Diving Into the Posthumanist Practice

Tamara Lašič Jurković is an interdisciplinary designer, researcher and teaching assistant specializing in design theory, who plans to host a workshop PIFcamp to create a local version of the collaborative game Left With a Memory, present her project Hacked Meditation and refine her PhD topic proposal. All three endeavours—the PhD topic and the two projects—are rooted in posthumanist theory in terms of moving beyond human-centered design approaches, challenging anthropocentric beliefs, recognizing the interconnectedness of the “web of life” and comprehending human dependence on natural ecosystems and other biotic organisms. Hacked Meditation is a guided audio meditation that questions the exclusivity and definition of the human being by exploring the microbial life within and outside our bodies. Left With a Memory is a collaborative, educational memory game that highlights the surprising number of red-listed endangered species resulting from the destructiveness of human activity. Lastly, for her PhD, Tamara aims to explore how strategic board game development methods can be implemented in the posthumanist design process and whether board games can be an effective teaching tool for introducing the posthumanist perspective in design.

RIP Your Tech. A Bioplastic Send-Off Party! by Sabina Suru & Andrei Tudose

Have you ever held onto a piece of technology long after its prime? A phone that is too old to even connect to the internet, a cassette player lost in the digital age, a gadget gathering dust in a forgotten drawer, or a film camera received from a friend which just doesn’t function anymore? These relics whisper stories of our ever-evolving relationship with the digital world.

This summer at PIFcamp, Marginal via visual artist Sabina Suru and curator Andrei Tudose, invite you
to Places of Care, to explore these quiet narratives and craft a gentle farewell for our ageing
technologies. The project challenges traditional perceptions of technology and fosters a deeper appreciation for the complex ecosystem it creates, highlighting the importance of care for technology and a shift towards a more responsible approach to resource management in the technological sector and beyond, opening up conversations about the ecological footprint of technology and the need for sustainable practices in its production and disposal.

Oh, speaking of disposal – how do you feel about waste? Not e-waste (well, not just yet), but bio-waste, growing in front of our eyes. Now, imagine transforming this everyday waste into bioplastic, instead of the ever present plastic made of fossil fuel-based chemicals, today’s biggest frown-upon villain.

What is bioplastic, you ask? It’s a material derived from renewable sources like plant starches or vegetable fats, offering a more sustainable alternative to its petroleum-based counterpart. During collaborative working sessions, we’ll get our hands dirty (in a good way!) experimenting with these innovative materials. We’ll make bioplastics from scratch, using everyday materials like agar agar, flour, kitchen scraps and whatever biowaste we’ll stumble upon around the camp.

These materials will become gentle shrouds for your abandoned technologies (please bring some with you!), eco-friendly burial garments which will not only commemorate our cast-off gadgets, but also become the building blocks for a larger installation Sabina is working on. Yap, your e-waste will find its resting place at the Bucharest Technical Museum in October, for the Places of Care exhibition, a testament to our techno-ecology and our possibilities for responsible consumption.

Join us if you wish to:
● Reimagine the afterlife of technology: Give your tech a gentle send-off and explore themes
related to ecology of technology, obsolescence and responsible consumption.
● Embrace new materials: Learn to make bioplastics from sustainable and readily available
ingredients.
● Be part of a collaborative artwork: Contribute to a wider installation displayed at a really cool
museum!

Bacterial Field Guide by Maya Minder

Kombucha, as a new material (also praised for its probiotic benefits for our digestive system), holds potential as a suitable approach to familiarize oneself with the complex world of microorganisms. Bacterial cellulose as made inside Kombucha is a new model system for cooperation and conflict in a complex multi-species microbial environment. As Lynn Margulis pointed out that bacterial life as part of the five kingdoms is the predominant lifeforms on planet Earth and the most ancestral life form developed in wet humid environments.  The encounter and study from an artistic approach bears great potential of learning from bacterial live and existence through the view of non-human perspectives while diving into a field trip of encounter using microscopes, human sensory and deep contemplation. The Workshop will endorse the symbiotic approaches of how human perceive microbes through history involving a holistic approach of understanding the kingdom of bacteria by workshops and field trips. Within this workshop we will dwell into various aspects of Kombucha and the existence of biofilms in natural environment, its composition and perceiving in a human scale sensory apparatus. Hands on Workshops on how to grow bacteria, how to sing with bacteria, how to draw and colourful create recipes of enhancing or interfering human microbiome, but also biologic knowledge and micro-cosmomological perceptions of plant-human, plant microbial, stone-microbial, organic inorganic symbiotic living territories of bacteria. Coping, hunting and analyzing them by going back into the beginnings and history of microbiology science threw Louis Pasteur, Sergei Winogradsky and Heinrich Anton de Bary as well as but also mapping out field trips for investigating into geological appearance of microbial matts pre-existing on planet Earth (Stromatolites) as primer terrestrial landscape. 

