Dear collaborators, colleagues and friends, along with the full bloom of spring we are pleased to bring you the latest seasonal newsletter from FoAM. This time round we have a lot of wrapping up to report - and much that is soon to be unwrapped. We celebrated the conclusion of two projects, Resilients and PARN, in grand style - and with even grander archiving schemes for posterity – with publications, spin-offs and exquisite memorabilia. While some of us were tying up loose ends, others kept spinning new ones. We're excited that our new project Future Fabulators has the green light with EC funding. An experimental round of residencies and transiencies has commenced at FoAM Brussels, preparations are underway for the next series of Splinterfields workshops and Open Sauces experiments, and we continue to find exciting ways to inspire young minds. FoAM Amsterdam saw the opening of De Tuin van Jan, a quiet "paradise garden" in the hectic heart of Amsterdam. And last but definitely not least: FoAM's board member Angelo Vermeulen has left for "Mars" as mission commander in NASA's HI-SEAS. Read on for the full report.
Resilients endeavours have been collected and archived on the Resilients wiki as an evolving publication for anyone wishing to browse past exploits or find inspiration for ongoing resilient practices. We commemorated the end of an era with Hotel Resilients, where the project was uncannily diffracted behind the doors of several intimate hotel rooms. The Resilients' work in Future Preparedness has also been highlighted in Trendwolves' European Youth Trend Report as a major "youth trend for 2013." As a memento of the manifold travels of the Resilients, we printed a series of postcards featuring Strangehalos beautiful graphic art, which you can pick up from the Brussels studio.
The festive closure of PARN also coincided with the ten-year anniversary of a very fulfilling collaboration with Time's Up. Notational Resume brought us together at the dockside headquarters of Time's Up on the Danube in Linz one hazy spring evening with miniature versions of Borrowed Scenery, Unattended Luggage and SIBV, not to mention the famous culinary brio of Andy Strauss as the star attraction. Fresh off the editing table of Shelbatra Jashari and Isabelle Nouzha, we screened the Borrowed Scenery short movie, an impressionistic glimpse into patabotanical worlds. The imminent launch of the PARN publication is on the cards, narrating the wide scope of thinking and activity that took place during two years' immersion in physical stories and alternate realities. The print version will be available shortly and also downloadable online - so stay tuned. Meanwhile you can find several of FoAM's articles that appear in the publication on the PARN Libarynth pages. And all is not over: the fun goes on in Future Fabulators, a collaboration starting this September with Time's Up along with M-ITI and AltArt. The project will draw together many of the threads from PARN and Resilients, extending our work in physical narration, context-aware narrative and future pre-enactment to imagine and experience living in a range of possible futures.
PARN's conclusion has given rise to several enduring (digital, printed, conceptual) artefacts and spinoffs. Maja Kuzmanovic gave a talk at the SCANZ 2013 3rd nature symposium in New Zealand, presenting a Borrowed Scenery perspective on human-plant interaction and vegetal culture. The talk was based on the article "GroWorld: Experiments in Vegetal Culture" by Maja and Nik Gaffney, which will appear in the upcoming edition of the Fourth Door Review. Pursuing the more speculative tendrils of Borrowed Scenery, where storytelling becomes a form of divination, Maja and Nik presented "Magick, Mistakes and the Multitude of the Matter" at DesignTalks, part of the fifth DesignMarch festival held in Reykjavik amidst the magical landscapes and communities of Iceland. Researching plant sentience and human-plant communication, Australian artist Cat Jones was recently in residence at FoAM with a florilgeum remix of her Transcontinental Garden Exchange project. Dave Griffiths' work on Zizim, the Borrowed Scenery desktop and mobile app, has been transmuted into a lobster mapping app developed in collaboration with Exeter University, which recently had its first full-dress fieldwork test on the high seas. In collaboration with Rasa Alksnyte, Heath Bunting and An Mertens transformed a series of conversations about arboreal identity held at FoAM last year into several workshops, urban and forest investigations that looked at ways to liberate trees from legal anonymity and facilitate the emergence of their own personhood. In last days before PARN officially ended, FoAM Brussels was a flurry of intensive organising, archiving, arguing, coding and illustrating, culminating in the confabulous Spauiz - a "Patabotanical Mission Dispatch Device" (as it's colloquially known) and online reference to Borrowed Scenery. Spauiz will effectively send you tunnelling through the archives and eventually lead you to recreate and transform any number of the strands of Borrowed Scenery in your very own neighbourhood, forest, garden, or local parallel reality. If you prefer paper interactions, stop by FoAM in Brussels and pick up a few Borrowed Scenery bookmarks or patabotanists' oracle cards.
