Warm greetings from FoAM. As our cities begin emptying out for the imminent summer holidays, it is time for a seasonal update about our activities at FoAM in Brussels, Amsterdam, Stockholm & Helsinki. Aside from news on FoAM’s favourite topics - plants, food & technology, we’d like to spread the word about two new European projects (Resilients & PARN), proclaim Boskoi’s recent acclaim, report on a few playful events and several quietly germinating activities.
We are happy to announce that we have embarked on two new projects in June - Resilients and PARN, partially funded by the European Commission. Resilients is about increasing cultural resilience and PARN involves physical and alternate reality narratives. The two projects will allow us to explore speculative culture from different perspectives. While Resilients deals with the down-to-earth questions of preparing for & adapting to uncertain futures, in PARN we explore alternate reality narratives in which we can invoke possible futures of our choice: where culture and nature are intertwingled limbs of a thriving planetary eco-system. Both projects are developed with the support of the Culture Programme (2007 - 2013) of the European Union and the Flemish Authorities.
Following the Resilients’ mission to work on speculative cultures for possible futures, FoAM has a range of activities planned for the summer. In June we welcomed the Simpsons family (Mark, Lea, Scarlet & Delilah) as our second Family in Residence (http://fo.am/simpsons ). While the parents speculate on resilient archives and rocket boats, we are jointly minding the children & further blurring the boundaries between work & life. In addition to FoAM’s ongoing coaching programme (http://fo.am/coaching ), in July we turn inwards and practice being silent together in a Naikan retreat at FoAM in Brussels (http://fo.am/naikan ) to investigate the impact of personal introspection on the resilience of FoAM as a collective.
At the end of July we open our doors again with the Mathematickal Arts workshop. The workshop leaders, Tim Boykett & Carole Collet will tie together the abstract mathematics of knots with the tactility of knotting textiles and versatility of computer programming (http://fo.am/mathematickal_arts ). As summer comes to a close, we we will investigate the resilience of European guilds (crafts and otherwise) together with Dougald Hine, the first official Journeyer of the Guild of Resilients (http://dougald.co.uk/ ). Taking the long view, Trey Darley will guide us into stretching the present moment across 10,000 years at the regular Long Now meetups (http://www.meetup.com/longnowbrussels/ ).
Resilients (http://fo.am/resilients ) is coordinated by FoAM, in collaboration with Central Saint Martins’ Textile Futures (UK), nadine (BE), Performing Pictures (SE), Projekt Atol (SI) and Time’s Up (AT).
Summer is a time for lightness - of clothing, food & play. We welcomed the summer solstice at a small but charming Seppe airport in the south of the Netherlands. At ‘Utopian Airlines’ a festival on aviation and lightweight structures, visitors were invited by a team of air-hostesses for a turbulent experience in a giant wind-tunnel designed by Cocky Eek. From air to water, guided by the Rocket Car Day founder Mark Simpson (http://rcd12.rocketcarday.com/ ), we built small boats from found materials, powering them with rocket motors & racing them on the Brussels canal with often amusing results (http://vimeo.com/25966793 )
Boskoi receives honorary mention at Prix Ars Electronica
Boskoi is a free, open source foraging app for Android phones from FoAM in Amsterdam, as part of project groWorld (http://fo.am/groworld). The project received an honorary mention in the category of digital cultures at Prix Ars Electronica. It was picked up by several blogs and magazines, such as the ND magazine in The Netherlands. We are hard at work on the next version which should be out this summer.
August in Brussels is a quiet month, perfect for constructing the skeleton of Borrowed Scenery, an alternate reality narrative on human-plant interactions. We’d like to engage urbanites of all ages in an immersive story where nature and culture interact. Why create a fictional nature when we have a real, verdant landscapes & gardens already out there? Simply because a story tickles our imagination in a different way than a tutorial on permaculture. It reminds us of the magic of life that we so often take for granted. A story that unfolds in the physical spaces of our cities encourages us to re-discover greenness & freshness in our daily lives. Inspired by plants, we will begin our work ‘underground’ with some quiet research, with plans to emerge in autumn, with a tutorial on ARGs by Adrian Hon, divination techniques by Martin Howse and a few other arcane occurrences.
