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!
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.
The last day at PIF started off with preparations for a busy evening full of project presentations, performances and… a farewell Milky Way themed party!
Some of the participants were racing to make the most of the day and to wrap up their projects or gather as much research materials as possible to continue their work after they return back to their labs and studios. Miha Godec for example spent the morning paddling in the Soča river, to acquire footage for his 360 degrees VR work.
Meanwhile, back in the camp, the others were cramming around the table where T-shirts and other garments were being decorated by this year’s PIF graphics.
For the whole week the cozy shadow of a nearby tree hosted a pop-up tattoo shop run by Leoni Voegelin, Rodolfo Costa Castro, Julian Jungel and Hannah Perner-Wilson that by now resulted in some very interesting personalized drawings proudly worn by quite many PIFcampers.
Now, the tree became a storytelling venue for yet another PIFcamp project, when Irene read her mycostories (stories she collected si far about how mushrooms influenced and changed people’s lives) to the gathered crowd.
Beepblip (Ida Hiršenfelder) who joined PIFcamp to embark on the expedition to the vast universe of retrofututrist sound has been building a complicated DIY analog synthMusic from Outer Space Sound Lab ULTIMATE since she arrived at Soča. On the last day, she was tucked away in her make-shift studio and focused on preparing the presentation of the work she has done over the week. Her’s was also the first presentation to launch the evening programme of performances that spanned three venues and was masterfully organized by Jacky.
Ida performed in the “DIY ambisonic dome” that is a continuation of last years project by Blaž Pavlica, who experimented with spatial sound synthesis and processing. This time Blaž worked with synthesis of the 3D sound fields and new sound effects possible in ambisonics format with the SuperCollider programming and livecoding environment. The dome, that was for this evening renamed as the “Shooting Stars from Mars” venue, hosted several performances of the last day’s programme.
The second venue was the basketball field behind the school where most of the participants have been staying for the past week. Under the red light of Janez Grošelj’s light installation, the performance of the Cracking Choir and a Robot Chicken Movie screening by Mónica Rikic and Anna Carreras happened but also spoken word performance by the tattoo crew, Voices of PIF field recordings by Heather, and an acupuncture hack performance by Stephanie and her son, accompanied by sound by Jacky Noise and visuals by Jurij. Later the basketball field served also as a stage for Jesus on Ecstasy and Toyota Vangelis.
Besides the “dome”, Bernhard set up his laser to once again create some stunning projections on a nearby tree, while Tilen and Matija played their sets.
When the bonfire slowly started to wane, the PIFcampers moved to the dancefloor to heat up the atmosphere. The dance turned into a small rave that crowned the conclusion of the seventh edition of PIF. We hope there are many more to come!
No excuse was good enough to avoid the traditional Friday mandatory hike to Velika Korita where PIFcampers are every year able to cool down in the (almost) ice-cold Soča river.
Upon returning and after enjoying a deserved lunch the PIF participants resumed the work on their projects, while several workshops were taking place around the camp, for example, a cat rescue workshop aka rope tree climbing and a workshop on the history of mutual aid and economic modelling, followed by two more workshops focused on MQTT and Wavey Wind motion controller.
While everybody was immersed in their activities, the art and crafts department formed spontaneously at one of the tables to create “the most beautiful PIFcamp schedules of the Saturday wrap-up program so far”, according to Tina.
The evening concluded with by now the usual jam session.
We entered the second half of the PIFcamp week with a strong FOMO feeling. The schedule was full of planned workshops already in the morning as if everybody feared there would not be enough time to finish all the work before the seventh edition of PIFcamp concludes. Only three days left…
So the activities started immediately after breakfast when Miha Godec invited the participants to join him in the tent which in the fore-noon sun slowly started turning into a sauna. The participants didn’t mind the heat though and were keen to follow the beginner’s guide to VR and 360 panorama videos. The workshop offered an overview of possibilities and tools and allowed everybody to try on the helmets and gain a first-person VR experience.
Just before noon Hannah and Julian organized a workshop where participants learned how to craft a paper speaker…
…while on the other side of the camp a kids-only workshop was taking place. Monica, Marta and Anna taught the PIFcamp’s youngest how to build their own CHICKEN ROBOTS! Look around you, the chicken robots are among us, and rumors are spreading they will soon show up again…
Right after lunch, Qianxun Chen held a workshop on textual seedling, that – unfortunately – had to be less practical than expected, due to server issues. Nonetheless, the idea of “growing” a digital plant in your browser, based on natural language associations, fascinated all the participating campers.
The meme specialist Maggie Kane continued with her etching party where participants got to etch their favorite memes on a PCB board.
After dinner, Stefanie presented a short lecture on ethical hardware, that focused on her experiences and challenges of working on the intersection of feminism and technology. Besides the issues related to gender inequality in the tech field that she and her colleagues are addressing with workshops and exhibitions at Mz* Baltazar’s Lab in Vienna, Stefanie’s lecture touched upon the questions of the ecological impact of technologies, as the materials these consist of, copper, for example, are tied to chains of ecological and social exploitation. “The future is that we look for substitutes for the materials and components that are not ethically sourced”, stressed Stefanie, while showing the interested PIFcrowd some examples of art projects that test out different, ecologically friendlier alternatives or make their works out of recycled materials. As an example of the latter, she pointed out a project by one of the PIFcamp-goers present, Irene Posch’s The Embroidered Computer that consists of (textile) relays, similar to early computers before the invention of semiconductors, and is solely built from a variety of metal threads, magnetic, glass and metal beads. The project is inspired by traditional crafting routines and patterns and explores the possibilities of re-using historic gold embroidery materials and knowledge to craft a programmable 8-bit computer.
The jam session involved even a larger group of participants this evening. Blaž Pavlica joined in as well with his live-coded visuals, and the party went on long after the bloggers went to bed.
The camp was quiet on Wednesday morning at breakfast time. Thirty PIFcamp participants embarked on a hike to Krnsko lake already at 7 am, leaving the remaining half of the PIFcrowd enjoying some peace and quiet, and shorter waiting lines at the breakfast table. The hike was led by Neža and although the route they took this year was not as challenging as the last time, the surrounding Triglav’s national park still offered some spectacular views.
Upon return, after even the last hikers had had their deserved lunch, the tables got quickly repopulated, and the regular PIFcamp routine resumed once again.
Many attended the workshop led by Joreg about the toolkit VVVV, and everybody had their fun trying the visual programming interface to discover the possibility of this innovative tool.
Then, it was the turn of the knife etching workshop, held by Simon, that lured a good bunch of enthusiasts of their precious tools, looking forward to color and decorate them.
After dinner, Heather Contant talked about Makrolab, PIFcamp’s older cousin as she named it, and Blaž Pavlica led a workshop about drawing with code with P5live, where psychedelic animations were made live and directly on the browsers of the participants.