Bacterial cellulose made of Kombucha requires research and practice in handling the material. Creating protocols for growing bacterial cellulose requires time, space and stillness to research its density, thickness and strength of the material, as well as drying processes, duration and durability of the layers, the post-treatment still to explores can be adapted to traditional leather making processes. For the appropriate duration of several months as the preparation and post-processing time, I conducted the research on bacterial cellulose produced by fermentation of kombucha and its production and processing process and led to interesting results, the results of which led to further research and practical application as well as workshop giving but for Piff camp mainly the sharing knowledge and creating encounters, experience and new possible collaborations

Working with the new biomaterial requires adaption and familiarize with the uncanny bacterial existence. To learn microbial behaviour means to adapt to a pre-historic deep time understanding of original archaic lifeforms. In this workshop I propose to learn from an hands-on approach inside the outdoor lab using olfactory, sensory, biohacking and sensorial methods to approach microbial existence as well as field trip explorations to visit ancient and modern existence of microbial matts in our environment. We will additionally research in our approximate environment and explore the concept of biofilms as a biomass pre-existing and predominant during the triassic period by visiting the Karst mountains. Through tapping into invisible life and their ability of growing microbial matts by microbial activity we will get familiar by approaches of Lynn Margulis or Betsy Dexter Dyer, feminist Biologists who are leading in the approach of symbiogenesis, welcoming a more close look into the predominant existing species of microbes. To oppose and decolonize knowledge of them as laboratory guinea pigs by western science epistemology of microbiology biochemistry.

Oscilloscope Music

Oscilloscope Music is audiovisual music, where the visuals are drawn using sound. In order to get the closest possible correlation between image and sound, the exact same signal that is connected to the left and right speakers is also connected to an analog oscilloscope’s X and Y inputs, producing complex lissajous images.

Over the span of six years Jerobeam Fenderson and Hansi3D have created ever more elaborate techniques to explore this largely uncharted field of audiovisual music, resulting in a full length album, as well as the unique 3D-audio software OsciStudio. For PIFcamp they will do a little performance, host an introductory workshop to lasers and/or oscilloscopes and maybe try to do a tiny laser light installation.

The Emergent Synchrony

Can a group of people, animals, or even robots in a given environment achieve coordinated behavior without external coordination or control?

Julia Múgica will work on a project that deals with the intriguing concept of collective behavior. Her focus will be on the emergence of synchronization, which showcases how this phenomenon goes beyond individual actions and emphasizes the importance of self-organization through local interactions. To illustrate this phenomenon, Julia plans to employ various approaches, including particle systems to create live-coded visuals and generate textures using noise algorithms.

Additionally, she will collaborate with Alicia Champlin on an investigation related to potential synchronization in the heartbeats of individuals entering Blaž Pavlica’s dome. Lastly, in collaboration with Lina Bautista and Iván Paz, they aim to build a set of small swarm robots known as “the kilobots”. These robots were developed in 2012 and will be programmed to perform collective algorithms, further highlighting the idea of emergent synchrony.

For more information about Julia Múgica Gallart’s project, visit her video presentation on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZCm2rcF2Yk

Stones and physical computing

For this year’s PIFcamp Jelisa Weber will be working on a project with a focus on engraving stone materials like boulders and river pebbles with a half-automatic milling process. The search for suitable stones and surfaces for engraving will serve as preparation and also as a small survey, documented in pictures. These images, or any images resulting from this process, are then re-engraved on the stones.

