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Bioluminescent Mushrooms

On a jungle night hike, we paused and turned off our head-

lamps. Suddenly we were confronted with glowing mysterious
patches around the forest. They were logs sprouting some of
the brightest bioluminescence we have ever seen. Participants
are currently sequencing the genes of these mushrooms to de-
termine if they are a new species.

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The Second Digital Naturalism Conference ran for all 31 days of August 2019 in the
town of Gamboa, Panama. It sought to bring together interaction designers, artists,
field biologists, and anyone interesting in finding new ways to explore the natural

The First Digital Naturalism Conference ran for 6 weeks in the year 2561 (2018) on
Koh Lon, Thailand. It was free for participants to join and independently funded by
Andrew Quitmeyer, Tasneem Khan, and additional crowdfunding.

Most imagery created and collected by the Dinacon 2 Documentary crew (Ananda
Gabo, Jorge Medina, José Alejandro Riascos Ramírez, and Nate Walsh), Andy Quit-
meyer and the participants themselves.

Book compiled and edited by

Andrew Quitmeyer and Kitty Kelly

The proceeedings of this entire conference are published under a Creative Commons
Share-Alike Attribution License. Please feel free to share, remix, and recreate any of
the content within.

It is only by working together that we can collectively form new ideas and methods
for exploring and understanding our world.

2019 - The Digital Naturalism Conference

Gamboa, Panama 2019 i-v

A three-dimensional aerial scan of Gamboa, Panama.
Created by Jonathan Hefter

Our neighbor, Mango the Sloth,

photographed by Kelsey Kinnett
Gamboa, Panama 2019 i-vii
Cherise Fong
Makery: Media for Labs
Projects P-105
Lee Wilkins Joel Murphy
PRODUCTION CREW  A-26 Jay Falk and Andrew Quitmeyer
Open Source Hummingbird Feeder
PARTICIPANTS  A-32 Ashley Zelinskie

Location A-35 FACE NATURE PANAMA  P-118

Madeline Schwartzman
Gamboa, Panama ANT COUNT-O-MATIC  P-122
Peter Marting
Jonathan Hefter SCULPTING SHADOWS  P-126
Albert Thrower
Gamboa, Panama WATCHING AGOUTIS  P-134 Madeline Blount


Gamboa, Panama Kristina Dutton collaborating with Lisa Schonberg
Founded 2019
Gamboa, Panama Blunderboffins


Madeline Blount
Sharing Hybrid Work / Exploring the Behavior Medium / Loss BALLOON ENVIRONMENTAL SENSING TAKES TO THE AIR  P-150
Andrew Quitmeyer -Dinacon Co-Founder Rob Faludi


Andrew Quitmeyer Michael Ang and Scott (Seamus) Kildall
Dinacon Co-Founder
EVENTS  A-86 Mónica Rikić and Ruben Oya
Open Saturdays, Field Trips, Performances, Exhibitions, Hikes
Hannah Perner-Wilson
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INVISIBLE COORDINATES: 9º07’09’N 79º41’48’W  P-170

Emily Zhukov and Peter Marting


Wythe Marschall


Joetta Gobell


Emily Volk


Nacho Sanguinetti & Trevor Silverstein
Double XL


Matteo Farinella, Pamela Parker
Department of Amphibological Research: Specimen #006




Heriberto Pinzón,
Classical Composer


Tully Arnot
Ceramic bird whistle, silicone tube, blower fan, microcontroller, air, sound


Jon Gill
Designer, Architect, Visualizer


Päivi Maunu

Ann Gerondelis Raja Schaar
Drexel University


Jonas Kramer-Dickie
During a Night Hike, we meet up with biolo-
BINAURAL FIELD RECORDING  P-222 gist, Cindy Cifuentes, of Rachel Page’s Lab,
Joel Murphy who shows us her tools for catching, study-
@biomurph ing, and releasing wild bats (the bat shown is
an Artibeus jamaicensis - Jamaican Fruit Bat).

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Xindi Kang
University of California Santa Barbara, Media Arts and Technology


AMA  P-228
Cherise Fong
Makery: Media for Labs


Joel Murphy

Jennifer Payne
Physical Visualization of Dinacon Attendance Data


Saad Chinoy and Jo Havemann

Deren Guler

Jo Havemann and Wythe Marschall


Emily Volk
Designer, Architect, Visualizer


John Girgis


Anna Carreras
BAU Design College of Barcelona, Spain

Betty Sargent

Lena Maria Eikenbusch, Janne Nora Kummer, Tomás Montes Massa, and Leoni


Julian Stirling

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Susan Booher


Susan Booher
Video Journal


Stephanie Rothenberg


Lisa Schonberg


Cherise Fong


Grace Grothaus

Ashlin Aronin


TIONS  P-298
Rabía Williams (ACA)
Live Documentary


Phillip Hermans
Very Good Listening


Marta Verde


Rob Faludi


Mary Miller


Dann Disciglio, Lucinda Dayhew
Striation Sonification


Ray LC
One of Michal Salhaf’s natural sculp-
TADPOLE SOUNDSCAPES OF GAMBOA  P-326 tures installed in the forest.
Lee Wilkins and Samantha Wong

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Sid Drmay


ISLA Nava, Saul Nava, Vida Nava, Stephanie Dowdy-Nava


Stephanie Dowdy-Nava, Gamboa Discovery School


Vida Nava

Ashley Zelinskie






Kelsey Kinnett

Megan Wyreweden
Gouache, ink, and found fishing line on watercolor paper


Andromyda Wagenman


Andromyda Wagenman

Analysis 365
Dinacon Participants and Committee

MONEY  367
Dinacon’s Budget
Total Amount (Approximate) Spent by All Participants to Join Dinacon
(Housing, Registration, Travel, etc...)
Average Spending Per Participant
Sid Drmay’s Sustainable Zine project
ACTIVITIES AND EXPECTATIONS  368 is made entirely of foraged materials
What do you anticipate doing during your stay FOR YOUR PROJECT?
(even the electricity for the laser etching
was “foraged” from the solar panels)

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What do you anticipate doing FOR OTHER ACTIVITIES?

How did your project change (or not) from original expectations?
What was a valuable aspect of Dinacon for you?
What’s something unexpected about your time at Dinacon?
How would you rate the following aspects of Dinacon?
Did you like the freeform dates concept where folks come and go?
Andy’s research in Digital Naturalism was originally based around 4 tenets: Pro-
moting agency over one’s tools, building in context, making immersive interac-
tions, and open-ended designs. We did not explicitly impose these concepts, but
did you feel guided into any of these values throughout the conference?
How might your experiences affect your future practice or life?
How would you improve the conference?


Kitty Kelly and Andrew Quitmeyer


Andrew Quitmeyer, Ruben Oya, and Local Dinasaur Emergency Action Crew


Ruben Oya

DINACON 3 - 2021  400

Andrew Quitmeyer

Test cutting some of Tiare Ribeaux’s

bioplastic with the laser cutter

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Emily Zhukov and Peter Marting’s “Invisible Coordinates” project highlights the
textile skills of Arachnid friends

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ANDREW QUITMEYER Jorge Medina Madrid
DIGITAL NATURALISM LABORATORIES Es un estudiante de 24 años que cursa el
Dr. Andrew Quitmeyer is a hacker / ad- último año de la carrera de Biología Ani-
venturer studying intersections between mal en la Universidad de Panamá. Mi in-
wild animals and computational devices. teres está en el grupo de las Aves, espe-
His academic research in “Digital Natu- cialmente las Aves Nocturnas.
ralism” at the National University of Sin- He’s a 24-year-old student in the last year
gapore blended biological fieldwork and of his degree in Animal Biology at the
DIY digital crafting. This work takes him University of Panama. He loves birds, es-
through international wildernesses where pecially Night Birds, and is an expert taxi-
he runs workshops with diverse groups dermist and costume designer.
of scientists, artists, designers, and engi-
neers. In his “Hiking Hacks” around the Nate Walsh
world, participants build technology en- Background in advertising and psycholo-
tirely in the wild for interacting with na- gy. I currently live in Austin, Texas, USA,
ture. His research also inspired a ridicu- working at a tech-focused ad agency as
lous spin-off television series he hosted a copywriter. I do not like writing about
for Discovery Networks called “Hacking myself in third person.
the Wild.” The Digital Naturalism Con- Previously attended Andy’s hiking hack-
ference is his largest undertaking thus far, athon in Panama, back in 2015. Now, I’ll
and is leading him to start his own perma- be helping document DiNaCon in the
nent Art-Science Field Station Fab Lab. form of daily write-ups, but also a big of
instant photography, so hella Polaroids.

