Machine Alps – sculptural sound installation by Scott Kildall

Scott Kildall will be developing a new installation called “Machine Alps”, which depicts what trees, plants and fungi might sense from human interference. Using sensors connected to the leaves of plants, barks of trees and surfaces of mycelium, several sculptural nodes will drive low level synthesizers based on live data, using recorded samples of machine noise. This will be a performance where bleeps, churns, grinds and other disruptions get orchestrated into a coherent soundscape.  

Speaking through light

The electromagnetic field is a widely used medium for the transportation of information. Yet its use through free space propagation (meaning not using fiber-optic or electric cables) is mostly limited to the invisible radio spectrum. Those radio waves at comparably low frequencies can travel through walls, beyond mountains, and interplanetary dust clouds, and usually don’t keep us from sleeping. Visible light, on the other hand, can be blocked by a single fly alone and also might annoy us if it flickers through the night.

This week we do not want to be bothered by flashing lights and insects interrupting our communication channels. We want to explore how sound-carrying light looks like, how living nature alters the light, and how this affects the tonal properties of the sound. We would look at light as a specific form of electromagnetic radiation and use software-defined radio technology to modulate and demodulate the streams of photons. We will experiment with loading information onto a visible carrier wave through amplitude, frequency, and phase modulation. Not only sound can be sent via light, but also poems and pictures. Sound to light to music. Words to light to poetry. Light to light to light.

The vast landscape of Triglavski narodni park offers the perfect dimensions for long-range light transmissions. A hike will take us to an elevated place so we can deploy our (hand-crank operated?) laser walkie-talkies. We will get within line of sight and then we will speak through the light.

Speaking through light is a project by Thomas Preindl.

reDigital

The project aims to research, develop and implement techniques that will transcend the real natural world into the digital unnatural realm.

The idea is to use the new techniques and tools to digitize the cultural or natural heritage that is near Pif camp, Soča valley, river canyons, or some artifacts from the WWI Isonzo front. To use photogrammetry to scan the object of desire and bring it to a digital environment and use it in the metaverse.

The team:

Miha Godec graduated in 2014 from the Academy of Arts of the University of Nova Gorica and the Portuguese school ESAD (College of Art and Design). In addition to his photographic and artistic practices, he is also a lecturer for photography and virtual reality, while he independently conducts regular educational, scientific, and artistic workshops. In his artistic practice Godec, who works at the intersection of art, science, and new technologies, focuses on the development of new media projects, in which he researches the consequences of anthropogenic impact on aquatic ecosystems, experimenting with water acquisition, purification and researching the sonification properties of water.

Gabriela Filipović studied physics and mathematics at the Faculty of natural sciences and mathematics in Maribor. Besides other diverse side-jobs, she worked as a freelance translator and tutor, as a sound technician, music arranger and DJ. Her work experiences include areas like project management in a company for manufacturing hydraulic lifting solutions and manual testing of mobile applications. In collaboration with KID KIBLA / KIBLA2LAB she is currently active in the field of cultural heritage preservation, specifically LIDAR scanning of objects.

Žiga Pavlovič (Ljubljana, 1987) is a programmer, maker, and promoter of new technologies. He studied in Maribor, Graz and the city of Tampere in Finland and still takes most of his knowledge away from online workshops. Most of his work is in the field of virtual, augmented and mixed reality, and since 2019 also in the field of interactive installations, in collaboration with the artist Valerie Wolf Gang. He already collaborated with KID Kibla in 2016 on the preparation of an AR-enriched book, and since 2020 he has been working with them again as a creative technologist and teacher in the media laboratory Kibla2LAB in the network of research centres of arts and culture – RUK and the digital heritage incubator in the E-DURI project. 

Fungi Internet – Mycorrhizal Communication Infrastructure

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we did not have to build a cable network for The Internet but could just dock onto existing naturally grown ones?

There are dense mycorrhizal (fungi) networks in the forests that live in symbiosis with plants, receiving carbohydrates from photosynthesis and therefor providing the plants with nutrients from the soil.
But more importantly for this project: They provide a nutrient exchange system between the plants and communication channels that function by chemical and electric signalling.

Let´s compare systems on different scales and built on different matter that work with electrical and/or chemical signalling:
The first that come to mind are brains, thunderstorms, electricity networks like computers or world wide communication infrastructure.

While the weather with its electrical charge and discharge as well as brains and mycorrhizal networks exist naturally, we build our digital communication system from glass fibres and cooled server farms.

I want to propose the idea to benefit from and nurture existing fungal systems and try to send messages via these already existing paths, maybe invite the networks to grow close to human communities and create a data highway of nutrients and information.

This is a speculative storytelling project – very welcome to lead to scientific research and connect already existing studies to it, but most importantly I want to spin ideas.

