Thank you Videokeks for the vivid PIFtopia memories!
Rainy Thursday was followed by a rainy Friday. PIFtopia thankfully avoided the more serious storms, but owing to the extreme conditions in several regions across Slovenia, the decision had to be made to call off the Open Saturday. The wrap-up of PIFcamp was nevertheless breathing down the PIFparticipants’ necks. So, despite the relentless rain, we witnessed the usual Friday levels of diligence.
Laurent, whom we have already written about in this year’s PIFlog, decided to start his presentation right after breakfast. He presented his setup, which combines dance and coded music in his performances, to those who hadn’t yet marveled at his (really special!) live coding interface. Free from all PIFproject commitments, he was able to attend workshops, presentations, and jams throughout Friday and Saturday.
Meanwhile, Maya Minder‘s plans to research and produce a bacterial field guide were interrupted by the rainy weather during the week, so she has arranged a presentation of one of her past projects under the canopy – a workshop on making power cells from microbes, which she is developing and running in collaboration with Miranda Moss. Kraut Source Energy is well documented on the Hackteria wiki, where you can also download the instructions for producing energy from various stinky substances like sauerkraut, urine, or mud.
Already before lunch, we noticed certain indications that noise would dominate Friday as far as sound is concerned. Dan Xu invited the PIFlars to build kraakdoos, noise-making experimental instruments developed by Michel Waisvisz in the 1970s at Amsterdam’s STEIM, under the slogan “Let’s make some noizzzeee”.
The crackle box, as the name of this simple instrument translates from Dutch, is played simply by touching it, which neatly connects Dana’s workshop with the activity that was (still) going on under the tent in the meantime. Participants in Rob’s workshop continued to build instruments from the Networked Touch series. More on this in the report from Saturday’s events.
After a spot-on lunch (fish and potato salad), a few of the curious gathered for Nejc‘s presentation on creating animations with artificial intelligence. Nejc presented his practice and shared a number of other interesting facts, such as his fascination with solar punk, while also briefing the audience on his project in progress, a short experimental generative animated film with the working title First We Must Listen to the Trees, in which he explores social situations in relation to the environment and the ecosystem, as well as coexistent and sustainable ways of living.
Before it got dark in the PIFcamp, we enjoyed two more artist talks on the terrace: first, the audience was entertained by Jani Pirnat, who is a curator at Ljubljana’s Vžigalica Gallery outside of PIFtopia, and also one of our favourite Slovenian contemporary artists at our week-long gatherings in Soča. Jani presented his two previous PIFprojects, Peasant Resistance and Rock’n’roll. While the former tasted internet fame for a few days, the latter – a cement mixer transformed into a disco ball with a rolling stone inside – only amused PIFlars so far. But judging by the audience’s reaction, it is likely that it will also be presented to an outside public soon.
Next, Michael Candy, this year’s PIFresident, presented previous projects and delighted the audience with infectious joy for building robots and stories from previous artistic residencies. We caught a video of Ether Antenna, a work created during a residency at the Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN). This narrative short film, beautifully edited to music by Pauline Anne Strom, is based on Buddhist tales, with robots, of course, performing all parts. Ah, yes, and there’s a PIFlog recommendation, too: if you’re in Ljubljana in September, don’t miss Michael’s installation as part of the autumn extension of the Lighting Guerrilla festival.
Friday night was spent mostly draining the canopies and tent wings, but of course not without additional soundscapes that complemented and occasionally overpowered the raindrops – from the noise jams to the terrace party, there’s room for everyone at PIFtopia.
As you might have guessed from the title of this post, Thursday’s timetable was filled with workshops. Even though we really try hard to deliver news from PIFcamp on time, we are experiencing a minor setback, which is as much due to the fact there was a lot going on as it is to the gargantuan amounts of rain yesterday. There’s only so many dry working spaces when the PIFlake starts to form. However, this did not completely spoil the participants’ plans for the workshops. Shortly after breakfast, the first in the series of Touch Network workshops took place – Meta’s brooches and other decorations making workshop with LEDs. Also, one of the most popular PIFworkshops ever.