FoAM is working with Timelab (http://timelab.org/ ) on this year’s Artbots “Robot Talent Show” which will take place on the 7th to the 9th of October in Gent. Artbots is a part of the LIREC project which looks at long term relations between humans and robots. Creators of talented robots are invited to submit their work for possible inclusion in the show and can find the call for participation here: http://artbots.org/2011/
Following on from it’s first public exposure at Pixelache in March, the permaculture game and Lirec technology demonstrator “germination x” is being developed to explore connections between companion planting and social games. For more information and calls for beta testers, check here: http://www.pawfal.org/dave/blog/category/lirec/
Immanentia, an interactive application, story and artwork by FoAM and Performing Pictures, was premiered in January 2011 at the Palm Top Theatre exhibition of the Rotterdam Film Festival. In the spring, Immanentia travelled with V2 to the European Media Art Festival in Osnabrueck, Germany and is currently shown at “Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities exhibition” in MAD in New York, USA. In Immanentia, the viewers are drawn into a world of Lina Kusaite’s patabotanical drawings of phantasmagoric trees and plants. The drawings describe a place for day-dreams of a little girl, found at the doorstep of the children's house in Rose Cottage Home in Dickleburgh around 1890. The artwork is created for a i3DG, an interface for iPhones/Pods/Pads, able to turn 2D imagery into 3D - creating a minuscule theatre-stage in the palm of your hand. i3DG is created and designed by Jitsuo Mase.
On the 28th of May 2011 FoAM in Amsterdam hosted a series of workshops to design a new public park. Neighbours joined forces with experts to turn a vast forgotten backyard into a multifunctional public space. 2012 Architects hosted a session on sourcing and recycling local materials, Fransje de Waard focused on turning the garden into a social and financial value for the neighborhood, fruit farmer Dirk van Berge looked at the opportunities and limiting factors of an urban-orchard, Copijn garden architects worked on visual design and urban ecologist Martin Melchers kept an eye out for the potential uses of the space for non-human city dwellers. The results of the workshops will be bundled in a booklet. The wider public was informed about the activities of the Pop-up Park through the Dutch newspapers - a half-spread in het Parool and an article in Echo.
A similar activity in Brussels, aiming to revitalise the area around Maelbeek is MAP-it European Quarter (http://bit.ly/ma1Z2K). FoAM is involved in brainstorming sessions and may participate further in the coming months.
On the 8th of May 2011, two teams of foragers set-out from Station Sloterdijk in Amsterdam to investigate the local edible landscape. Each team consisted of a time-keeper, a plant-spotter, a geographer and foragers. Based on the algorithmic instructions provided by Wilfried Houjebek, inspired by the foraging behaviour of Pac-man Ghosts, and carrying caloric field-guides for foragers provided by FoAM, the teams went on separate 75 min expeditions to map the caloric landscape of the area.
This summer Angelo Vermeulen and Shelbatra Jashari are working on the first film for the ‘Corrupted C#n#m#’ project at FoAM Brussels. ‘Corrupted C#n#m#’ explores the physicality of digital media, and revolves around disrupted video generated through biological interaction. The project was kick-started in 2009 at FoAM during a 3-week residency, and underwent several evolutions since then. Last year the so-called ‘Entomograph’ was developed in collaboration with silversmith Walter Bresseleers. The system consists of silver armor for giant Madagascan hissing cockroaches that can disrupt video data through electromagnetic induction. The film that is currently being made, utilizes both the resulting disrupted video and footage of the cockroaches doing their corrupting work. Cinematography is taken care of by Hans Bruch Jr. The film is scheduled to premiere in Amsterdam at the Brakke Grond during IDFA in November 2011.
As part of ‘Makerlab Finland’, curated by Pixelache, FoAM member Bartaku’s TpED #6 was held at the DMY Design Festival Berlin on the 2nd & 3rd of June 2011. The TpED worklabs are co-creation-based experiments with the transformation of light energy into electric energy, fusing culinary and photovoltaic technology and design. TpED #7 will be at Halikonlahti Art Festival in Salo (Finland) in September and October 2011, as part of PhoEf (http://libarynth.org/luminous/phoef ). Here’s Bartaku’s interview from Berlin in ‘We Make Money Not Art” http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/2011/06/temporary-photoelectric-digest.php http://www.flickr.com/photos/phoef/sets/72157625533367951/
FoAM Nordica is powering along with the Foodprints project. The project is now preparing the biologically centered design toolkit which will aid designers and decision makers in promoting urban agriculture as an integral part of the urban planning process. The third and last phase should begin in autumn, working towards a tasty set of recipes designed as 5 future scenarios for the upcoming eco-city (Norra-Djugarden) in the north-east of Stockholm. Anna Maria Orru, the project leader of Foodprints was recently interviewed by the Swedish Radio P1-Klotet on window farming and R&DIY in line with a current exhibition on window farming at the Kulturhuset in the centre of Stockholm (http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=3345&artikel=4544728 ).