Some questions to start with:

– which communication protocols are used in fungi networks and what is their message transfer speed?
– how does the symbiosis between fungi and plants work, how can it be abused?
– what does the fungal network need to flourish?
– simple (theoretical) experiments of sending a signal through a fungal network
– looking for benefits for the environment and the human need for a functioning communication infrastructure

The first story-telling and speculation session at PIFcamp will be on Monday, August 9th at 6pm.

Fungi Internet is a project by Rosi Grillmair.

Wavey Wind, The Modul-air Mitt

Using an ESP32 microcontroller with wifi and bluetooth capability, a gyroscope/accelerometer module and keyboards switches, Jurij Podgoršek will be building an experimental low cost motion “glove” controller with a button for each finger.

The idea stems from an earlier abstract visualisation project which was intended to visualise music. After building the initial prototype and hooking it up with a touch user interface of sliders that modulate the visuals, the author asked himself – why should I make the program interpret music? We already do that when we listen and (can) react by dancing; using a motion sensor, the dancing can be “amplified” by turning bodily motions into shapes and colours projected on a surface.

Using the motion mitt, the operator of visuals doesn’t have to get locked into a clumsy little touchscreen but can immerse in the experience of sound and video while co-creating it. A workshop will be held to build a number of gloves that can connect in an ad-hoc network, so that group of people could collaborate with them.

The glove(s) will send events via the open sound control protocol, opening the possibility to using using them for audio synthesis/modulation, or maybe even as a general interface.

“What Can a Body Do?”

Open hardware with open software – an introduction into designing PCBs with KiCad

Electronic devices are all around us. Whether it’s your washing machine or the device you’re reading this text on – they all have one thing in common: they contain printed circuit boards. PCBs are usually a tasty sandwich of an insulating material and one or multiple layers of thin copper used to connect electronic components and keep them mechanically fixed.

Whether you want to etch them yourself with some acid in your bathroom or you have them professionally made in a factory – learning how to design them is a super useful skill to have for anybody interested in building electronics (and potentially even for other, more unorthodox uses…).

At this years PIFcamp Klemens Kohlweis will hold a workshop on how to design your own PCBs using the (awesome!) open source software KiCad. Starting early in the week we will talk about challenges and possibilities of the design and manufacturing process, then go on to drawing our own functional and/or beautiful circuit-boards – and hopefully even get them manufactured in the same week!

PIFcamp Community Harvest

During this PIFcamp Community Harvest, media art historian Heather Contant solicits, records, digitizes, collects, and redistributes past and present memories and materials related to PIFcamp: its participants and its organizers Ljudmila, Projekt Atol, and Kersnikova’s Rampa Lab and BioTehna. The aim of this Community Harvest is to simultaneously illuminate the significance, vibrancy, and unique perspectives of the creators, collectives and practices emerging from this region and to keep the community flourishing, by providing virtual and physical forums, in which community members can share their memories and artefacts, reconnect with one another, and discuss their current and future work.

The metaphorical ‘fruit’ of this harvest will be made accessible to all via the PIFcamp website, providing a database for future community members and historians. Heather will also use this material—these signals of the past in the present—to create an improvisational performance, inspired by Signal-Sever!Scatter!, the Wardenclyffe Situations (collective performances by Marko Peljhan and Projekt Atol from the 1990s and 2000s). During this performance, individuals will be free to reconfigure the raw ingredients collected during the harvest to produce a multi-media feast to inspire and hopefully feed the community for future generations. 

IF YOU OR ANY OF YOUR LOVED ONES HAVE MEMORIES OR MATERIALS RELATED TO PIFCAMP OR ITS ORGANIZING BODIES: LJUDMILA, PROJEKT ATOL, OR KERSNIKOVA – RAMPA LAB & BIOTEHNA, WE ARE STANDING BY! CONTACT HEATHER AT this.is.editor@gmail.com TO PARTICIPATE IN HARVEST FESTIVITIES NOW! 

OctoSens

The OctoSens is a community project formed by a group of music and technology enthusiasts who, under the guidance of Vaclav Peloušek (Bastl Instruments), are combining different perspectives while developing an interface that will enable the simultaneous use of different sensors to synthesise sound and control other devices.

OctoSens

Development of a multi-sensorial synthesizer is a part of Projekt Atol and konS platform AIR programme.

Sensors and music

Musicians are always searching for new ways of creating and modifying sound. The development of new technologies and their accessibility have propelled and enabled use of sensors in sound design. However, the great variety of different sensors and lack of practical interfaces often requires a grasp on advanced technological knowledge or compels the artists to buy expensive specialised equipment; both requirements can hinder the creative process.

We decided to find solutions to this problem which would allow artists to use a great number of different sensors in an easy and intuitive way in order to modify sound. Under the guidance of Vaclav Peloušek (Bastl instruments) we have collectively designed a device and named it OctoSens.

What is OctoSens?

