What about PIFcamp 2020?

Dear PIFcampers,

After long and careful consideration we decided to carry out this year’s edition of PIFcamp, but in a (way) different format we are used to. There are several scenarios, plan Bs and alternative options for this year’s realisation, but it is clear that until the virus calms down, quarantine ends and measures in Slovenia and around the world loosen up, the event as we know it cannot be carried out. The safety and health of the participants and the team always comes first, so we ask you for patience and understanding in the next few weeks, when the options for the sixth PIF edition will be clearer.

Unfortunately, due to health reasons, there won’t be any open call for participation this year, but we guarantee that we’ll try to maintain PIFcamp’s diversity and multidisciplinarity of projects, skills and creative approaches, albeit virtually. All of the planned projects, nodes and activities will be announced on the blog, a large part of the content will also be published online.

Hopefully this year’s edition will be a one-time experiment and luckily we see each other again in the standard format next year. Last but not least, the charm of PIFcamp is also the uniqueness of each edition. For all questions and suggestions, we are available at pifcamp@ljudmila.org.

Stay healthy and hack safely,
Your PIFcamp team

Audio-visual laboratory

Composer and musician John Richards (Dirty Electronics) has brought his DIY text-to-noise synth to Trenta. In his art circuit, he is wanting to feed into it various texts and debates taking place at this year’s PIFcamp and displaying them on an embedded LCD screen. With PIF participants he was sharing his knowledge of the electronics, design of electronic circuits and construction of analogue and digital instruments. Also, variants of an instrument he named Bad of Nails were made at his workshop. For the development of which they have used materials found in the camp’s surroundings – bricks, wood, stones and the like. As he said, great fun was had while designing a radical chip for crazy low-level computer music. With minimal resources, it was done together with Staš Vrenko and Klemens Kohlweis and they hope to play it live for us.

Another regular visitor to the camp, Staša Guček, has been further developing her last yeas project MOTHeremin. She has created as many as three theremins for the blind and partially sighted, based on drawings of endangered butterflies of Slovenia. Slovenian interdisciplinary artist and programmer Tadej Droljc has made some serious strides into the development of his latest audio-visual composition here. For a project, we will be publicly presenting for the first time in Ljubljana in December, he made a circuit that can control higher voltage devices via an Arduino and has developed a converter that converts audio and laser ILDA signals.

In the surrounding of the beautiful Soča river valley, the musician and performer Janus Aleš Luznar (Yanoosh) wanted to upgrade his inter-media performance Ictuscordis, the main subject of which is his heart or heartbeat. He tried to create a sensor for sensing the heartbeat of the dancer, which in the future he wants to incorporate into the performance, thus upgrading the visual element of the performance. However, he says, time will not allow him to finish the project, the first version of which was developed last year with the help of PIFcamp.

For his spatial multi-channel audio performance musician Mitja Cerkvenik developed a midi controller with automation. And the continuation of past visual investigations of light and shadow on a moving textile surface has been undertaken by designer Kaja Kisilak and architect Lea Bradašević. Their analogue type of visuals, which for example used to be part of the Loudspeaker Alliance concert performance in the past, has now been upgraded so that the work of stretching and moving the fabric is taken over by electric motors that will create moire optical effects.

Also, other interesting musical and visual experiments are being made on the camp – projects that are one way or another related to music.

Active start

The annual exploratory trips around the camp guided by our wild man and nutrition expert, Dario Cortese, with whom we are getting to know various edible wild plants, have been upgraded this year. We are working to systematically mark the habitats of the surrounding edible wild plants. The first mapping have already taken place on the way to the abandoned village of Lemovje, located on a hill and featuring some spectacular vistas.

This year we strive to establish guidelines for a holistic approach to the understanding of our relationship to food, which has always been an important part of the camp. Some experiments with fermentation and bread baking are ongoing. Also, in a playful way food is also the focal point of a soon to be completed board game. The board game’s originators Grace Wong and Jennifer Katanyovtamant try to encourage its players to try new flavours (natto, durian, kimchi …), to make new combinations of flavours and above all, to talk about food.

Scott Kildall, an American conceptual and multimedia artist, communicates in a very unique way. By positioning various response sensors and creative electronics at different points around the camp and manipulating sound material he is recording here, he is constantly setting new and humorous tones to our surrounding. 

Possible layouts of modular outdoor mobile furniture, that would allow for participants to work, rest or spend some time even closer to nature are of interest to a group gathered around  the Greek architect Olivia Kotsifa, whose prime interest is in co-creating these possible environments of the future. With an enthusiastic group of fellows Olivia has already checked up some possible locations to set the furniture up.