Meanwhile, Rob was in the tent preparing the presentation of the second workshop in the Touch Networks series, a workshop on making experimental musical instruments. After an introductory tech explanation, the participants went on a quest to find suitable bases for their instruments. Once they were satisfied with their findings, they started to upgrade the planks and logs into touch-sensitive musical instruments that send messages to Rob’s SuperCollider via the OSC protocol.
Simultaneously, the Instant Party workshop by Lina Bautista was taking place on the terrace. She introduced the participants to live coded music, explained the core principles of live coding and talked about the Tidal Cycles environment, which is one of the most popular tools among musician-coders. The practical part of the workshop followed. Participants experimented with live coding in MiniTidal and (for an instant) experienced collaborative coding using Estuary, a browser-based environment. As Alicia enthusiastically explained, the best feature of this collaborative coding tool is that it synchronizes the timing of all the participants, making it the ideal solution for remote participatory coding.
We also talked to one of the attendees, Julia, who had a great time during Lina’s workshop, and particularly remembered her saying that the whole point of live coding music is to have fun. She says that the workshop lived up to its name as it offered instant fun. On the spot, we also caught Lina’s excellent explanation of another core principle of live coding – it’s not just about sharing the screen (to quote one of the points of the manifesto), but about sharing in the broadest sense. By giving listeners or viewers a behind the scenes insight into the process, we allow them to copy the code and play our song or set themselves.
Under the tent, Rob’s workshop was gradually joined by a workshop by the Oscilloscope Music duo, about whom we have already written extensively in the PIFwednesday post. As expected after their amazing AV show on Wednesday, their workshop attracted quite an audience. The participants first learned the basics of safely handling lasers, familiarized themselves with Hansi’s and Chris’s set-up and software, and then tried their hand at laser visualizations.
After lunch, a group of anything-food-related enthusiasts gathered at the other side of the PIFcamp for coffee and beetroot cake. Ahac welcomed them in his cosy little corner and invited them to share memories of Dario Cortese, who “really connected PIFcamp with nature”, as our host so aptly put it. They shared stories about this forager and explorer of fermentation, edible wild plants and the surrounding wilderness. If there is one common point among all the stories, it is the fact that everyone who knew him misses Dario. Unfortunately, yours truly had to leave the PIFood corner, and will report on the conversations that took place later in one of our future post.
Although it may seem that the PIFlars were unable to progress with their PIFprojects due to the abundance of workshops and rainfall, we can immediately reassure you that this was not the case. If life gives PIFlars the rain, they will come up with a high-tech solution and get on with the job. One of our personal favourites has to be Jelissa’s laptop cover. As often happens at PIFcamp, she didn’t need this solution to move forward with her PIFproject. She teamed up with the artistic duo Swamp_Matter, Eva and Ana Laura, and she was happy to share her coding skills with them. One of the project team members who (like Jelissa) has organically become part of their artistic exploration is Jure, but more on that in the report from Saturday’s presentations. Hint: you’ll be reading about dancing stones.
In the evening, the live coder community continued working on their PIFproject of infecting the participants with this artistic practice. Blaž organized a live coding workshop in the Hydra environment, which you may remember from last year’s PIFlog. He was clearly successful in this effort, since all the workshop participants later showed off their newfound knowledge at the From Scratch PIFevent, where they visualized the music of participants from Lina’s workshop and the seasoned live coders.
The evening slowly faded into night. Since it’s late, and your reporter has packing and tidying up to do tomorrow, she’ll try to summarize the events in a concise sequence of simple sentences and words, followed by a series of photos: From Scratch with 15 performers, Ewen Chardronnet’s amazing set and a b2b with Blaž, community bonding, a cocktail party, a fierce tarot fight, an epic battle with the level and the perimeter of the PIFlake. Good night!
Epic PIFbattles. Photo: Katja Goljat, Matjaž Rušt
Due to obvious (weather) reasons Open Saturday is cancelled tomorrow. PIFcamp is standing (for now), but people in other parts of Slovenia were not so lucky. Go help them if you can!
Since one-woman-blog-team hasn’t found the words yet to describe yesterday’s epic PIFday, here comes a photo dump (and two captions). More words tomorrow!