José Alejandro Riascos Ramírez

LEE WILKINS I am an undergraduate biology student
LITTLE DADA / SITE 3 COLABORATORY from Colombia and an illustrator by hob-
L Wilkins is a cyborg based in Toronto, by. Although I am focused on learning
Canada. They are currently a PhD student more about birds and mammals, I always
at the University of Toronto, chair at Site try to escape to draw my own version of
3 coLaboratory, and co-executive direc- reality and share it with others, because
tor of Little Dada. personally, I think that it is the best way to
spread knowledge, ideas and emotions…
I’m interested in exploring the relation- and honestly, there are things that must
ship between the senses at nature through be shared.
cybernetics. I want to explore magnetic
fields and translating them into physical Ananda Gabo
experiences. I plan to create at least 2 de- I am here as part of the documentation
vices that translate these fields into senso- team for DiNaCon 2 (2019) to help archive
ry experiences, and contrast this data with some of the collaborative interpretations
other environments. of the digital + natural world through the
perspectives of creative technologists, sci-
entists, and hackers. In Toronto, I run a
series of community biology workshops
in the basement of a mall in Chinatown
and play between the realms of food sys-
tems, culinary arts, biohacking, and craft.

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The production crew helps handle the mayhem of an openly-scheduled, freeform
conference. They manage everything from people’s housing and meals to helping set
up large exhibitions and performances.

Carolina Gómez
I am a biologist in love with bees! My pas-
sion for these amazing insects has creat-
ed in me a huge curiosity about the mys-
teries of their sensory systems. With the
help of flashlights, cardboard, tape, plastic
hoses, cameras, and some other common
stuff, I’ll be creating bio-crafts to conduct
olfaction experiments and to understand
more about these cuties we call bees!

As part of the Dinacon Team, I’ll be help-

ing and be your guide to find your way to

Amanda Savage
I’ll be playing with different ways to cap-
ture elusive and unusually quick moving
bats in the jungle canopy. I have been us-
ing the powers of duct tape, cheapo dash
cams and some ingenuity to capture bats
attracted to their prey by use of sound
or acoustic playback only. I would like to
streamline this process and make longer
running camera traps that don’t require
constant maintenance and battery ex-

I’m also hoping to use the powers of in-

trigue and creativity to bring local res-
idents’ attention to living in a national
park and how going with the jungle is way
funner than ignoring the principles of na-
ture (ie: croc awareness; reducing waste;
housing beneficial neighbors like insec-
tivorous bats!).
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Robert Faludi

is an advisor and consultant for connected device

companies. He is currently head of product for
Perceptive Things, a startup in the Smart Build-
The node leaders were experts from many fields invited to seed the conference with ings space. For six years, he was the Chief Innova-
interesting projects and ideas. Because the entire conference is open and emergent, tor at Digi International, working to forge strong
the node leaders have no official roles or responsibilities other than that whatever proj- connections with the maker community, uncov-
ects they work on are open to public collaboration with all participants. er new innovation methodologies, support out-
standing new work, and create prototypes.

David Bowen Valerie Harris

is a studio artist and educator whose work has been Valerie is the Director of the Wildlife Cancer Ob-
featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions servation Network and a PhD student at Arizona
nationally and internationally. Bowen’s work con- State University. She studies all things animal,
sists of interactive, reactive and generative pro- evolution and cancer related. Her particular inter-
cesses that emerge from intersections between est lies in how cancer affects non-human animals,
natural and mechanical systems. He is currently and how the different evolutionary paths each
an Associate Professor of Sculpture and Physical species has taken might affect how susceptible
Computing at the University of Minnesota. each one is to cancer.

Daniëlle Hoogendijk ART±BIO Collaborative

Daniëlle is an international field researcher, en- is an artist and scientist-led nonprofit organization
vironmental educator, paraveterinarian, and based in Cambridge, MA that fosters the integra-
soon-to-be tropical forester from the chilly Neth- tion of Science, Nature, and Art and is focused on
erlands. Dani not only documents projects, but broadening participation and accessibility in the
uses her skills as an adventurous polymath to help Arts and Sciences through novel collaborations,
practioners solve problems and fully realize their public engagement, education, and research.
goals in wilderness contexts. Stephanie Dowdy-Nava, M.A., artist, arts adminis-
trator, and art educator Saúl S. Nava.

Sjef van Gaalen Deren Guler

Design researcher. Futures & Fiction, Collage & is a researcher and educator who specializes in de-
Camouflage. Structure & Narrative. signing accessible technology solutions and tools.
Some of you might remember the mess of a work- She holds a BS in Physics and a Master of Tangible
shop last year at Dinacon 1 in which we solved cap- Interaction Design from Carnegie Mellon Uni-
italism with de-extincted CRISPR dinosaurs that versity. She is a part-time Lecturer in the Design
filtered plastic and pooped structures for aquat- and Technology department at Parsons the New
ic farms to grow on? You don’t? Ok cool yeah me School for design and leads workshops in design-
neither. ing for the future around the world.

Mar Alzamora Maggie Kane (

Coming from nearby Panama City, Mar is a mu- is an experimental artist that specializes in the
sician, writer, sound artist, speaker, educator and design and development of sustainable social sys-
cultural manager. An advocate of experimental tems via technology and accessible educational
and new music and sound studies. Co-founder programming.
and bassist of the Paisaxe Ensemble since 2008.
Her poetry and short films have won multiple lo- Streetcat is ~ A free knowledge + education ad-
cal and international awards. Her literary work has vocate. Founder of feminist/ trans/ non-binary
been translated into English, Arabic, and French. friendly makerspace. Recycled materials artist.

Andrew Coates Scott (Seamus) Kildall (

is a specialist in Tropical architecture that is sus- is a new media artist who creates installations
tainable ( Gamboa is home, office about how nature interacts with humans, includ-
and inspiration since 2002. Cresolus moved to ing creating “voices for plants” based on their elec-
Panama from East Africa.Andrew, his wife Beth, trical activity and synthesizers from water quality.
and their team work around the tropical world
creating infrastructure and buildings that func-
tion well in hot, humid climates.Cresolus’ main
focus is on National Parks facilities and systems.
Craig Durkin ( Dr. Amit Zoran

is a renaissance man of design and fun adventure. is Senior Lecturer at the School of Engineering
and Computer Science at the The Hebrew Uni-
During the conference he proposes to lead versity of Jerusalem. In his work, Dr. Zoran stud-
mini-expeditions while carrying a bunch of sen- ies human-computer interaction, design, craft,
sors to do 360 camera + GPS mapping + fruit/plant and cooking, exploring the divergent realms of
identification of trails on the island, and produc- emerging computational design technologies and
ing videos, imagery, and maps of things we find. traditional hand-hewn skills.

Tiare Ribeaux Joel Murphy

During Dinacon, I am interested in a few different Joel is the engineer behind the Pulse Sensor www.
avenues of exploration: studying symbiotic rela- and OpenBCI www.openbci.
tionships and mutualism in different species in com. Joel designs and hacks electronics and spe-
Panama (such as leaf-cutter ants and fungus crops; cializes in biosensing. Other exploits include www.
plants and mycorrhizal fungi; frogs and their skin, He is co-design-
microbiota); then creating a unique bio-digital ing this year’s badge for the Biohacking Village at
project that involves sculpture, sensors, and story- DEFCON.I plan to be humbled by the difficulties
telling to demonstrate these symbioses. of working with tech in the jungle.