Having 4 analog and two digital inputs for external sensors, as well as two touchpads, the OctoSens offers 8 different ways of altering the desired parameters of sound. A built-in microphone, two tactile sensors and a digital synthesizer integrated in the microcontroller enable us to use OctoSens individually without external sensors and other instruments. We can simply connect the OctoSens to a speaker and start creating. We can use the information detected by the sensors to control volume, pitch, filter frequency and other parameters of the integrated digital synthesizer. Artists who already have other instruments, synthesizers and effects could use the OctoSens to connect to their existing gear and multiply its functionality: OctoSens can output different Cv/gate signals and create MIDI information, which can be used to control multiple external devices simultaneously. OctoSens will conform to Eurorack format so that synth-enthusiasts could incorporate it into their Eurorack setup, however, an individual enclosure for those who prefer to use it as a stand-alone device, will be available as well. It will be compatible with the popular microcontrollers Arduino micro and Teensy 3.2 which means that it will be accessible to a wide circle of DIY enthusiasts to further increase its functionality with their own code.

Practical example of the use of OctoSens

So, would you like to adjust the tempo of the song to fit your heartbeat, adapt the volume according to light and control the pitch with the movement of your body? All you have to do, is connect a heart-beat sensor and a light sensor to the analog inputs of the OctoSens and a gyroscope to one of the digital inputs. By pressing the multifunction buttons, we can map the connected sensors to the desired parameters of the integrated synth and use the rotary knobs to calibrate the sensors to a level, ideal for modulating the sound in a musical way.

The objective of the OctoSens project

OctoSens will be an innovative and a competitive product on the quickly evolving market of electronic instruments. At the same time, it will exist in the form of a DIY workshop that will enable its participants to learn exactly how the sensors work and become more knowledgeable on sound synthesis as well as the basics of electronics.

The goal of this project is not solely the process of product development and sale, but it is foremost an effort of creating a community that brings together different generations, providing an interdisciplinary environment that offers an invaluable exchange of knowledge between professional engineers, artists, students of different fields and audio-electronics enthusiasts.

Mechanical Nature

Anna Carreras, Marta Verde and Mónica Rikić want to develop an artistic intervention or interactive device, mixing code, electronics, visuals and nature. In their own separate artistic practice they mainly work with randomness, complexity and robotics. They are planning on putting all their expertise together and have fun creating a new artistic collaboration from scratch on site.

Conceptually, their proposal seeks the nature of machines from speculative fiction. Through the prototyping of autonomous micro systems, they want to talk about the freedom of machines and the search for their own essence far from human projection, technological development and its obsession on imposing an artificial intelligence to it, understanding AI as the search of an improved human copy.

To search for this “Mechanical Nature”, they want to use their personal research on different non-human complex systems: how they are generated, organised, regulated, and hierarchised. Also, experiment with the different possibilities of the simple movements of the micro robots made by motors and other small electronic components, individually and as a group. They will try to create behaviour patterns for these self-sufficient mechanical organisms inspired by insects, plants, wind, clouds, water, any non-human data we can get inspired from, and let them flow. They also intend to use different materials found in nature to combine them with the small electronic components and microcontrollers and generate these ecosystems.

The process of creating them would be as follows:
– Selection and observation of a specific aspect of nature
– Experimentation of the patterns regarding the mechanical application of them
– Experimentation with natural materials in conjunction with technological ones
– Flow of matter and energy within the ecosystem: how some beings depend on each other within that world, how they relate and communicate with each other and with the environment.

The elements and materials they will use to create ecosystems will be: low voltage micro motors, small sensors and actuators (such as LEDs, mp3 players, photoresistors, electromagnets), organic materials (like woods, leaves, moss, stones, water – in different forms- , flowers, seeds).

Micro – Stories

Micro – Stories is an Art & Fungi Project by Irina Antonets.

How do mushrooms speak through/interact/play with us?
Since my childhood, I’ve been fascinated by bizarre and beautiful world of fungi. The more I learn about them, the more obsessed I get! I’m collecting and analysing mushroom stories from all around the world, and then planning to create series of artworks based on those micro-stories AND microscopic research that I’m going to be conducting while in the camp.
Each story is unique and individual, each of us perceives fungi through our own personal perspective. At the same time, the more stories I receive the more I see how all of them are creating one sophisticated and fascinating structure which reminds me of mycelium connections under the ground.
Feel free to join me, collect, and take a closer look at fungi. Or maybe you would like to share your fungi story with me? You’re pretty free to say what you want or what comes to your mind about mushrooms but in case you need a little guidance here are the questions you might want to answer:

  • Why do you love fungi? How did they influence you?
  • How mushrooms are perceived in your country/culture?
  • What was your first encounter with fungi?
  • What can we learn from mushrooms?
  • What’s the most fascinating thing about fungi?