Traditionally, the first part of Wednesday at the PIFcamp is reserved for the hike to Krn Lake. Getting up at 6:00 is not the most popular activity, but every year, a fair number of PIFlars choose to participate – our favourite breakfast team, who open their sandwich shop on Tuesday evening for the occasion, reported 12 orders. Hikers were led by Jaka from Ekologi brez meja (Ecologists Without Borders), who is also in charge of the waste management at this year’s PIFcamp, keeping a watchful eye on (and weighing) the amount of different types of waste. Based on the data collected, he will propose guidelines for future improvements.
Your reporter was helping with preparations for the PIFconcert at the Fort Kluže on Wednesday, so she was unable to attend the hike. Luckily, PIFlars are just one step away at all times. We talked to Oriol, who enjoys going to the mountains, and he was very pleased with the trip. The group walked the not-too-difficult route from the Klement Jug mountain lodge in Lepena to the lake in just over two hours, before taking in the view of the beautiful Krn Lake, stopping for a coffee in the mountain lodge and signing the visitors’ book. The return journey took a little longer, but our mountaineers still managed to reach the base PIFcamp in time for lunch.
On the initiative of Jani Pirnat, another PIFcamp familiar, part of the organizing team decided to move one of the numerous jam sessions, which take place on the PIFterrace, to the walls of the walled courtyard of the Fort Kluže. The event, held under the title PIFconcert and Algorave: Lasers, beeping and lightning, featured no less than 14 performers. The majority of the audience was made up of PIFcamp participants, but we also noticed a few dozen external visitors. The courtyard of the Fortress is a beautiful venue, but this was not the reason why the event was a success. We should thank the wonderful performers right at the beginning of this report, for their music and visuals that transported us to different dimensions.
At 9 pm sharp, the stage was taken over by the first first-time trio of performers: multi-instrumentalists Rob Canning and Robbie Hopper were accompanied on live coded visuals in P5LIVE by Julia Múgica (aka Dr. Ju). Another premiere duo featuring Tilen Sepič and Linalab (Lina Bautista) followed with a modular synths-live coding combo. Lina used the Mercury environment for the first time in a public performance, and we must say it didn’t show. Halfway through their performance Hansi3D and Jerobeam Fenderson climbed one of the walls of the fortress and covered the interior walls with multi-colored laser nebulae.
The audience was already well warmed up when Oscilloscope Music turned their lasers in the opposite direction, facing the hill below Fort Hermann. Judging by the gasps, cheers and applause during their AV set, the audience was nevertheless caught off-guard by their dazzling show. One of the participants posted a story on her instagram profile during which we managed to overhear the following priceless comment: “What’s thaaaat?!! I just found myself in 16 dimensions at the same time!”
After the dynamic lasers duo, another PIFsupergroup took the stage, this time consisting of Manu Retamero aka ëgg and Tina Tonagel, accompanied by Sophia Bulgakova‘s digital-analogue visual delights. The last two performances were yet another treat for live coding fans: the supertrio of the Toplap Barcelona collective – Iván, Roger and Niklas – showed off their programming and performance skills and, of course, their screens. Iván codes his music in SuperCollider with the assistance of AI, Niklas performs in his own Mégra language, while Roger used Animatron, a 2D animation live coding environment he co-created with Glen Fraser, for the visuals. Laurent, who prepared his AV set in FoxDot, provided the perfect finale with exactly the right amount of rhythms, repetition and melody. Wednesday didn’t exactly provide a traditional end to the day, but a glance at the timetable announced a much more traditional Thursday – workshop on workshop on workshop. A true classic, which of course we will also report on.
please wait. PIFlog entry coming soon.
Participants woke up to a slow, rainy Tuesday. Grey clouds were hovering over PIFcamp for most of the day, but few raindrops won’t stop PIFlars, maybe just slow them down a bit. In the morning, the kimchi-making workshop, led by Maya Minder, retreated to Neža’s kitchen. We will report on the results on Saturday, when the fermented delicacy will be ready for tasting.