Kitty Kelly (

Josh Michaels
is a librarian turned professional yarn-crafter. Her
Hello world! My name is Josh Michaels, I’m a interests lie in sustainability, knitting and crochet,
creative polymath with a bias toward technology books, and red pandas. She has volunteered to
from Portland, Oregon. My primary interest with teach some of her amazing skills during the con-
regards to naturalism is the power of nature im- ference. Perhaps you will be able to become a mo-
mersion as a form of therapy. With an increasing bile knitter / hiker like her!
global focus on mental health and mindfulness,
regular immersion in nature is often overlooked
as one of the simplest and cheapest therapies.

Julian Stirling

I am a physicist specialising in instrumentation. I

have worked on experiments ranging from blue
skies measurements of the Universal Constant of
Gravitation, to practical mass metrology at the
milligram level. At the University of Bath, I work
on open source hardware, including the Open-
Flexure microscope.

Mónica Rikić

I’m a new media artist and creative coder from

Barcelona. I focus my practice in code, electron-
ics, and non-digital objects for creating interac-
tive projects often framed as experimental games,
which aim to go beyond the game itself. From ed-
ucational to sociological approaches, my interest
lies in the de-hierarchization of traditional art re-

Madeline Schwartzman (www.madelineschwartz-, @seeyourselfsensing)

is a New York City writer, filmmaker, and architect

whose work explores human narratives and the
human sensorium through social art, book writ-
ing, curating, and experimental video making. Node Leader Schwartzman leads several
Her book, See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human
Perception, is a collection of futuristic proposals for
jungle painting workshops
the body and the senses.
194 people applied to this year’s dinacon (down from nearly 300 who applied for Di-
nacon 1, but that one was free without any registration costs). We had applicants from
every continent except Antarctica.

We were able to accept about 140 people, of which 112 joined us in Gamboa, Panama.

Local Architect, Andrew Coates, leads a tour

about tropical sustainable architecture

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A-34 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 A-35
GAMBOA The following packet was included as orienta- the world’s leading outdoor laboratories.
tion materials for people arriving at Dinacon. The location provides direct access to a
Gamboa, Panama This excerpt shares some of the layout, history, wide variety of fascinating jungle crea-
and creatures of this strange place we all got to tures. You will see leaf-cutter ants blazing
live and work in throughout August. green, shimmering trails through the for-
est while howler monkeys roar in the dis-
Welcome! tance. Agoutis and capybaras lope around
We are delighted you could join us in this the small town, which also hosts caimans,
very odd place. Not many towns on earth iguanas, and several hundred bird spe-
are between a massive shipping canal and cies. Plus, Gamboa is only 40 km from the
incredible natural biodiversity. Most don’t nearest international airport hub, making
have a captured Nazi crane overlooking a it quite easily accessible from many plac-
biological field station buzzing with inter- es on earth.
national scientists. And many towns don’t
have agoutis trotting down streets, howl- It looks and feels like a small, midwest-
er monkeys echoing in the distance, riv- ern US town from the mid-20th century
ers of green leafcutter ant highways, and (it even has a baseball field!) that has been
creepy Yogi Bear heads on springs. (Plus, taken back over by the jungle a little bit.
Gamboa probably has the best street signs
in the world). We hope you enjoy your time in this spe-
cial place, and learn to love and interact
Gamboa, Panama sits at the confluence with the creatures surrounding you.
of 2 continents, 2 oceans, and evolving
ecological, technological, and sociological This packet includes a basic guide to
factors over the past 100 years. It’s located many of the non-human creatures you
directly in the center of Panama wedged will meet during your stay. It is very sim-
between the canal and the Soberania Na- ple, a bit prone-to-error, and sometimes
tional Forest. downright wrong, but you really shouldn’t
just straight-up believe any information
This spot of extreme biodiversity and just handed to you, so we encourage you
massive anthropogenic geoengineering to question and verify information by ex-
became the home of the Smithsonian’s ploring it yourself, first-hand.
Tropical Research Institute (STRI), one of

Male Three-toed sloth perched atop a Cecropia

tree full of Azteca ants deeper down pipeline road
(Aerial photograph by A. Quitmeyer)
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A-38 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 A-39
The goal of our conference is for you to help us explore new ways of inter-
acting with the non-human, living world. We welcome you to take on this

challenge in any way you see fit, and we try to provide you with as many tools
as possible. Our philosophy is one of freedom, responsibility, and respect, so
we try to provide as few rules or guidelines as possible and rely on you to help
make this a fun, creative, safe, welcoming atmosphere.


1. You must complete something.

Aim big, aim small- just figure out a task for yourself that you can commit
to that you can accomplish during your time at the conference. It can be
any format you want: sculpture, a movie, a poem, a fingerpainting, a journal
article – you just have to finish it!

2. Document it openly.
You need to document what you made and share it with our group at the
conference (even if that means just sharing an article you wrote or taking
a photo of the thing). Everything will be made open-source and publicly ac-
cessible! At a minimum, this means publishing a post on our Wordpress.

3. Get written feedback on your project (x2).

You need to find at least two other participants who will provide you with
written (or video, or any kind of non-ephemeral ) feedback about your
project. For instance, you can get someone to agree to send you an email,
give you a handwritten note, or film a video impression of their feedback,
and give it to you. We want to make sure that you get the most out of your
surroundings and the people here to help refine your projects. We also want
to help you not get overwhelmed, which is why the feedback you get must
be in some form that you can review at a later time, perhaps when you have
left Dinacon and can reflect in a more relaxed manner.

Additional Rules
1. Be nice to all humans and non-humans
2. Mandatory Break/Empty all houses between 5:30-6:30 pm for sunset
3.Saturdays 5-8pm (August 10, 17, 24, 31) are public, exhibition “Open Days”
to share your projects or work with the community!

Semi-Reliable, Creature + Conference Guide


1. No more than 2 common-style presentations at the conference per day.
2. Expect your first 2 days to be chaos! Just soak it in and enjoy.
3. Help clean stuff up (even if it isn’t your mess).

A-40 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 A-41
Tungara Frogs
Trachops cirrhosus frog eating bat

Agalychnis callidryas
Red-Eyed Tree Frog / Rana Arborícola de Ojos Rojos
This is the go-to creature for designers when
they want to let an audience know that some- Howler Monkeys / Monos Aulladores
thing is really in the rainforest. They are lovely, That terrifying dragon roar you hear in the
colorful creatures with a neat superpower: Their jungle? Just dude monkeys yelling at each
White necked jacobin hummingbird
eggs can sense vibrations around them, and if other. Supposedly, researchers found the
Engystomops pustulosus Trachop cirrhossis predators are detected, they can induce their
Túngara Frog / Sapo Túngara Frog Eating Bat / Murciélago de Labio Ver- louder a male’s call, the smaller his testi-
own birth to escape. cles are.
Subject of one of the longest animal be- rugoso
havioral studies, these frogs sound like la- This bat listens to the calls of the Tungara Fig Wasps / Avispa del
ser-videogames with a 2-part mating call, frogs, and chomps them down good. They
megalopta stingless bee

the whine and the chuck (the more chuck, are super clever, and can learn and re-
Fig flowers are on the
the sexier the call). You will find them in member artificial calls (like cell phone ring
tones) for years! inside of the fruit. How
puddles and sewers with big piles of foamHeliconius melpomeme or Heliconius does that work? Ask
(their egg clutches). erato yflrettub suinocileh someone about the
Mariposa de bandas Carmesí wasps!
This genus of jungle butterflies has large vari-
ation in color patterning. Different species of- Florisuga mellivora
ten mimic each other to share warning signals White Necked Jacobin
Megalopta genalis against predation (mullerian mimicry). / Jacobino Nuquiblanco
Nocturnal Sweat Bee / Abeja del sudor Hummingbirds in general are a violent,
Nocturna Cebinae blood -and sugar-thirsty set of creatures
Capuchin Monkeys / Monos Cariblancos ó
These bees are sometimes solitary and whose hover battles sound like light-
sometimes social. They forage for food Monos Capuchinos saber fights. These Jacobins have an in-
only during sunset and sunrise (they are Rambunctious monkeys with incredible teresting sexual morphism where some
crepuscular), and need special eyes to prehensile tails. females have entirely male coloration.
navigate at high speeds in dim light. Scientists are trying to figure out why.
Atta columbica Red Eyed Tree Frogs Ant Birds Aves Hormigueras Eciton burchelli
Leafcutter Ant / Hormigas Arrieras Army Ant / Hormigas Gurreras
Cute birds with a neat symbiosis with
The most obvious animal in the forest. The rivers of leaves flowing Unlike other ants, Army ants have no static
Army Ants. They follow swarms of ants
Eciton Burchellii Army Ant

through the jungle are carried by one of the most sophisticated home. Instead, they roam the forest, like a
moving through the forest and oppor-
superorganismal systems of ants delivering vegetable matter to giant particulate amoeba, flowing through
tunistically munch insects flushed out.
grow large fungus farms. Each fungus is genetically specific to one the jungle and consuming all in their path.
Ant-scientists form a mutualism with
driB tnA

specific colony, and they are perhaps the world’s most successful these birds to listen for their calls, to
monocultural farmers. hunt down where Army ants are living.