The German nomadic scientist with a background in molecular biology Julian Cholle has immediately buried his hands in the ground. Visiting the camp with a desire to study and explore the soil, which he otherwise does in the context of the open research platform HUMUS sapiens, he took some samples of soil. Examined under the microscope they indicated that the soil around the camp is alive and full of microorganisms that assist in biodegradation.

Although most PIFparticipans work on their projects, there is a lot of collaboration and idea-sharing. The relaxed atmosphere and openness of the participants allow for creative exchange, validation of ideas, as well as solving completely practical and abstract problems.

A tribe of digital nomads

In the Valley of the beautiful Soča, a river situated in the unspoiled nature of the Triglav National Park, around fifty domestic and foreign multimedia artists, programmers, engineers, theorists and scientists gathered for the fifth year in a row. They embarked on a week-long journey at a summer hacking camp, working on projects at the intersection of art, science, technology, innovation and open knowledge. 

As every year, selected internationally renowned mentors are an important part of the camp, acting in a network of projects as nodes and critically addressing the field of community work, creative electronics, interactive technologies, and learning in nature. And since the camp is designed according to the principle of horizontal knowledge-sharing, the participants already familiarized themselves with the projects they intend to undertake.

The kick-off day started with participants getting familiarized with the surroundings and above all – getting to know each other. After a delicious dinner we had, the day shifted into the night with the sound of music, as the first jam session took place. Our thoughts were full of expectations of the things to come as we concluded our first day enjoying the warmth of the campfire.

Meet the node holder: Scott Kildall

Scott Kildall has been our PIFresident this year, check out what he prepared for PIFcamp!

Sonaqua Workshop

At PIFcamp, I will be leading a hands-on workshop, where you will learn how to solder electronics and build your own Sonaqua sound player, which makes audio synth sounds based on water-quality using the Mozzi libraries. This is a custom circuit board based on the ATMEL architecture and is powered by a 5V USB battery with two wires that make sounds when you put them into a glass of any water.

The workshop will take 2-3 hours, depending on your level of experience with soldering and circuits.

Unnatural Language

During PIFCamp, I will be prototyping a new project called Unnatural Language (built in a collaboration between Michael Ang). It is a network of electronic organisms (“Datapods”) that create sonic improvisations from physical sensors in the natural environment. Each Datapod has custom electronics connected to sensors, a speaker, and a wireless network. The sensed data, for example from electrodes that measure the subtle electrical variations in the leaves of plants, is transformed into a unique synthesized sound. Encased in sculptural materials (natural fiber, leather, leaves, etc) and dispersed into a natural environment, the Datapods enter into a sonic dialogue with the existing ecosystem of plants and animals.

I have built 8 of these during my PIFresidency along with several software synthesizers on the ESP32, which I will be playing with in the natural environment. At PIFcamp, I plan to build boats and other vessels to house the sensors. This project grew from my work on Sonaqua as well as experiments last year at Dinacon.

Meet Aljoša Tarandek

I’m a part of a collective where we try to expend the idea of creating real time live analogue visuals from a wide variety of different sources. But the main tool that I’m using is DIY Eurorack unit (that is not finished, that will never be finished) plugged into two oscilloscopes combined with old school video cameras and a video mixer or two or three and some other equipment that I redesigned for our purposes. The idea of creating visuals with sound is as thrilling to me as the whole process working on it. 

Besides visualising sound I’m also very keen on the idea to actually hear that sound. So yes. I’m much into sound, synthesizers and lights. Oh. I also like plants.  An idea is to combine plants and synthesizers to somehow merge them into one unit. Basically to create visuals with sound you cannot hear and with living beings. I’m more them open to participate on any workshop that has to do with sound and light. I’m very looking forward to my first PIFcamp.

Interactive sound installation by Alexandros Kontogeorgakopoulos

The project is an interactive site-specific sound installation co-created with interested members of the PIFcamp community. A series of speakers and light sensors will be mounted on the trees in the forest close to the main area of the camp in order to create a light-responsive soundscape. The installation can be experienced in the daytime due to the continuous changes of the light conditions (sun movement, clouds, leaves movement etc) or equally in the  night time where the visitors can interact with the outdoor space with torches. The second scenario will additionally give an interesting light dimension to the piece where the silhouette of the shadow of the participants will be projected on the surrounding space.

