Tag: Camp Pixelache

A “Collective Cake” and Local Food – Artist and Cultural Producer Milanda Sipos

A “Collective Cake” and Local Food – Artist and Cultural Producer Milanda Sipos

At Camp Pixelache, the festival/unconference event that I attended last month in Helsinki, Finland, I got a chance to talk to Melinda Sipos, who was an artist in residence in the Pixelache Micro-Residency program. Melinda is from Budapest, Hungary, and has recently been doing projects about food and sustainability.

The group Pixelache turned 10 this year – and at the event there was to be a celebration of the group turning 10 years old.  Milanda organized the creation of a “collective cake.”  For this – participants were encouraged to bring a local ingredient from our home country.  These ingredients were going to be used to create a cake.

It turned out that there were so many ingredients – that Melinda had to create a cake that was kind of like ladyfingers – and then she setup a buffet of all of the ingredients that people brought.  I brought local honey from Ohio.  There was chocolate, chocolate noodles from Germany, jellies from Finland, England, and Estonia, several bottles of alcohol, and some other ingredients.

The other project that Milanda tested out was to test a data-visualization model of the food that was served in the cafeteria on the main Pixelache day at the Arbis center, where the event was held. She developed ideas around catering. She wrote about the project, “Usually catering is considered as a necessary element of an event, but we tend to take it for granted that we are served with food and drinks. This experiment focuses on two main questions: how catering affects the ecological footprint of the whole event (especially traveling) and can we balance this out with a joint effort? In addition the goal is also to raise awareness on what we eat by providing information on the ingredients (their “stories”) and through a special arrangement in the restaurant space.”

At the event – there was an amazing carrot soup, a mushroom soup, a pasta dish with fish, and another dish that Milanda worked with the cook at the cafeteria to source out local ingredients, and to keep track of the food miles of all of the food.    I had a gluten-free version of the soup – and it was amazing.

At 4 pm – it was time for the 10 year anniversary cake.  The cake and the ingredients were put out on a table.  Everyone took some cake, and then added ingredients to the cake a la carte.  I tested 3 kinds of honeys, had some great jam, also some chocolate.  It was a nice moment of the conference – with everyone talking, eating, and gathering around the food table.

Milanda told me about some of her work at Kitchen Budapest  – a center of art and technology, and also about her new project called Based on Pig which explores food and culture.  Based on the Pig is a project that has the goal to discover the Hungarian Kitchen, especially the  eating habits of the contemporary Budapest people using artistic research methods. She and her collaborators are exploring what stories, traditions, and legends a certain food, ingredient or living creature used in the kitchen has.  Questions they are exploring include, “What information is available online about food, and what do we face in the market?” The project aims to map the cultural framework of our food-related decisions and also to do some kitchen experiments.  They kicked off the project with the ingredient of pigs.  They plan to go after many other animals and vegetables with the project.

To learn more about her work, check out  a video interview with Milanda on Vimeo that Pixelache recently posted. You also can read about the project Pig, and learn more about some Hungarian food at www.baedonpig.com/en/.



Milanda Sipos @ Camp Pixelache Interview – on Vimeo




Ever been to an “unconference?”   Camp Pixelache, which I attended a couple of weeks ago in Helsinki, Finand  was organized in a unconference style.  I had never been to an unconference, but I quickly learned  at the opening session where an overview of an unconference was given.

Unconferences came about because people felt that a formal conference that usually has longer scheduled sessions are good, but the ad hoc conversations in between the sessions were really interesting and great.  The question arose, how can we make more of this?

The answer was to have an unconference, where a event with sessions is organized first on a wiki site with proposals, and then the schedule is setup the day of the event with the particapants in attendance.  There is a large open grid that is setup – and you post wher and when and with who you will present.  The schedule is made or broken by everyone at the unconference.  Sessions are organized by participants.

There is only one rule to obey which is called the “Law of Two Feet.”  Basically – if you are not in a space where you are learning or contributing – you use your feet and go somewhere else.

The day was to be considered a “gift economy,” where you are giving and taking with others at the unconference.   There were many sessions scheduled at the same time – and we were encouraged to remember that “what ever happens is supposed to happen.”  The sessions were also broken up with several keynotes – which were speakers that were invited and scheduled to give longer presentations.

Unconferences  come out of the open source community.   The format and methods used are said to have been  developed by Harrison Owen in the1980’s.  His book published in 1993, Open Space Technology: a User’s Guide discussed many of the techniques now associated with unconference.  Typically at an unconference, the agenda is created by the attendees at the beginning of the meeting. Anyone who wants to initiate a discussion on a topic can claim a time and a space. Unconferences typically feature open discussions rather than having a single speaker at the front of the room giving a talk, although any format is permitted.