Using a handled milling device controlled by an Arduino, the images are going to be translated pixel row by pixel row into darker and brighter areas. Leaving a mark in the history of the ever-changing minerals.

Drawing from her prior experience in a similar project, where she combined an Arduino with a tattoo machine, in order to „print“ images with it. Jelisa sees this as an opportunity to transition from Processing (free graphical library and integrated development environment) to Python, elevating the image-processing script’s potential to new heights.

Field Oscillator

Oriol Pares is a New Media Artist specialized in the use of technology as an explorative tool for communication. During this year, he started building his first DIY synthesizer project with a sensor able to track galvanic changes on a living matter. He intends to bring that instrument and continue his exploration, connected to the vibrant and special landscape surrounding the camp.

And, If there are any fellow oscillator enthusiasts at PIFcamp wanting to join, try, out or even collaborate, the next part of the Field Oscillator instrument may not be that far away. ;)

Anomalous Anomalies

This year’s PIFresident is Michael Candy, an Australian artist who works with physical technologies and robotics. His installations and experiments often manifest as interactive sculptures, videos, or interventions. During his PIFresidency at PIFcamp Michael hopes to continue his ‘anomaly’ experiment series in which robotics and light are used to create unlikely spectacles.

He started this series of work in December last year when a prototype drone was built to stabilize a laser excited phosphor beam of light as it ascended, resulting in a slowly extending beam of light. Another experiment was a floating robot underneath the surface of a frozen lake, shining light back through as it maneuvered around until the batteries froze over. He has no idea what anomalies might manifest during PIFcamp, as they are mostly designed around their environment; but he surely will bring a lot of parts to play around with!

Additionally, Michael will be working on his project with other PIFcampers, who are eager to work with electromechanical tech, and possibly continue this collaboration further into the residency in Ljubljana. He will share his extensive experience with designing robots and animatronics for cinematic applications with anyone wanting to build physical robotics, or needing help with a mechanism design. Sounds like something you are into? Just hit him up!

PIFresidency is a cooproduction between Projekt Atol Institute, Lightning Guerrilla/Forum Ljubljana and Kersnikova Institute. With financial support from Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Municipality of Ljubljana, Department for Culture and SYSTEMICS LAB/UCSB. PIFresidencies are part of the Rewilding Cultures project and co-funded by the European Union.

Networked Touch Workshops

Rob Canning of Zavod Rizoma will lead two experimental instrument building workshops culminating in an informal improvised musical/sound/noise performance. Workshops will combine a sculptural, craft and upcycling element with a technological element, allowing the made objects to become touch sensitive instruments or interfaces.

One workshop will be directed at younger PIFlars and shall involve less coding and place more emphasis on listening, sound recording, simple soldering and creative object construction. The more advanced workshop will look more closely at the technological back-end enabling participants to integrate capacitive touch interfaces into their own creative workflow using the esp32 and the OSC protocol.

#newinterfacesformusicalexpression #opensoundcontrol #capacitiveTouch #wireless #100%freeandopen sourcesoftware #openhardware #supercollider #puredata #audacity

Both workshops are part of konS:: Platform for Contemporary Investigative Art and produced by LokalPatroit, Ljudmila Art and Science Laboratory and Projekt Atol Institute.

konS:: Platform for Contemporary Investigative Art is a project chosen on the public call for the selection of the operations “Network of Investigative Art and Culture Centres”. The investment is co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union.

What about food and VR technologies?

During PIFcamp 2023, Sophia Bulgakova is planning to experiment with food and various augmentation of reality using XR technologies and analogue tools of sensory deprivation while dining.

She wants to conduct testing & tasting sessions together with other participants exploring their relationship with various sensory stimulants with a focus on food and dining as a communal ritual. How can a change in visual perception affect the taste of certain foods? Can physical togetherness be achieved at a distance? How our taste buds be tricked by the stimulation of other senses? These experimentations will be a part of her collaborative, ongoing umbrella project, Metaphysical Tastings, which Sophia is working on together with Leonardo Scarin & Cemre Deniz Kara.

Sophia will also continue her experimentations with the analogue/digital VJ set-up she is developing and work on arranging jam and play sessions with other participants of this year’s program.