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Two-Toed Sloth / Perezoso de dos garras
These gentle friends are often overlooked
as barely moving balls of fluff in the cano-
py. Their slow metabolism means their food
can take 1 month to digest, but sometimes
you can spot them when they come to the
ground to poop.
Paraponer clava-
ta Bullet Ant / Hormi-
ga Bala
Tied for the largest Ramphastos sulfuratus
ant in the world, it Keel Billed Toucan / Tucan
has undoubtedly the Pico Iris
most painful sting of One of the two species of
Dasyprocta leporina any wasp, ant, or bee. Choloepus didactylus toucan in gamboa, these are
Golden Rumped Agouti / Yard Pig / Wonderpig/ Morpho didius Three-Toed Sloth / Perezoso de tres hilarious jerks of birds. They
It scores a whopping
Blue Morpho Butterfly / Mariposa Morfo pretty much eat whatever
Ñeque 4+ on the Schmidt garras
A ubiquitous creature in Gamboa. It is both Pain Index. (Shown Bigger, and more toes than the 2 can go into their large gor-
the silliest and most gracefully athletic crea- Often mistaken for an actual butterfly, geous beaks and have been
actual size.) toed.
tures. Females are larger than males and live these are not even insects, nor animals spotted munching down oth-
15-20 years in captivity. Related to porcupines, at all. Instead these crystal blue appa- ers’s baby birds
its hair on its butt poofs up when it is startled rations flashing across the jungle green
are actually small tears in the fabric of Tamandua mexicana
(which is often), and it scampers away with a Northern Anteater / Tama-
loud huff-squawk. space-time. These 0-dimensional irregu-
larities bend the ambient light passing ndua Norteño
by to reveal brilliant blue flashes. Nearly blind, long tongue,
walk funny, can gut you
with their claws.

Night Monkeys / Mono Nocturno
Have you seen one? What do they
look like? What are their secrets?

Nasua narica
Coatimundi / Gato Solo
An adorable pointy jungle panda, these racoon
relatives have a long flexible snoot that can rotate
60 degrees in any direction. Adult males roam as
individuals, but females and juveniles roam in
packs, and use their long tails held up high to
stay together in thick vegetation. Depicted here
is a futuristic coati with experimental laboratory
Caimaninae backpack workstation.
Caiman / Caimán
Azteca alfari + Cecropia Trees Termes panamensis They are the tiny croc-
Aztec Warrior Ants / Hormigas aztecas + Gua- Termites / Termitas odile looking things
rumo Those cool gnarly knobs you have been seen in ponds, or some-
These ants have a symbiotic mutualism with seeing around the jungle? Full of termites! times just strolling up
a tree. The bamboo like stalk provides a Check out their covered pathways spread- the street. Their eyes
home for the ants, while the ants act like an ing like veins across a tree. What are they have a distictve color
active forcefield against herbivores. doing in there? shine you can easily
spot at night.
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Did you finish your project? Somehow struggling for some-
thing to do despite being surrounded by fascinating people,
wildlife, and technology? Probably not, but it can be over-
whelming! Also you have a unique chance to contribute pro-
jects that last by building them into Dinalab’s infrastructure.
Here’s tips of fun and useful things to do:

-Go on a night hike or even stroll around town (bring head-


-Fix something broken

-Have a picnic near the canal

-Borrow a kayak and take it on the Chagres

Terrestrial Exploration
Pipeline road (oleoducto) is one of the biggest birding sites in the world and a key sci- -Help somebody document their work
entific research path in the Soberania national forest. And it’s right in Gamboa!

The jungle also has various levels of accessibility. You can just stay on Pipeline road, -Build some permanent infrastructure for the Dinalab (per-
which is a road that cuts through the jungle, or you can walk down a path along a river haps an automated, hydroponic garden? or a portable out-
deeper into the jungle, or you can go bonkers and bushwack through super rough stuff. door workshop?)

-Take an existing project and make it wireless/waterproof/


-Clean up!

-Relax and enjoy the sounds of the forest


-Teach a workshop

-Stare at an animal for a really long time

Aquatic Exploration
We can rent kayaks and go in the lake nearby! You can also hire boats and ride around
the canal and visit islands! If we are lucky, we can work out some trips to Barro Colo- -Ask a scientist about something they need help with
rado Island (BCI).

-Design a tool for Dinalab

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Sights around Gamboa.
Photography by Nate Walsh.
Murals by Damond Kyllo

Gamboa, Panama 2019 A-53


During Dinacon, we utilized aerial pho-

tography and photogrammetry to cre-
ate an aerial mapping of Gamboa.

First, we used the resident Dinalab

drone, a DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, and an on-
line tool, DroneDeploy, to create a flight
plan that would send the drone autono-
mously zigzagging across Gamboa, pro-
ducing hundreds of high-quality pho-
tos. Then, we processed the photos with
software that performed photogram-
metry – a technique that measures the
difference in perspective from multiple
photos to create a range of specialized

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digital images. Some of the software
we tried for photogrammetry included
DroneDeploy, 3DF Zephyr, Metashape,
and OpenDroneMap.

One limiting factor was computing pow-

er. Photogrammetry is a very proces-
sor-intensive operation, best done with
powerful graphics cards. For this project
we only had the CPU of a Lenovo X1 Car-
bon ultrabook, leading to many hours of
processing to achieve maps of medium
detail. Fortunately, the DroneDeploy
software is cloud-based, so we were able
to get quick results with that. Addition-
ally, by fine-tuning settings and allowing
the laptop to process overnight, we were
able to get good results with the other
software, particularly 3DF Zephyr.

Models are all opensource and avail-

able here:
(And soon on sites like Thingiverse)

An orthophoto is an aerial photo that has
been geometrically corrected, giving an
accurate, uniform scale between points
on the map and providing a direct, top-
down perspective for every point of the

Elevation Map
Displays relative elevation of an image,
from lowest (blue) to highest (red).

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Gamboa, Panama
We will be staying at The Soberanía Field Station run by Guido
Berguido’s ADOPTA organization, which serves as an eco-educa-
tion center and functions to raise money to save rainforest in the
Darien Region.

From ADOPTA’s website:

Adopt a Panamá Rainforest — ADOPTA for short — is a non-govern-
mental organization (NGO) created to promote the conservation and sus-
tainable use of forests for the people and wildlife of Panamá. We support
our on-the-ground conservation efforts through education initiatives
and research projects aimed to improve our societal understanding of the
natural world and ecosystem management. The majority of these efforts
are accomplished with the generous help of dedicated students and volun-
teers, who we consider the backbone of our organization.

A passion for birdwatching grew into a massive conservation effort when

Cerro Chucantí, the tallest mountain of Panamá’s isolated Majé moun-
tain range, was discovered by our founder, Guido Berguido. Although the
initial impressions of Chucantí were positive – with unexpected sightings
of rare birds such as the Varied Solitaire (Myadestes coloratus) – contin-
ued trips brought great disappointment as we witnessed the rainforest
ADOPTA functioned as our headquarters for group meals, and
being slashed and burnt at a rapid rate to clear the land for agriculture.
additional laboratory and studio space.
These threats to Chucantí could not be ignored, so we purchased land on
the mountain to make one of the largest private nature reserves in Pan-
ama where more than a dozen organisms previously unknown to science
have been discovered since 2003, and new species of flora and fauna are
continuing to be described on a regular basis. ADOPTA was created to
manage this reserve, but has since grown into an organization that as-
sists conservation efforts throughout the country of Panamá.

