Nature concert, potato synthesizer, drunk robot… What are the PIFcampers making? (1/2)
Published 8 August 2022 by Elsa Ferreira
What are 65 hackers, makers, artists, musicians and other techno-explorers doing in the middle of the Slovenian Alps?
In order to understand PIFcamp, we need to meet the PIFcampers. This annual summer camp nestled in the mountains of Slovenia held its 8th edition from July 31 to August 6 in joyful anarchy. Following just a few rules in good practice to ease the flow, the participants themselves made up the program of workshops, solo or collaborative projects, shows and jam sessions. Makery met most of them one by one: Who’s-who, part 1.
Alicia Champlin: meditative brainwaves
An American based in Barcelona, with a degree in fine arts, Alicia specializes in cybernetic communication. “I use sound installations to model interpersonal communication, in performances where the body becomes a part of the system,” she explains. For her debut at PIFcamp, she is presenting two projects. First, the “bow chime” or “steel cello”, her homemade musical instrument made of cymbals and steel, with which she offers PIFcampers a meditative and regenerative “cymbal bath”. Second, an EEG that records and livestreams brainwaves, while converting them into sound through a giant 8-speaker installation. She hopes to link the two artworks, so that her steel cello can play soundwaves, for the ultimate meditation!
Becca Rose: potato power
“Almost everyone has a potato story,” says Becca. Indeed, her potato-themed workshop brings out the anecdotes, from failed experiments in cultivating the tubers to the potato’s fiendish reputation of the “devil’s apple”. Becca tells us that there exists an entire genre of “potato art” – with works exhibited at the Tate museum and of which Agnès Varda was a proud representative – as well as a sub-genre of potato computer art.
Another first-time PIFcamper, Becca infuses other projects with her potato touch: a synthesizer, speakers, a social media filter, and she’s working on a robot. It’s her own playful way of appropriating the techniques without seeking to innovate: “Capitalism is at the root of this need for growth at all cost. These mediums don’t need to come from technology,” she says. Who said potato stories weren’t serious?
Scott “Seamus” Kildall: nature’s complaint
It’s plain to see: the waters are running very low. For his second year at PIFcamp, Scott Kildall, or Seamus, decided to convert this dryness into music. “I come from California, I’m familiar with this dryness,” he says. All week, he is perfecting his homemade sensors and attaching them to trees, lichen, plants and waterways in order to produce a natural and synesthetic concert. “It will be glitchy,” he warns. “I want to create a reflection of this devastation, this nature in distress.”
Luka Frelih: active pillar
Luka Frelih, programmer and artist, member of Ljudmila art laboratory since it was created in 1994, is one of the founders of PIFcamp. But each year, like everyone else, he works on a project. This year, he’s developing a ball equipped with a motion sensor to enrich his practice of live coding, which is in the spotlight at PIFcamp 2022. (Luka is also one of the organizers behind Algopolis, an algorave in Ljubljana.) His controller uses a Bluetooth signal converted into a midi signal to transmit data to any audio or visual software. “I love getting to know people in this kind of place with a group of people who share the same interests,” he says. “Not just for fun, but also to plant the seeds for future collaborations.”
Boštjan Čadež: drunk robotics
If you’re looking for Boštjan, there’s a good chance he’s behind his 3D printer, endlessly refining his very particular robot. The drunken robot goes through the crowd and, depending on its mood, either salutes you or urinates on you. “I wanted to counterpoint all the very serious problems that emerge with AI,” he comments. Used to working alone behind his machines, he is happy to be able to spend time with people who understand this kind of art and materials. A last word? “I strongly encourage everyone to consider having a nice day.” We’ll think about it.
Tilen Sepič: social café
Present every year since the first edition of PIFcamp, Tilen tackles group harmony. For this he wields two weapons of mass socialization: a professional sound system converted into a portable device for open-air jam sessions; and the manual reproduction of coffee-maker mechanics (grinding, pressure… all for the optimal cup of coffee). For those looking for a bit of solitude, the artist also installed a hammock under the bridge that spans the river.
Jani Pirnat: alpine street art
Jani is planning a surprise, so prefers to remain discreet. As an artist and curator at the Domestic Research Society in Ljubljana, Jani is a PIFcamp regular. Over the years, he has developed guided tours of the area, conceived seismic tables on which to build jenga-like infrastructures, and created a disco ball concrete mixer. This year, he has prepared a sculpture commemorating the resistance of Tolmin peasants to be placed in the public space. Street art activism, made in Soča.
Niklas Reppel, Roger Pibernat and Lina Bautista: Barcelona delegation for live coding and programmable instrument
Perched in the remote mountains of Slovenia, PIFcamp remains no less international. This year, Barcelona is particularly well represented by On the Fly – a European program to promote live coding. Niklas Reppel, a Barcelona-based German artist, develops musical software. At PIFcamp, he is integrating natural sounds into his practice of creative coding. Roger Pibernat is continuing at PIFcamp what he started in Ljubljana during his residency at Ljudmila: developing his own live coding language (Ziva), based on SuperCollider with simplified syntax. Lina Bautista, a Barcelona-based Colombian artist, is refining Fantasia, a programmable musical instrument in a kit that was developed with the Familiar collective. PIFcamp jam sessions will never be the same again.
Klemen Košir: the chef
He’s one of the most essential people at PIFcamp: the chef. Every day, three times a day, and for the past three years, Klemen has been cooking up delicious meals for 60+ PIFcampers with demanding diets. Klemen is also the author of a book on the culture, history and ethnology of food, and a volunteer guide for a long walk through the mountains. A delightful one-man band in more ways than one.
Memory palace, laser show, ghost radio… more PIFcampers and projects in our Who’s-who Part 2
Read our article on PIFcamp 2022
More on PIFcamp
PIFcamp is part of the Feral Labs network and the cooperative project Rewilding Cultures co-funded by the Europe Creative programme of the European Union.