During the stay I am planning to give a workshop on embedded sound-music programming and the technologies used for the project. The interactive music system will be developed on a  small single-board computers open-source platform (the Bela platform) specifically designed for low-latency interactive audio. Bela offers high performance audio and sensor processing witch can be done in C or in Pure Data amongst other standard programming environments for computer music and new media art. With this knowledge the participants can consider using Bela board for their future projects; I recommend it especially for sound related interactive projects. Pure Data is free and open course and can of course run on a laptop and on other single board computers (i.e. Raspberry Pi) so again, this knowledge is transferable to other projects too.

With the participants we will explore soundscape composition concepts,  experiment with small patches for interactive sound processing and music composition, develop new patches,  record sounds from the surrounding environment (we could also create miniature compositions by using materials from the surrounding environment as musical instruments ) and create collectively the interactive soundscape by jamming and exploring the interaction together. In the end we will install the system in the forest with the sensors and the speakers. I will provide the Bela boards and the speakers. The participants will have to bring a laptop running Pure Data, ideas and every cool skill they have in creative projects and music. 

Find more about Alexandros here.

Makery & PiNG at PIF

Ewen Chardronnet, Marie Albert and Mona Jamois will be participating to PIFcamp as embedded chroniclers and participative observers. Ewen Chardronnet & Marie Albert will report (interviews, chronicles, photos, social media) for Makery.info online media, a member of the Feral Labs Network. Mona Jamois will collect/reflect good practices as organiser of the Summerlab 2020 that will close the Feral Labs Network 2019-2020 series.

Makery is an online information media (newsletter, website, social networks) founded by Digital Art International in June 2014. It aims to cover the dynamism and give out information on the creative communities and the scene of labs, fablabs (fabrication laboratories, terminology born in the United States within the Medialab of MIT in 2001), makerspaces (for community tinkering), hackerspaces (spaces self-managed by people wanting to divert technologies), medialabs (dedicated to new media experimentation), living labs (also known as third places, they encompass users-industries co-design in processes of innovation and experimentation), biohacklabs (the scientific, DIYbio and bioinformatics version of hacklabs), artlabs (dedicated to artistic production). It is a media in DiY mode: with its small team, Makery progressively grows in an open, transparent and participative manner, following the principles of digital ethics born by the lab wave.

Nantes Summerlab (France) is a meeting, a temporary cooperative workshop, which brings together people with different motivations, cross-disciplinary disciplines (creators, researchers, activists, entrepreneurs, artists …), around themes (nodes) they interrogate together. It is a space and a moment to make, think, share, cooperate, built to allow the greatest conviviality (free, hospitality, mix, kindness, free spaces, shared meals, parties, etc.). The contents are proposed by the participants. Participation is free upon registration, without selection criteria. Nantes Summerlab is organised by PiNG.

Read the full interview by Marie Albert (Makery) below:

Surveilling nature – exploring ultra-local FM radio

FM radio is old, noisy, and often called obsolete, but somehow it seems to never die. Smartphones FM radio functionality and cheap receivers make it still easily accessible.

During PIFcamp, Klemens Kohlweis will temporarily install tiny, autonomous FM radio transmitters in the surroundings of the camp. Within a range of only a few meters, they will transmit the sounds of simple electronic circuits that amplify or react to their surroundings with microphones, light and wind sensors, creating a listening experience that is unique to a specific point in space and time. Other participants are invited to hook up their own devices to a transmitter to take part in a final soundwalk.

Pure Data building blocks by Thomas Gibbs

Pure Data is a free/libre open source software for manipulating sound and datastreams. It uses small boxes on a screen connected by lines to twist the flow of bits. This could mean synthesising sounds, processing effects or even make things move. This dataflow-oriented programming is more like shaping and molding, rather than writing down pages and pages of instructions to achieve a goal.

In this way it is more immediate and intuitive for developing instruments, sound sculptures and (interactive) installations.

This workshop comes in four parts. Each part is composed of roughly 30 minutes of theory and 30 minutes of playful discovery. They build on each other, but can be joined (or left) based on the individual level of skill. The first session will cover the basics of PD, which means installing the software, control versus audioflow, basic operations, stream and message types. This is followed by a rough overview of synthesis, i.e. making sounds and noises. The ensuing session covers audio processing like playing files from disk, recording audio to disk, creating/using filters and effects. The final part covers interaction with the outside world using the Arduino, MIDI, OSC, MIDI, and/or computer networks.

To get the most out of the workshop bring a laptop (running Linux, OS X, or Microsoft Windows) and a headphone. You can also bring a mouse, your Arduinos (and Raspberry Pis), as well as basic electronics like LEDs or switches. You will be able to play files based on different triggers and sculpt audio in realtime by processing a multitude of sources.