It has 11 rooms: 2 double bed rooms, 4 dorms for up to 4 pax each,

4 dorms for up to 10 pax each, and 1 dorm for 5 pax.

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Founded 2019

This Dinacon coincides with the grand opening of the new Digital Naturalism Labo-
ratories (Dinalab) facility! It’s a 100% solar powered, fully stocked workshop for arts,
engineering, design, scientific tool-making, and small scale manufacturing.

Kitty and Andy just started setting it up in February 2019, and it will only get more and
more awesome! This will be a key space for Dinasaurs to develop creative projects to-

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This is a 235 square meter building locat- The lower level also features a garage
ed right in Gamboa, Panama. There’s a workshop with larger wood and metal
jungly backyard complete with agouti re- working tools. Next to the garage shop is
search assistants. a utility room with industrial sinks and
washer and dryer.
There is housing for 6 people, a large
kitchen, 3 refrigerators, and two bath- The upper floor has bedrooms for visiting
rooms. There is fiber optic internet residents and a large gallery space / mod-
(75MBps), which is an amazing luxury in ular workshop area. There is also a lovely
this remote town, along with electricity, screened-in back porch for birdwatch-
gas, and drinkable tap water. ing, dining, yoga/working out, or movie
There is an electronics workshop on the
first floor that currently has: We have one jungle truck available for ac-
cessing nearby features, and moving large
Laser Cutter objects or groups of people. It’s a Ford
2x 3D printers Ranger, 4×4 Turbo. With local architect
Vinyl Cutter Andrew Coates, we have also set up a vol-
Soldering Stations unteer rescue service that frees scientists
Power Tools stuck behind fallen trees.
Robotic Arms (Uarm Swift Pro x2)
hundreds of assorted electronics, sen- After Dinacon, Dinalab is used to host
sors, and microcontrolers long-and short-term bioart, design, and
and much more! engineering residencies, as well as func-
tion as a community makerspace.

Dinalab’s kitchen is very popular.

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(Below) Blacki the Tardigrade works at his
portable microbiology lab. (Above) Blacki the
human does this too at the lab he setup un-
der the stairs in Dinalab. (Illustration by Jose

Dinalab even comes stocked with several re-

stroom facilities (that are usually functioning)

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Gamboa, Panama

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Attention Model able, or have received the most training.


I view other people’s attentions as wild They then collect and study the mental
animals. They dart about a rich forest of creatures lured out by this particular, con-
information, hunting for specific cues and trolled approach. They can understand
stimuli unique to each individual’s devel- this specific audience even better, and
Sharing Hybrid Work / Exploring the Behavior Medium / Loss opment. Attentions should be respected then iteratively hone these experiments
ANDREW QUITMEYER -DINACON CO-FOUNDER and valued, and one should be appre- to explore even deeper methods for in-
ciative of the times you experience with teracting with these groups.
them. They are often skittish and difficult
to capture (and probably should never be My method (or perhaps it is simply just
fully captured). We can never truly know the manner in which I have felt most
how these unique, beautiful mind-ani- comfortable) typically entails more dy-
mals will behave or respond to certain namic experimentation.
stimuli, but if I want to share an idea or
experience, I need to study, observe, and I don’t want to capture a person’s atten-
experiment with their interactions in the tion just to communicate a specific idea,
informational niches in which they have but to also lure them down new paths that
developed. For me, the intricacies of be- expose them to different ways of thinking
ing able to grab any diverse audience’s at- and being. I don’t want to inject a person’s
tention forces any author in any medium mind with content in a controlled man-
to become an naturalist on safari. ner, but rather draw their attention out of
the forest of information through rapid,
I have no true idea exactly how someone dynamic experimentation.
will consume a particular item of media.
Does their mind march continuously like Whether it is a book, a film, a talk, a
a leaf-cutter ant straight through a book song, or an entire conference, I try to set
from front to back, or do they forage like out an experimental field of rich con-
an agouti, scampering around pages until tent with the hopes that there will be at
a particularly juicy piece of content perks least one thing to hook the curiosity of
up their nose? Have their attentions been everything around. The goal is that ini-
somewhat domesticated and trained to tial hook though, is densely packed near
receive information in a specific technical other content which then entices your at-
format or genre? What type of bait lures tention towards other nearby stimuli you
out what creatures in the undergrowth would probably ignore or skip past on a
of information they live in? Do technical cursory glance. It’s a rich, fractal plane of
diagrams, poems, infographics, musical paths leading towards other aspects of the
notation, or just interesting patterns of shared content, which are ultimately in-
colors trigger certain pathways for specif- complete.
ic audiences to absorb specific types of
information? The point of this book (and even the con-
ference as a whole) is that, even if you
Is the medium even suitable to capture never read these particular sentences, you
the focus of a particular person, or is the might glimpse something in here (per-
stimuli so ill-adapted to a certain type of haps a poem, or sloth, or drawing) that
mind that it goes by as unnoticed as ultra- brings you down one extra layer of ex-
sonic bat calls landing on human ears? ploration than you originally intended,
and that this foray leaves something with
Like any scientific exploration, there are you, an unfinished feeling that compels
myriad approaches to deal with this chal- you to somehow explore the concepts de-
lenge of connecting with the diversity of scribed even further.
other people’s minds. Some people sim- ------
ply share information in a medium or Core Concepts
manner in which they are most comfort- When I am giving a talk, I start it off with

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a one-minute prelude. The talks are slide- create their own actions and respond to this about the animals’ behaviors can inspire new Let’s build robots and play in nature
shows that generally last 40 minutes, but information they have taken in. We can call ways to program the digital devices. Putting
contain over 200 images. I warn people these senses and responses “Behaviors.” them together, co-minglings of animal and To figure out how to harness the potential
beforehand that the talks go very fast, and digital behaviors can help us understand the of this new medium, we have to play with
instead of focusing on a specific thing, The intricate, reactive procedures of behaviors design of both computers and animals. it and explore it.
they should let the experience and stimuli are shared by both natural living creatures
wash over them. The function of the pre- and digital computers, The problem is, though, that while animal be- The beauty of this thought, that we hold
lude, though, is to help the audience by It’s the first time humans have the ability to haviors are very old, computers are extremely a powerful new way of not only commu-
giving them a lifeline they can hold on to communicate in a medium of sophisticated, new. We do not yet know all of the good ways nicating, but coexisting with other crea-
as we go on our journey through the proj- interactive behaviors. to arrange these configurations of creatures, tures, is what compels my work.
ects and theories comprising this “Digital environments, and computers to be able to
Naturalism” endeavor. Unlike the rest of There are differences, though, that come from really make use of the new digital behavioral In order to explore, however, you have to
the talk, jam-packed with colorful im- HOW the creatures’ and computers’ behaviors abilities we have. make yourself and your ideas vulnerable.
agery of interesting places, projects, and are created. The context in which they were People joining Dinacon are not instructed
technologies, I keep the prelude abstract, made governs their processes they enact. The It is a first foray into exploring ways to design or commanded to follow these topics ex-
simple, and black and white. My intention animal’s actions precipitate from the intermin- computers that bring us into nature, let us bet- plicitly in any way. Instead, I try to expose
is to whittle down the core philosophy be- gling forces of nature over billions of years. ter connect with, and understand the strange participants to these concepts ambiently
hind everything I do to a simple message The computers’ functions are developed by creatures around us. and through experiences they can em-
that the audience can hold with them and human social forces, and they also acquire It’s the messiest medium we have ever bark on, and I hope they join me in these
return to whenever they might start to idiosyncrasies from their materiality and the gotten to use. particular media explorations.
feel lost or confused. contexts in which they are built and used. The When I try to boil down this prelude to It’s definitely not the most efficient way to
powerful new abilities of digital, behavioral a single concept, I end up usually getting conduct research. In fact, I often feel little
I’m not quite successful with that, though. media also change and affect us stuck on three. progress gets made towards these precise
The prelude for each talk always ends up ideas. I sometimes find myself aching for
a little different, and I change around bits The organism is grown to fill pockets in the We have powerful new tools someone to straightforwardly work on
in the hope that I can make things clearer, environment. The computer is carved down to a project that simply takes some kind of
more direct, and simpler, while truly cap- be placed into these areas. Our tools change us input from a natural system and delivers
turing the entirety of my motivations. But some kind of interactive stimuli back to
I never quite get there. Thus, the challenges presented by organisms Context Changes Tools it, to sort of “prove” how neat and import-
and computers also differ. Ethologists, scien- ant these digital-behavioral feedback sys-
In general, the prelude goes something tists who study animal behavior in the wild, with the general idea being: tems could be. Part of the whole confer-
like this: want to understand why the animals do what ence, however, is about escaping the time
they do. Engineers, on the other hand, want to We have amazing new tools to play with, crunch of rapidly churning out projects
I want to introduce you to the world and ideas design more powerful ways for computers to but we have to be careful because the and content on a yearly basis, and instead
motivating this research. This work is con- engage with the world. tools change and manipulate us, and we working together to plant a new field for
cerned with two special types of things that should build and these tools in the con- fertile explorations of how creatures and
exist in our world: creatures and computers. Luckily ,we can use creatures and computers text where they will be used. computers can intertwine and thrive.
to study each other. ------
They share many important similarities. Both or perhaps the shortest version I am truly This year has been very hard.
are able to sense and record things happening Computers’ behavioral abilities can help us looking for is simply: In other people’s words, I “threw my
around them in the world. They can also both interact with and examine animals.Learning entire academic career down the toilet.”
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This book is dedicated to the memory of Kitty Kelly, co-founder of
Dinalab’s mother, Harriet Kelly, mushroom hunter extraordinaire.