BloggerCon, Foo Camp and BarCamp  are all events that helped to popularize the term “unconference”

After going to my first unconference, – I can’t wait to attend another.  I also am thinking about organizing one here in Cleveland – around creative ideas, technology, and social change.



The Unconference Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Camp Pixelache 2012


Utopian Reality –  Art and Research @ Camp Pixelache

Utopian Reality – Art and Research @ Camp Pixelache

One of the opening activites at Camp Pixelache was led by two members of the Utopian Reality research project, a project based out of Helsinki, Finalnd.  For the exercise – everyone was asked to stand up and head to the front of the room.  We were then asked to look at other people and make eye contact and smile – and then head to the person that is the farthest away from you.  Once you reach this person  (or another person across the room who you headed towards), we were then asked to stand next to each other   We were then to ask each other a question that we had always wanted to know the answer to – and for the other person to answer it. I ended up talking to a woman from Spain who asked me, “Is there hope?”  I answered this to the best of my ability – then asked her my question which was about why daylight savings time exists and why we change the clocks back and forth.

We next had to find another person across the room – and then ask this person the question you were just asked.  The result of this activity – was that we had become a group, and I had met a couple of people.  This is an example of an activity of the Utopian Reality.

The Utopian Reality project is a research project that explores ways to change the world through a variety of methods and techniques of applying artistic methods outside the field of art.  The goal of the project is to promote and enable change both in people’s private lives and in the society at large.

I attended the presentation of the team behind the project, and they gave us another exercise to do.  We were asked to break up into groups of 3-6 people.  We were then to go find another place in the building – and think about how a conference activity could be done in this space – but in a very different way.

The presenters reviewed what they called “a score.”  The way they described  the directions that they gave us on their blog is, “We created a score where the participants would divide into four Tactical Utopia Units; each unit would have the task of redefining the use of a particular space or setting and redesigning the conventions present in that space. Each person would also choose a specific perspective or focus, which would allow the unit to cover a wider range of possibilities. “

I ended up in a larger group – of about 8 people.  Once person had an idea of a place – so we played follow the leader and ended up behind the main stage of the large conference room, headed up a small staircase- and sat in a small balcony that was backstage and hidden from the audience and presenters in the main room.  We came up with the idea that this could be used as a discovery meeting center or a “present.”  It could be used to have people find this place – then meet once you find it.

We then returned back to the presentation – and each group shared what place they had picked and visited – and how the space could be used.  Once group came up with an interesting idea that the stairway could be used as a communication tool, using spoons.  The idea was that everyone could be given a spoon upon entering the building, and you could communicate with others by banging on the handrail of the stairs.  Another group picked floor 2.5 – or the landing between the two floor of 1 and 2.  They found that people going up and down the stairs would talk to them – and that this was a great and surprising way to meet others.

At the end of the talk, I talked to the Utopian Reality team, and told them that I was interested in using these exercises in my classes in Fall.  They talked about how using “art thinking” outside of art can have great potential.  We talked about the exercise of thinking, “ How could this object be art?” can lead to lots of ideas.  The example we did was to look at a bulletin board that had tacks on it – and think of how would this be art?

Behind the Utopian Reality team is the Reality Research Center (RRC), which is a performing arts collective based in Helsinki, Finland. Their works stem from critical perspectives that observe, question and renew our surrounding reality through performative means.   They see performances as both a tool for and a result of artistic research. RRC produces several performance projects each year, which are situated in all kinds of spaces and situations, often excluding conventional performance spaces and theaters.

During the coming months, Utopian Reality will be developed and tested in the Utopia Laboratory. If you want to participate in the development process or have an idea to propose, you can contact them at utopia@todellisuus.fi.

If you are in one of my classes next summer – get ready to observe your own life and surroundings from a utopian point of view: What kind of possibilities are embedded in it? How could it be changed?


Utopian Reality Project

The Hexayurt Sauna @ Camp Pixelache

The Hexayurt Sauna @ Camp Pixelache

One of the kick-off activities at Camp Pixelache in Helsinki, Finland was a group activity to build a hexayurt structure that would later in the evening become a sauna.

A hexayurt is a 6 sided structure that can be built out of any materials including plywood, has little waste in its construction.

To make the simplest hexayurt, you make a wall by putting six sheets of plywood on their sides in a hexagon. Nex, cut six more sheets in half diagonally, and screw them together into a shallow cone.   Finally, you lift the roof on to the wall with a large group of people, then fasten it down with more screws.   You can seal and paint it for durability – and the hexyurt is done.

