a representation of a spherical sound field, which is independent from the number of speakers. As a result, it allows the sound producer to think about the spherical origin of sounds and doesn’t have to deal with the final sound reproduction. In addition, it allows more freedom in the speaker placement, as signals representing the sound field can be decoded into any sound system.

The format was developed as early as the 1970s, and is recently gaining popularity again. There are three reasons for this:

  • patent expiration, which brought to many open source and proprietary software implementations,
  • the applicability of the format in the field of virtual reality,
  • as the development of sound processing, recording and production quality is reaching a limit, it becomes more interesting to develop sound spaciousness (HiFidelity <HiSpatiality)

The DIY ambison dome will be a matrix of 8 speakers placed on the dome, which was developed and used as part of PifLab and past PIFcamps.

Encoding and decoding will be done by using SuperCollider and Reaper DAW environments. Testing will involve playing, listening to and testing different algorithms for manipulating the sound field and different decoders into an array of 8 speakers. The aim of the project is to document the setup, the necessary resources and the quality of an affordable ambisonics sound format system.

aqua_forensic at PIFcamp

aqua_forensic 2.0 is a project by Robertina Šebjanič and Gjino Šutić, focused on DIY simple water analytics & effect of the invisible pharmaceutical pollutants in water.

#ocean #sea #forensic_oceanography #aqua_forensic #invisible_anthropogenic_pollutants #chemical pollutants (pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, heavy metals, oils) #marine_habitats #marine_ecology #forensic_oceanography #invisible_visible #macro_micro #terraforming #aquaforming #aquafarming #monsters

Project aqua_forensic illuminates the invisible anthropogenic (pharmaceutical) chemical pollutants – residues of human consumption – “monsters” in the waters. The project combines art/science/citizen science in a “hunt for a phantom” and opens the discussion about our solidarity and empathy with waters beyond human perception. It’s a voyage into the relationship between the microbial seas and humans who are aquaforming the water habitats all around the planet. The question is: How do the oceans feel our impact?

During PIFcamp Robertina Šebjanič and Miha Godec will host a proto aqua_forensic workshop and develop an open source tutorial on this topic. Workshop participants will be introduced to the problematics of contemporary invisible water pollutants through practice by the artists. Through hybrid approach (combining science, DIY citizen’s science & art) these topics will be investigated in local environment.

aqua_forensic is supported by Ars Electronica within the EMAP/EMARE project, Projekt Atol Institute, UR Institute (HR), Čistoća Dubrovnik, The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, and The Ministry of Culture of the R. of Croatia, Sektor Institute (SI), co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.


When photography is used to collect data about physical objects, organisms and their environment it is often referred to as photogrammetry. The observation of changing landscapes through satellite imaging or ecosystem response via stationary cameras is a widely used technique. Nonetheless, direct time resolved photography in the context of soil research has so far not been thoroughly explored.

The use of (sometimes modified) scanners for creating time-lapse videos of root growth, composting, insect behaviour, etc. is well established and often generates highly aesthetic imagery. There are many advantages of using scanners instead of cameras: after some waterproofing, scanners can be literally buried in whatever material you would like to observe. They illuminate the object/organisms only for a comparatively short time and record high resolution images. Also, since they have a fixed focus and a stable distance to the object (none), several common sources of error are eliminated.

During PIFcamp Julian Chollet will experiment with time-resolved DIY-Photogrammetry to investigate soil structure and humus accumulation as part of the ongoing HUMUS sapiens – open soil research program. The techniques as well as the results will be documented and shared with the community to promote open-source approaches for soil analysis and regeneration. HUMUS sapiens represents a compilation of soil explorations emerging from the networks of mikroBIOMIK, Hackteria, and Gasthaus – with the ambition to bring DIY (do-it-yourself) and DIWO (do-it-with-others) approaches as well as an open-source-based “hacker spirit” into soil ecology. Participants are invited to reflect on current scientific discourses and critical societal challenges through hands-on tinkering and curiosity-driven research.