Kitty and I moved our entire lives across mushrooms. We would talk excitedly
the world out of Singapore. I developed about when she would visit us soon in
a deep paranoia of the governments Panama, and all the birds and creatures
we had to interact with between Sin- she would love, and the canopy towers
gapore, the USA, and our new home in we would bring her to.
Panama. I was worried we would mess
up some paperwork and have our bank What a treat I got to have such a neat
accounts confiscated, or our visas would person for my mother-in-law. Losing
be revoked from a place where we just her was hard and sad, and even worse for
dumped our life savings into a jungle Kitty, her daughter. Then suddenly we
house in a country where we are tech- had 100+ people who were going to be
nically only still “tourists.” I worried we coming to our house for a month.
wouldn’t be able to make enough mon-
ey to cover our mortgage and the house We made it through, but are still recov-
would get taken anyway. I was terrified ering from all this chaos, madness, and
this was all an insane thing to do. sadness. This year was supposed to be
about finally living the dream: starting up
Then, while Dinacon approached and our own incredible jungle lab. But when
heightened these feelings that everything you find yourself exhausted, worried,
was going to fall apart at any minute, and sad every day, the dream can turn
Kitty’s mother, Harriet, suddenly and nightmarish. Luckily, Kitty is an incredi-
unexpectly died from brain cancer. Har- bly strong person who dillegently works
riet was my friend, and I had known her to overcome trauma and depression.
for 18 years. I used to help her gardening It’s incredible working with her on this
business as a teenager, hauling plants strange endeavor and healing ourselves
around a yard. I helped her move across so that the dream of Digital Naturalism
the USA to the magical land of Eugene, Laboratories can begin to come true.
Oregon. She took us on wonderful hikes
every time we visited and would make I would like to dedicate this book, these
art out of plants and paint. We would proceedings, to the memory of our be-
wander around intensely green forests, loved friend, Harriet Kelly.
filling up bags of incredibly flavored
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Philosophy cations, and setting up a jungle lab, but I

CONFERENCE PHILOSOPHY + FAQ In the previous Dinacon book, we post- would have been much more miserable.
ed several writings about the motivations
and philosophy behind setting up our Instead, I would like this conference, this
own conference. It boiled down to a deep book, and all of my further publications
ANDREW QUITMEYER dissatisfaction with the exploitative mod- to celebrate what small groups can ac-
Dinacon Co-Founder el pervading academic gatherings, knowl- complish with limited funds and working
edge creation, and sharing. (I reccomend together. We still had no sponsors but we
reading those writings in the free book collectively covered the ~$36,000 USD
from Dinacon 1 we needed to pay the production and
documentation crews while feeding and
In short, academics are being attacked by housing everyone.
short-sighted supervisors willing to dis-
card intellectual integrity and discourse It’s been really tough though, and as Di-
in the name of optimizing baseless met- nacon and Dinalab progress, we will be
rics. The publishing industry then capi- necessarily exploring novel support struc-
talizes on the academic under pressure to tures for conducting hybrid research out-
publish by exploiting the free labor of stu- side the bounds of traditional institutions.
dents and professors, and then charging Frequently Asked Questions
them huge amounts for the privilege of Dinacon is a hot, evolving mess, and what
the work they put in creating the content,
editing, and presenting the work that gets
sold back to the universities.

The published work is generally the re-

sult of taxpayer-funded research, which is
then barred from the public eye by being
locked behind egregious paywalls. The ef-
fect of this is stregthening the divide be-
tween academic research and everyone
else, while also deteriorating the quality
of work being produced in academia.

It’s a gross, viscious cycle. Unfortunately,

it is becoming even worse. The Associa-
tion for Computing Machinery (ACM),
with whom I have published in the past,
joined a coalition of 135+ scientific re-
search and publishing organizations to
write a letter to Trump urging the USA
to block open-access policies for peer-re-
viewed work. [https://newsroom.publishers.

I don’t want to dwell on these illnesses in

academia any longer. After exploring oth-
er possibilities with the First Dinacon, I
tried to stand up for what I thought was
Experiment led by Michal Salhaf to visualize right, and I torched my career. I could
the light poliarization abilities of cellulose have written dozens of HCI and design
papers in the time I spent putting on these
(Photograph by A. Quitmeyer)
two conferences, editing their free publi-
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basic rules there are still shift and change ipants who will provide you with written
in subtle ways based on past experience. (or video, or any kind of non-ephemeral )
For instance, in Dinacon 1, the third rule feedback about your project. For instance,
was to review two other people’s projects, you can get someone to agree to send you
but this proved a bit too confusing for an email, give you a handwritten note, or
folks. This year, the rule was tweaked to film a video impression of their feedback,
make the person with the project hunt and give it to you. We want to make sure
down two reviewers for theirs. that you get the most out of your sur-
roundings and people there to help refine
What are the official rules of the confer- your projects. We also want to help you
ence? not get overwhelmed, which is why the
feedback you get must be in some form
1. You must complete something. that you can review at a later time, per-
Aim big, aim small- just figure out a task haps when you have left Dinacon and can
for yourself that you can commit to that reflect in a more relaxed manner.
you can accomplish during your time at
the conference. It can be any format you Following our very basic rules ensures that
want: sculpture, a movie, a poem, a fin- everyone going to the conference comes
gerpainting, a journal article – you just away with a finished project in hand that
have to finish it! has been reviewed by amazing experts
you got to co-habitate with.
2. Document it openly.
You need to document what you made Any other rules? and they love eating your banana peels. lective wisdom of past Smithsonian Sci-
and share it with our group at the confer- 4. You need to stay at the conference for at Also, if you are filling out a form that is entists.
ence (even if it means just sharing your least four (4) consecutive nights. checking to see if you actually read the
article you wrote, or taking a photo of the FAQ, the word “Agoutis” is functioning as How can I get WIFI or Cellphone data?
thing). Everything will be made open- 5. Be nice to all humans and non-humans a bit of a shibboleth. So if you see the word It’s pretty easy. We have 100mbps fiber
source and publicly accessible! At a min- “Agoutis” appear somewhere, you should optic internet at both the Dinacon venue
imum, this just means publishing a post What is “Agoutis?” check it. (And also read this whole page!) as well as Dinalab! If you want personal
on our Wordpress. Agoutis are these wonderful, strange crea- data service on your phone, you can get
tures that lope around Gamboa. When How come it isn’t free anymore???? a SIM card at the airport for like $50 per
3. Get written feedback on your project (x2). they get scared, their butt hair puffs up Last year we were able to make the regis- month/ $20 per week of somewhat un-
You need to find at least two other partic- (because they are related to porcupines), tration free because Andy used the per- limited service, or if you stop by Albrook
sonal money from his job to cover a large Mall, you can get a SIM card for like $5 a
amount of expenses (~$10K). But now he week or $20 a month. Digicel and Claro
quit that job, and he has a new mortgage both seem to work well in Gamboa.
on the Dinalab. So money is a lot tighter!
Whoops! What is the food like?
This year we are hiring full time, local
Luckily, we worked hard to minimize chefs to make all our meals (It’s actually
costs, and still have one of the cheapest a service bundled with the housing cost).
conferences to attend! Most of the money We get 3 meals per day. They will serve
you will spend will just cover your hous- all meals buffet style, and the food will be
ing and food. vegetarian with a meat option.
Are there options for special needs foods?
What is Gamboa like? That being said, if you have special di-
It’s a magical, strange little town crawling etary constraints, you might want to stop
with fun animals and weird scientists. You at the grocery store and pick up your own
can learn more about Gamboa on our Lo- supplies to supplement your diet.
cation description page, and also if you
want a deep dive on Gamboa knowledge, We will also be trying (but can’t promise)
you can check out this document of col- to use some of the food fee to help sup-