As always, there's a host of news that falls into no other category but that of "miscellaneous." FoAM board member and long-term collaborator Angelo Vermeulen is space crew commander on another kind of future preparedness mission - HI-SEAS, a NASA-funded study taking place on the Hawaiian island of Mauna Loa investigating the feasibility of food preparation strategies in a Martian habitat. Angelo prepared for this mission with FoAM, experimenting with food preservation, molecular gastronomy and cooking in unusual conditions with limited resources. Closer to home, Rasa and Christina Stadlbauer have continued with transgenerational learning encounters in a series of MUS-E classes and group activities, while Rasa and Shelbatra Jashari guided students through a range of possible relationships with nature in Werkweek rond Ecologie. On the FoAM Amsterdam front, Theun Karelse has been working on a new public garden designed in conjunction with local residents and unified into a coherent design by landscape architect Sanne Horn, who recently also designed the gardens for the Rijksmuseum. Based on the traditional "paradise gardens" of the Mediterranean, De Tuin van Jan features several innovations including a rainwater buffering system, a pavilion built from locally sourced second-hand materials - and it has a catwalk! With the spring rains new potential collaborations have sprouted in connection with FoAM's mobile foraging app, Boskoi. We're working on a Danish version with the Vordingborg municipality in Denmark, and have been rediscovered by Mundraub in Germany. Some French enthusiasts are also keen to help with the translation en français.
Big plans are in store in the coming months for the continuing transmutation of everything into everything else. We're experimenting with new residency formats to better reflect the needs of the people we'd like to support. Macrotransiencies are long-form meanders for those who are undergoing some kind of transition in their lives. For 2013 we are delighted to be hosting Luea Ritter and Michka Mélo as our "generalists in transience," who are boldly stepping out of well-defined, successful careers to navigate the uncertain but exciting realms of transdisciplinary edge-habitats. We designed Microresidencies, in contrast, for people who are keen to work on a more concentrated project that also substantially involves FoAM's team: short, intensive and focused sessions lasting anywhere from a few hours to a week. If you're interested in becoming one of the first Micro Residents, we're open to proposals related to food and food systems.
We're planning an all-new Splinterfields workshop for early September. This year our topic is "Biochymical Arts," bringing together biochemistry, cooking and bio-hacking in one masterclass. An open call for participants will be sent out before the summer. For Open Sauces, Nik and Dave are exploring ways to extend and transmute FoAM's extensive collection of recipes and food-related references into an online resource which contextualises and entangles recipes within whole food systems. And lastly, having crawled out from under a pile of accounting and reporting, Maja and Nik are soon to depart for the Young Global Leaders Alumni Summit and the World Economic Forum on "Courageous Transformation for Inclusion and Integration" in Burma/Myanmar. We wish them a great working holiday and a well-deserved break from the coalface of spreadsheets!
To conclude, we'd like to invite you to join several ongoing activities at FoAM - starting with an open invitation to our weekly apéro at Brussels HQ, which happens (almost) every Friday between 5-7 pm until mid-July. For something more in-depth, you can take part in our popular coaching programme with Vali Lalioti. And as mentioned above, there's two more places open for possible micro residencies this year - with the focus returning to the theme of food. So don't hesitate to get in touch: come visit in person, email, telephone, telegraph, send a paper missive in a bottle... We look forward to hearing from you!
Supported by the Flemish Authorities. PARN and Resilients projects: with the support of the Culture 2007-2013 Programme of the European Union.