Hiking Hack Valldaura

Published: April 2018

April 30th – May 4th 2018 at the Iaac Master in Advanced Interaction in Barcelona/Spain

Wearable Studios for Digital Naturalists Workshop at Iaac Valldaura/Barcelona

Andy Quitmeyer and Hannah Perner-Wilson

This 5-day workshop will explore creating individualized, “wearable studios” for digital naturalism. The goal is to create, test, and document mobile laboratory gear for creating interactive electronics in natural areas. Like anyone’s personal creative space, these “wearable studios” (http://www.plusea.at/?category_name=a-wearable-studio-practice) can be highly individualized for your own technological or artistic practice. When building in nature, however, the studios should also adapt and utilize characteristics of the local environment. In this workshop, participants will go through series of exercises exploring environmental and technological features to build their own wilderness laboratories. We will document and share the unique studios and tools created through this process to provide resources and inspiration for other digital naturalists investigating similar challenges.

Flickr set >> https://www.flickr.com/photos/plusea/sets/72157690423744460

Hiking Hack Valldaura

Andy and Hannah making stuff in their JungleLab in Madagascar.

The students taking this course have spent the last weeks/months exploring and developing extra senses. packing tools in your pockets or Strapping them to your body, means you have them at hand outside their regular realm of use. consider the presence of these capabilities provided to you by your tools and extra senses, extra powers with which you can investigate and manipulate your environment. the jungle becomes a different place when you have the power to cut down the plants that obscure your path. or with a needle and thread, every sewable material can be turned into something you want.

Mushroom circuitboard.

Workshop Schedule

Day 1: intro, explore, experiance, discuss
Day 2: reflect, design
Day 3: prototype, iterate
Day 4: test, document
Day 5: present

Day 1: Monday, April 30th – Exploration

We will pack up our daypacks with materials and tools that students think they will need to re-make a physical computing projects which they have previously built inside the studio/lab/workshop, outdoors in the wild. In doing so they will experiance the challenges and inspirations that come from being out in nature without the comforts and infrastructure we are used to. No power, no lasercutters, no flat work surfaces, no chairs, no lighting, no component draws, nobody’s scissors to borrow nor pens and paper in abundance – BUT! trees full of leaves that can be used as speaker membranes, mushroom circuitboards, bark writing surfaces, trees to tie tables to… we will become resourceful and creative.

Introduction to Wearable Studios and Digital Naturalism

Andy and Hannah will introduce the workshop contents either on the bus-ride on once at Valldaura. We will explain the motivation for the workshop and mentions some of the previous work we’ve both done, but mostly we want to get straight out into the wild for the students to experience building in the wild themsevles.

Introduce some (digital) Naturalist tools

Behavioral assays
White cloth and shake tree

Wild Tech Exploration Exercises

“Become the tool you wish to be”
Assemble pegboard pincushion bracelets in order to introduce pegboard sewing technique and first experiance of having a tool with you at all times – a pin.

Anatomy of a Pin - cropped

Pegboard pin bracelets

Leather Pegboard Pincushion Bracelet for Mariam

Constant Continous Collection
Along the way, as we are walking through the wild, collect materials that you could use to make a circuitboard with. Harvesting pouches, bags.

Made from collected materials: Leaf speaker, vine and conductive yarn pressure sensor.

Exploration Exercise: Transect
Stake out a random 1sqm area of land and spend 1 hour with it.
30 min observing, documenting
30 min building something with only what you can find there

Documentation: be creative in how you document what you see.

Exploration Exercise: “Become the tool you want to be”
merge with you tool. tools are senses. select one of the tools that you use often and think of how and where you could strap/attach this to your body. try working with it this way. can you master this new situation?

Exploration Exercise: Behavioural Assay
Think of yourself as a complex body of sensors and actuators that you can reprogram to behave differently in an attempt to explore you own interactions with the world. Think of something strange (out of the ordinary) to do in order to experiment with your environment. Alter your behaviour in order to explore your environment from a different perspective. For example:
– every time you see something red you pause for 10 seconds and observe all that you can see. – everytime you hear a certain sound you copy it.

Exploration Exercise: Observe Each-other
throughout all these exercises take a moment to observe each other. take photographs, sketches, notes of what you see. the ways your bodies work in nature when making in nature.

Exploration Exercise: Observe an Insect
find an insect and try to observe it for 10 minutes. feel free to touch it, displace it, build contraptions to test it’s reactions. document all that you see! Ask yourself: what senses do animal have?

Wild Tech Challenge: Remake your studio project in the wild

Participants need to bring all components needed to re-create an interactive project they already built earlier with you all (perhaps the sensory devices).

Dinner Discussions

we come back together (perhaps over dinner) to discuss how participants worked, what they observed, unique characteristics of the environments, and what types of tools
(no words, just acting out)

Night-Time Exercise

That night at midnight, participants return to the spot they worked in earlier that day and observe differences in the environments, the creatures nearby

Night time collecting: glow-worm on palm of hand.

Day 2: Tuesday, May 1st – Design

After experiencing the reality of trying to build technology in the wild, students will sketch out ideas for their very own wearable studios. The goal being that these studio are wearable/portable to enable us to build wild technology in the wild. Students don’t have to focus on designing an all encompassing studio space, we encourage them to focus on a select tool-set or technique that they would like to build for. Directions could be:
a bag that unfolds into a table
a soldering iron elbow
a wearable sensor for detecting cutable materials

Design Directions:
Wearable Tools

JungleLab: the table for working at.

Andy's PIFpack SERIOUS
Andy’s PIFpack strapped to a tree.

Practical Techniques for Embodied studios

Hannah and Andy do a mini workshop on ways to attach tools to your body


Participants begin creating prototypes of their devices

Storage elements: Thread rack made from vine.

Dinner Discussions

Day 3: Wednesday, May 2nd – Prototyping

Participants go on short excursions to test their wearable studios, examine what works, and what can be changed. They then iterate on these designs.
We will assign participants short tasks to complete with the studios they developed (perhaps with regard to some of the interactive technology they have already been working on).

Short Excursions for Testing
back and forth between field and making
test prototypes

Day 4: Thursday, May 3rd – Using, Documentation

Day Trip: venture out on longer trip to test prototypes
Participants venture out with their wearable studio for a longer trip.
(Documentation) During this time participants are tasked with creating final documentation of their projects.

Document prototypes in use
Be creative in thinking of unique ways to capture, document and share your design.
Documentation should include both practical aspects and emotionally engaging aspects

There are many ways to potentially document your project:
– How-To article
– Poem
– Music Video
– Comic Book
– video game


Step-by-step tutorial:
>> http://www.instructables.com/id/PIFpack-SERIOUS/

Hannah’s visual poem about her Wearable Studio:

Day 5: Friday, May 4th (15:00) – Presentations

Final presentations of the projects.