After lunch, Alicia Champlin and Julia Múgica invited the participants for a heart rate monitor building workshop. Their wearable device uses an EPS32 microcontroller that sends the data of the heart rate sensor over WiFi. Alicia and Julia will then sonify the data and make a sound piece for a multi-channel setup. Their initial plan was to present it in the dome, but we’re sorry to say the weather conditions don’t seem to be ideal for that.
This year’s PIFresident, Michael Candy, who enjoys making nonsensical devices, presented his drone, on which he sometimes mounts a mobile phone with videos he has taken in other locations. Because he can. Michael is also an avid robot builder, so stay tuned for more info on his PIFprojects.
Rob Canning and his daughter Meta have been preparing for Thursday’s Networked Touch workshops, which will provide participants with a choice of three levels of complexity – from an LED brooch to a musical instrument that can be played by touching wires. Apart from building various devices, some PIFparticipants were also hard at work laying bricks. Meet Martin Mušič (on the photo below Rob) who works with clay and porcelain. He already invited fellow participants to get their hands dirty and try different types of clay for modelling objects. One of his PIFprojects also includes building a DIY clay burning oven to be used by the end of the week.
The last Tuesday workshop was delivered by Rodolfo Acosta Castro, who enthused the participants with bat calls, echolocation, and bat detection devices. His own design, a bat detection device which translates the ultrasound frequencies to lower frequencies, audible to humans, really impressed the audience. Rodolfo prepared the materials for the participants, so they can build the devices themselves – apart from the receiver, he also designed a synth for reproducing bat calls. The most enthusiastic PIFlars started soldering right away, while the majority of the workshop participants just assembled the kits and made plans to start building in the following days. Of course, you’ll be the first to know when they succeed.
Monday’s jam under the canopy was taken over by the live coders, while Tuesday saw the return of the synth (and apparently feedback loops) enthusiasts. Sophia and Laurent did the visuals with a digital-analogue setup, while Manu and Tina played with synths and no input mixers. Their rich textures swayed participants into the night…
In PIFtopia, the work week doesn’t really start until Monday (not unlike other parts of the world). Participants mostly spent it planning, exploring and getting to know their surroundings. After breakfast, a group of PIFparticipants joined Ewen for a walk and the launch (or rather: lifting) of his solar balloon. Other PIFlars spent the morning getting attuned and exploring the PIFcamp’s surroundings, but after lunch (and coffee!), the grounds slowly started to resemble a real work site.
In the afternoon, a group of performers and organizers of the PIFconcert and Algorave at the Fort Kluže set off for a visit to the venue, while wild food enthusiasts went for a walk with our neighbour Neža to Lamovje, where they explored the edible plants and mushrooms growing in the area. We will report on the foraging expedition and other food-related activities in a special PIFood feature. In the meantime, the base camp hosted some workshops. At 4:20, Maggie Kane organized a PIFjournaling workshop under the canopy, and Nejc Trampuž gathered a group of curious PIFparticipants under the tent for an intro presentation on creating animations with AI.
Preparations are also well underway for the projects in the Immersive Sound Dome. Lan Wu is one of the participants who will be presenting his work in the dome, a sound piece featuring field recordings. In the afternoon, he invited the field recording enthusiasts for a test walk and preliminary recordings of the sounds around Soča river.
Monday ended with a bonfire, live coding and lasers projected onto a nearby tree by Hansi and Jerobeam (aka Oscilloscope Music). Despite copious amounts of coffee and clubbing beverages, your reporter is a bit slowed down due to low air pressure, but you can expect a more comprehensive report on the PIFprojects tomorrow.
If you are wandering around Bovec and its surroundings on Wednesday 2 August, make sure to visit Fort Kluže in the evening. PIFparticipants will pull out their synthesizers, oscilloscopes, projectors and laptops for an evening of lasers, beeping and lightning between 9pm and 11pm.
(づ ◕‿◕ )づ Rob Canning & Robbie Hopper (+ Julia Múgica)
(づ ◕‿◕ )づ Oscilloscope Music AV
(づ ◕‿◕ )づ Laurent Malys AV
In case of thunderstorms the event will be cancelled.