For the sauna design, Justin Tyler Tate and Ernest Truly were commissioned to build a mobile stove (kiuas in Finnish) for the Hexayurt Sauna.  They built the stove in a shopping cart,  and created a chimney from  a long box like metal piece that came from a local factory.  The outside of the hexayurt was a local material, also from a local factory.  The stove design was made by putting ghte chimney structure in the center of the cart, and then putting rocks around this.  The fire was made in the chimney, which then lit up the rocks.

It was rainy when the stove was lit, but we all stood around getting warm near the stove, and also took turns checking out the hexayurt structure.  I did not wait for the stove to make it into the hexayurt  since my feet were wet, but I heard the rocks did get warm – and people stayed up til 3 am in the sauna hexayurt structure.

The hexayurt shelter is meant to be an easy to build shelter, and is inspired by the Buckydome geodesic dome structure.  The designs of the hexayurt are online and are open source.  Since the design was put on the web 10 years ago, there are now more variations on the designs, one of which has expanded headroom and a full-height doorway.

The hexyurt design has no copyright or patent, and anyone can build it for free.  It is meant to enable areas to create shelter, and in a crisis these could be made quickly and efficiently when shelter is needed.

A Hexayurt has been built in Haiti, were used at Occupy in Pittsburgh, and many hexayurt structures popped up at Burning Man this year (over 500!)

They goal is to get hexayurts all over the world – and I plan to see if we can build one where I work – maybe to use as another classroom, mediation room, clubhouse, or a sauna?



Video about the Mobile Stove for the hexayurt at Camp Pixelache

Vinay Gupta at Camp Pixelache:  Tools and Language

Vinay Gupta at Camp Pixelache: Tools and Language

As the opening lines of Do-Re-Mi from Sound of Music go, “Let’s start at the very beginning…”   I have many things to write about from my experience at Camp Pixelache in Helsinki last weekend – and I am going to start at the beginning.

The beginning of the festival started with a keynote talk by Vinay Gupta, who is one of the world’s leading thinkers on infrastructure theory and managing geopoltical risk.  He is an environmentalist and a sustainability activist. He developed the Hexayurt, the free/open source emergency shelter and recently published the book The Future We Deserve.

His talk was called Tools and Language – Why government can’t manage the 21st century, but we can.  In his talk he talked about the shifting balance of power between the State and Corporations, which is a huge part of the problems our democracies face in responding to issues like climate change.

He started the talk by talking about some lessons that he had learned, and by sharing some of the tools and projects he has developed that address issues of future survival and climate change.

He talked about the hexayurt structure, which is a six sided structure that can be built for cheap, is made out of plywood or similar materials, and  can cost less than a relief. It can be built anywhere in the world at any scale, and is an open source design.  The hexayurt started when someone asked Gupta if he could build a 6 sided structure based on the BuckyDome ( a geodesic dome) structure.  He worked on this – and came up with the first hexayurt structure.  He shared it with a few friends, and each year since then there have been more and more people building these structures.  It took 10 years for the hexyurt to be used on a larger scale.

Vinay used this as a way to demonstrate the lesson that “change is slow” and “lasting change chages people.”  He also talked about passive cooperation, and that the hexayurt structure was passed on from person to person, and the documentation and free licenses made it easy for people to use and access.

Vinay also shared a model he developed to support crisis management called Six Ways to Die. (6WTD.)  This model helps explain what needs to get done in a crisis.  Basically the six ways to die are:  Too hot, too cold, thirst, hunger, illness, and inury.  If you map out estiamtes of the thtreat in each area and any spystems or behaviors that need to be added to the situation to keep people safe, you can plan for emergencies.  He also talked about the crisis in Haiti, and how when you have different type of organizations trying to work together – it can be a “goat rodeo” or a mess – since the groups have different methods to get to the same goal of helping those in need in a crisis.

One last lesson that Gupta talked about that I found interesting was that having a controlled vocabulary and precise language is important.  Our language affects our thinking – and it is important to have a shared understood vocabulary.  Gupta talked about how the Occupy movement at first did not have this – and it was a bit of a mess when Occupiers would be on the news interviewed, etc.  Currently, Occupy is working on making a controlled vocabulary.  This vocabulary maps and shapes our thinking. And Gupta refered to the Whorf theory – which is the linguistic principle that the structure of  a language affects how we are able to concpetualize the world.

Gupta’s ideas are easy to access.  He has a blog, a wiki website, and many of his lectures and talks are on his sites.

They also taped and posted his lecture on Vimeo.  I recommend watching this –there is a part 1 and part 2 – and check out his lecture at http://vimeo.com/pixelache.



Vinay Gupta Talk at Pixelache – Vimeo Video Part 1 and  Vimeo Video Part 2


6 Ways to Die