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plement the meals with some extra basic be minimal and shared. Likely dorm- before coming. We haven’t really had any Documentation
staples and interesting additions. style housing with bedrooms holding 3-8 problems before, so help us keep up our
people. It will also be in the tropics which tradition of being friendly and nice. What’s this rule that everything has to be
Do I need to pack in all my own food? means hot, damp, full of biting things, and open-sourced and shared?
Probably not! You can if you want! There beautiful luxurious nature! Full descrip- Groups As good scientists, artists, and technolo-
is a little “tienda” (shop) in town where tion of our accommodations will be here: I am part of a group or team, and I was gists, we know that all work builds off the
you can get basic food, and there are gro- accepted, but I am the only one who works of others. Therefore, our goal is to
cery stores leading in to town, but Gam- housing/ filled out any forms or paid any deposits. expand humanity’s collective knowledge
boa itself has minimal food offerings. Hey great for you! You have a spot at Din- and not limit it. For this reason, a key rule
That is why we are hiring a chef to make Costs acon! Any of these other random folks do at our conference is that everyone’s proj-
meals. If you have special needs for your not though. ects have to be publicly shared.
food, you may need to supplement with a So how much is it going to cost me to go
run to the grocery store. We have spaces to this conference? Oh, how do I get the rest of my group in I wanted to use the conference as a writ-
to store your extra food for special food There is a sliding scale, and we are still Dinacon? ing retreat to write articles and get them
needs folks. working out the exact costs, but a typical Well, you need to have talked with us and reviewed in preparation for submitting
person’s costs will be about $68 per day, gotten it approved by us, but then also im- to different journals or conferences.
I want to cook all the time and use the or $340 for a 5 day stay including hous- portantly filled out all the forms and paid Won’t sharing my article prohibit me
kitchen! Can I??? ing and meals! This is cheaper than just fees for every single person in the team. from publishing in these other places?
At the main housing facility, the kitchen the cost of most hotel stays at most con- Kids and Families Nope, you can just share what you are
will be off-limits, because it will be in use ferences! Full breakdown of costs is avail- working on as a “pre-publication,” which
full time by the staff preparing everyone’s able on this page: https://www.dinacon. I have a child that is super amazing and is some sort of loophole that lots of these
meals. You will be free to use the Dinalab org/2019/01/01/costs/ brilliant, can I send them to your confer- publishers don’t seem to mind!
kitchen though! ence?
Heirarchy Sorry, this conference is meant for auton- What Types of Participants?
Will I be able to bring my own tent/ham- omous individuals and groups to interact I don’t consider myself a field biologist,
mock and camp? What’s with all this “node leader” and with each other. Everyone is entirely re- an artist, or an engineer. Can I still come?
Yes! Though it is the rainy season. We also “chair” nonsense? All people should just sponsible for themselves, and thus we can Totally, of course! You can be whatever
have limited camping spots. You will still be people! Down with Hierarchies! only admit persons 18 years old and up. you want, no experience required, just
have to pay for registration and the food Our entire conference exists to create in- have an interest in any aspects of these
fee. teresting creative spaces. The “node lead- I, a person over 18 years old, have a fam- areas!
ers” are just people who have been work- ily that I want to come with me. Some of
Is this conference going to be rough? Will ing with us who are carrying the extra my family joining me is under 18. Can I’m a biologist, but I usually work in the
I have to live outside in a deadly jungle responsibility of hosting a public work- we come? laboratory, not in the field. Should I still
the whole time? shop or event with the rest of you at Dina- Yes! Each person needs to have filled out try to come?
Just like the previous Dinacon, we tried to con. The “chairs” are just the folks spend- an application so we have a valid head- Totally, of course! Take the cool things
set up our location to accommodate peo- ing all their free time during the rest of count, and you should register your group you know and do in the lab, and come try
ple of various adventurousnesses. the year organizing this thing for you. No- as a team. Importantly, note that you will them out in the field with us!
body is “above” anybody else, some folks be ENTIRELY responsible for not only
It takes place in a cute little town near a have just been working along with us for yourselves but also any individuals un- I’m an artist without much experience in
jungle, and you don’t really have to even a while and took on extra responsibilities der 18 that are in your care (i.e. I’m sorry science or technology stuff, but i’m in-
step foot into the forest if you don’t want to help give you an awesome experience! to say we cannot provide any babysitting terested in exploring it more in the wild
to. You can choose your level of out- services). We have had families come to with you. Should I try to come?
doorsy-ness for your stay: live in a fancy So if nobody is in charge, I can just do the previous Dinacon, and it was great! Totally, of course! We will love combining
hotel room at the Gamboa Rainforest re- whatever I want and be mean to people your talents with all the other interesting
sort, stay in some dorms with us, live in and mess up the place! Ok cool, so I have my kid with me. stuff going on!
a tent in the backyard, or go live in the The only basic hierarchy we have is that if What do I need to do for them registra-
deep forest for the whole time - it’s up you become a problem to the conference tion-wise? I am really into food, should I come?
to you! Note that you are responsible for or the local community, we reserve the They will be just treated as another mem- Yes! Food seems to be an amazing topic
your own safety and comfort. So do not right to boot you out of the conference ber of your team! So fill out a form for ev- that elegantly ties together many of our
sign up for a camping spot unless you are without any kind of refund. Just be nice, ery under-18-year-old (and mark them as big concepts at Dinacon. It merges craft,
prepared for rough, jungly, rainy nights. and respect the people and places around part of your group on the welcome form), science, and technology in a visceral, ev-
What are the accommodations like? you, and you will be fine! We have a post- pay a deposit for all of them, and pay the eryday experience.
We are still working on them. They will ed code of conduct you will need to sign fees for all of them.
A-82 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 A-83
I’m an engineer working with computers to make totally random decisions. Also,
or electronics, I’ve never been outside, we try to work in as many people from
but I want to try it out with you, should the waiting list as possible. So if you get
I come? denied, we apologize, but please don’t at-
(are you starting to notice a pattern) To- tack us! This is just a fun thing we are try-
tally, of course! ing to do for people!

I’m a jerk, and I’m real mean to people, You are trying to put on a nice event for
and I don’t care about the environment, people to join together and learn about
should I try to come? new ways of interacting with nature, so is
-ugghhhh i guess probably not? everything perfect and happy and flaw-
less about your conference?
Misc Totally not. Any kind of large event has to
I am upset that you didn’t choose my ap- navigate tons of socio-economic difficul-
plication to join dinacon. I hate you. I am ties. We are trying our best to include as
going to keep writing you mean emails. many different, amazing people as possi-
Well, that’s not nice. There are many ble, but we will of course make mistakes,
reasons people don’t get in to Dinacon. and not always be able to faciliate every-
We have limited space, logistical issues, thing that would be great. But we are re-
and plain old human error. Plus, it’s just ally trying.
straight up random. There are so many
unique applicants, and we have to make Won’t this conference involve people
some decisions about who can make it flying from all over the world, leading
from a pool of talented people we don’t to the release of lots of greenhouse gases
know. At many points, this means we have and increasing the toll on our earth?
Yeah. Unfortunately so like most other
international conferences of academics.
The longevity of the conference aims to
help keep folks in place longer than most
conferences though (where people zip in
and out for a couple days). Our philosophy
highly prizes the unique experiences you
can only get while being immersed in a
particular place. Thus we have minimum
stays to make sure people actually get to
experience the incredible wonders they
are privileged to experience first hand.