On the 12th of April, FoAM Brussels and FoAM Nordica, together with students from the Landscape architecture department at Alnarp, the Swedish university of agricultural sciences, joined for a session to investigate the different creative methodologies for strengthening our relationship with what we eat, and how we grow food in the cities. Through hands-on suggestions and creative alternatives, we explored the various ways food arrives on our plates daily. Our goal was to make the concept accessible, desirable, fun, educational, and able to be transplanted in different neighbourhoods. The workshop leaders - Anna Maria Orru and Johan Zetterquist (FoAM Nordica) along with Lina Kusaite (FoAM Brussels) encouraged the participants to investigate the most pressing challenges, while not forgetting to dream about imaginative ways in which we could feed our cities in the future.
At the FOOD II workshop at the Valand Academy of Art FoAM Nordica works with artists exploring food as a medium to express their ecological concerns. We touch upon subjects of food production, meat consumption, seed exploitation, and other topics related to how we feed ourselves now and in the future. The challenge is to express these issues as a design of recipes which embrace our guests in the experience.
During the surprisingly warm and sunny Belgian spring, we worked on cultivating some young shoots - both human and vegetal - by introducing the associations of taste and hearing to school children in Laeken. The Sound and Taste workshop was organized by Filemon at the youth center “A place to live” and guided by Bram (Aifoon) and Rasa (FoAM) The children created visual expressions of a variety of edible ingredients and sounds from their surroundings. They correlated tastes and sounds in order to create an imaginary edible neighbourhood.
Food & cooking for children may become more prominent at FoAM in Brussels. In collaboration with MUS-E (http://www.mus-e.be/), we are planning to explore children’s views on ‘art in the kitchen’.
FoAM was invited by the historian and witchcraft generalist Paola Orlic to inspire a new generation of Croatian herbalists, foodies & families. On the eve of Mayday, we served an urban picnic at the Galerija Makina in Pula, Croatia. While talking about FoAM’s Open Sauces, we blended tastes of FoAM-food with local flavours. The picnic dishes were designed in collaboration with Istrian experts and enthusiasts including master chef David Skoko & his team from Batelina specialising in sustainable fish cuisine, as well as the families Miskovic-Jovanovic & Kuzmanovic who turned Istrian wild plants into experimental delights. We brought along examples of foods from FoAM’s network, such as Maki Ueda’s leak soup perfume, Kate Rich’s mixed feral trade shipment, Lina Kusaite’s wild garlic pesto. The presentation caught the interest of the local press, making the front cover of the Zoom magazine, with two page articles in Glas Istre & Novi List.
New York, 20110607 - 20110918 Immanentia 03: Installation by FoAM & Performing Pictures. http://fo.am/Immanentia03
Brussels, 20110723 - 20110725 Splinter Fields: Mathematickal Arts Workshop. http://fo.am/mathematickal_arts
Stockholm, 20110707 - 20110708 FOOD II. http://www.foodtwo.blogspot.com
Finally, aside from well-formulated projects, there are several things on the boil at FoAM.
In the last months, the turbulence in our circles near and far seems to have intensified. Tsunamis, funding cuts, interpersonal, social and political upheavals. We understand that the resilience of an organisation must involve interdependence with local, trans-local and global networks. Therefore, building strong, long term relationships with like-minded people from a variety of sectors becomes a more important part of our work in the coming months and years. While being aware of the importance of these relationships, we are also looking inwards, to the resilience of collaborative structures within FoAM. Since the beginning of 2010 we began with a careful examination of FoAM’s economic, environmental, cultural and social sustainablity. The FoAM network itself has become an experiment in ‘thrivability’ - we’re questioning our principles, re-assigning roles, building in redundancies, diversifying financing, clarifying relationships and fine-tuning our methods of operation. We are exploring adaptive models of working and living, attuned to the sensibilities of our times, as well as our needs as individuals and collectives. This process involves a re-thinking, re-shaping and re-working that should enable FoAM to thrive in the uncertain environments we find ourselves in.
To end on a lighter note - if you are curious about any of the above, or if you’d like to meet some of us in an informal setting, we invite you to join our weekly Apero, every Friday at FoAM in Brussels (drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can reserve a glass for you).
Activities of FoAM Brussels are supported by the Flemish Authorities and the European Commission (FP7 and Culture Programme), FoAM Amsterdam by Prins Bernard Cultuur Fonds and FoAM Nordica by Innovativ Kultur, City of Stockholm.