FoAM digest - Autumn 02020

As this atypical summer in the Northern hemisphere draws to a close, we thought it timely to share what's been on our minds and in the works. To let you know how we've been, what we're up to and discuss some of our attempts at sensemaking while navigating uncertainty and these "turbulent times". Echoes from isolation, from a place reminiscent of The City and The City where "from that historically …

Voicing the dawn

In this reflection on rewilding my professional life through experiments with birdsong, I meander through the structure of dawn chorus, my research on birdsong in composition and some ideas for my new work Gardez La Distance, alongside personal thoughts on living and working with nature, linking sound, habitat and physiology of the time and place.

Plotting a path

In the proliferation of graphs and curves in recent months, finding meaning isn't always easy. When we see graphs as tools, reading them as sketches and summaries, they can be used to watch changes more closely, to better understand risk and uncertainty in chaotic situations. At FoAM we often use graphs to visualise and structure our participatory processes. One particular curve has been helpful in charting the evolution and various …

Step by step: building tangible livecoded braid robots

After successfully performing maypole dances and creating simple twists and weaves with hundreds of passers by at the Algomech festival in Sheffield, we noticed how much people like to interact with our woven robots - wanting to help or direct their actions by picking them up and trying to understand what they are doing.

As we are interested in tangible programming - where we move code from its conventional …

Building a new Pattern Matrix with conductive thread

While processor speeds and the use of computation in our society have increased enormously, it is significant that the materials of electronics construction itself (discrete components soldered on to resin printed circuit boards) has been broadly consistent for well over fifty years.

The Penelope project is concerned with re-evaluating histories of textile technologies with mathematical and scientific thought. The emergence of “wearable electronics”, in particular inspiration from Penelope collaborators and …

1000 portals

In the past few weeks I went to the park everyday, and pretend it's a beautiful forest.

I found some interesting insertion points to re-connect with this environment. I guess everybody is equipped with a unique set of skills to find some of these portals, as there are more than a 1000 portals.

Gardening in Isolation

The last months in isolation in Italy have provided a time to seed, watch, grow, and transform. This post is an homage to the seeding done during the pandemic and the harvest from these seeds of hope.

As systems crumble...

Ever since the Yugoslav war in the 1990s, I've got border issues. When the borders began closing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic I had a strong sense of déjà vu. Will the pandemic become yet another catalyst for violence and fragmentation? Just another reason to solidify borders and create distance from the other, the foreign, the uncanny and the unknown?

FoAM Zenne - co-working with plants and ghosts

On the verge of it’s 20th anniversary, a regenerated FoAM Brussels reveals its future plans as FoAM Zenne. We cultivate regenerative cultural practices with humans and other-than-humans, questioning how to live (well) in times of loss and shifting cultural values.

A checklist (moving house during a pandemic)

'Stay home', 'Shelter in place', 'Self-isolate'. Such instructions can only make sense with an appropriate place to stay. So, what would constitute a good shelter during a pandemic? A shelter that could become a home? Alongside the usual practicalities of location, cost or available services, what are some of the less tangible aspects to pay attention to?

Will this burn down my house?

Tracing our paths in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic led us to challenge what or where is considered 'home', and what our homes could become.

Memory Practice #2

How did pre-literate cultures store the vast amounts of information their cultures needed to thrive; the knowledge about their environment, the beings that surround them and how to live there as a people? I'm trying out some hands-on experiments and this is how its been unfolding this spring.

AccessLab pandemic style

Making an AccessLab event work online. This post covers changes we made to the workshop format, what worked and what didn't, and what we'd do differently next time.

Off-grid micro scale manufacturing – part of a COVID-19 response in Cornwall

For some time we have been prioritising tools and processes that can be reused for different purposes in times where infrastructure is failing. Part of our COVID-19 response to the above problems has been to refit a small garden shed with a solar power setup (from our Sonic Kayak workshops) so we can run one of our CNC machines more or less unsupervised*, slowly churning out small parts for …

Neuf pistes de tarification équitable

This article invites to think beyond a fixed universal price for products/services. It lists 9 ways you can play on pricing to shift the relationship between provider and customer, and possibly make your offer accessible to a broader and more diverse audience.

S'auto-former à l'ingénierie engagée

In many engineering schools, the divide is growing between students and staff about the room left to sustainability in the curriculum. At EPFL, a small group of students and alumni organized a self-training on appropriate technologies. This article details how we proceeded... and links to the replay of our self-training sessions, if you are interested!