An eventual goal of this conference is to

also hopefully spawn lots of “Digital Nat-
uralism” conferences in a similar style
around the world, where people can rent
out some land and invite people to live
and work in a more localized fashion.

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While Dinacon strives to be as free-form and partic-

ipant-driven as possible, we tried to work with the
participants to help arrange events.

Borrowing from the model of PIFcamp, where they

have a final, public exhibition day at the end of their
week, we had 4 “Open days” (actually 5!) which
worked as times for sharing work with the pub-
lic, and also as an artificial deadline to help people
wrap up their projects.

Participants also visited cultural events and centers

in Panama City, gave talks in local community cen-
ters, went on hiking expeditions, gave performances,
and staged exhibitions in the wild.

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A rogue plant-controlled DRONEBORG takes
off to the skies. Does it indicate future harmony
for both flesh and metal, or does it spell annihi-
Scenes from Dinalab’s open day in the Gallery.
lation? (Part of David Bowen’s drone projects)

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Contextual Crafting: Michal Sahaf casts silicone
forms in nature while Craig Durkin explores the area
with a mountain bike.
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(Above) Scientist Hannah Marti brings a group on a tour of her Leaf Cutter experiements

(Below) Emily Volk takes her water color painting to the source and uses the water itself to de-
pict the jungle waterfall

Jonas Kramer leads a welding work-

shop at Dinalab.

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Marta Verde 3D prints her own cast for
a hand injured in the jungle.

Special guests and neighbors come for

the final Open House of Dinacon

Ashlin deploys an underwater camera to

monitor the caiman overnight

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ANDY QUITMEYER’S WONDERFULLY WEIRD WORLD Originally published 30 June 2019 in Makery
by Cherise Fong.
tions, but cynically, it seems like mostly
what happens is people just go through
OF DIGITAL NATURALISM and check the boxes. We would only meet up, like, once a year, and then we
digital-naturalism-hacking-et-vie-sau- would all just kind of work in our own
CHERISE FONG vage-selon-andy-quitmeyer/ compartments. Also somewhat cynically,
MAKERY: MEDIA FOR LABS it seemed like there wasn’t much fund-
For those who don’t know Andy, his titles ing available for doing just basic science.
may sound intimidating. The Digital This was my first encounter with this,
Naturalism Conference (a.k.a Dinacon) is and the more I worked there, the more I
In the lead-up to the Second Digital Nat- actually a spoof on the stuffy posturing really understood the limits of what our
academic conference—a hands-on, out- technology was capable of in this type of
uralism Conference in Gamboa, Panama, door summer camp that gathers anyone collaboration.
Makery spoke with instigator Andy Quit- who’s into art-tech-science-nature to
connect, create and collaborate in the The other low-hanging fruit was that we
meyer about the origins of Dinacon, Dinal- jungle. Digital Naturalism Laborato- could actually be helping these field bi-
ries (a.k.a Dinalab) is actually his newly ologists out. There are a lot of challenges
ab, and the whole DiNa movement. acquired two-story house in Gamboa, that the field biologists have, but what
Panama that he and his partner are pro- is sexy and what gets funded are things
gressively renovating into an open media that are much more difficult or basically
lab, makerspace and art-tech residency. impossible to do—versus the things they
might actually need right now on the
Dr. Andrew Quitmeyer, PhD—a digital ground that could change their whole
media expert, industrial engineer, docu- field work and save them months of time
mentary filmmaker, award-winning de- doing basic tasks. We weren’t helping
signer, and ex-professor at the National them with that, instead we were doing
University of Singapore—is a true adven- these big moonshot kind of things.
turer who explores interactions between
wild animals and computational devices; So the beginning of this Digital Natural-
who has led multidisciplinary activities, ism stuff was: How can digital interactive
workshops and Hiking Hacks to bring technology support field biologists’ val-
DIY electronics into raw nature in the ues of working in the field, being with
U.S., Panama, Philippines, Madagascar, their animals, interacting with them and
China, Cambodia, Thailand, Turkey, Ec- studying their behaviors in natural en-
uador, the Galapagos and beyond; whose vironments? Instead of “What technol-
research inspired the television series ogy can we shove out there?” looking at
Hacking the Wild… as well as a friendly, “What are the values of field biology and
down-to-earth guy with a clear vision for how can tech support that?”
our harmonious and sustainable future,
interacting with non-human creatures in It’s also an exercise in design and
the forest. co-evolving a new medium that we have,
along with the oldest medium that we
What was the original spark for Digital have. What really fascinates me is that,
Naturalism? of all the things that we have in the uni-
It all started when I was working in a ro- verse, there are only two things that can
botics lab that was paired up with a biol- do behaviors: creatures and comput-
ogy lab. They were studying ants. They ers. Nothing else can actually take an
would get a grant to hire this robotics input, process it somehow, respond to
lab to help do computer vision for their that input and create new stimuli in that
ants and stuff like that. I was working on environment. So I see this really lovely
the robotics side, and I just felt kind of interplay that can happen if we put dif-
disappointed—there’s all this pressure ferent living creatures and connect these
for interdisciplinary work and collabora- senses and actions they can do with the
Pipeline Road at daybreak. © Cherise Fong
Gamboa, Panama 2019 A-97
of, like, the size of this ant, or the angle
of this tree, or just the way that the forest
works, is way different than the actuali-
ty of it. So one of the things that we see
with people who haven’t had as much
field experience is: they’ll often come in
with a whole bunch of ideas, and they’ll
get all prepared and be set on this one
specific idea: “This is the idea, I’m gonna
go into the forest, I’m gonna deploy it,
it’s gonna be great.” And over and over
again, the most common thing on every
single Hiking Hack, myself included, is
just in those first 5 seconds when you pull
Dinalab’s open garage workshop while out the thing that you’ve been thinking
it was being renovated. about for months, and you’re like: “Oh
wait a second, this might not work…”
senses and actions of digital things that
we create to make these dynamic sorts of On the very first Hiking Hack, we had a
interactions. little laboratory on some trees, like, over
there. Then over here was a creek where
That will help us understand more about we were trying to test something with
the design of living creatures as well as the ants between a couple of trees. Even
how to design our computers to be more in the gap of going between our little lab
robust, more interesting, more fascinat- bench over here to between these trees
ing, and really pushing the bounds of just a couple feet away, you would be
what our digital behaviors can be like— thinking, “I’m gonna fill this thing and it’s
other than this version where there are gonna fit between these trees,” then you
more digital slaves, where we command go over there and you’re like, “Oh wait,
absolutely what they want to do. In some in my mind it’s just two perpendicular
way, I want to free the computers to trees and then it goes across, but actually
make them a little more wild themselves. one has this weird root, so now I have to
carve this and fit it in better…” So it was
A good way to do that is to stop exclu- interesting to see how even over a short
sively designing for human-centric distance, your brain simplifies everything
things—starting with just the basics of that you’re looking at when you’re think-
designing something that works with ing about all these other aspects of it.
some non-human creature’s concepts of
time, space, interactions with the physi- It’s super useful to have that feedback
cal world, and communicating with them from the environment. The whole reason
in some other spectrum or way that we’re that we started doing the Hiking Hacks
not used to. It really changes your idea of was that we would be in a laboratory in
design of what these things can be built Gamboa, Panama, and the forest would
to do and how they can interact and play be a couple kilometers from where we
with the world. were doing our research. So many times,
we were building a new ant agitation
So what happens when you bring the device, then we’d drive all the way out
tech lab into the jungle? there and realize, “Oh wait, this doesn’t
The thing we notice most when doing fit on the tree, or these sensors are in the
these outdoor labs is, and this even ap- wrong place to look at the ants,” and then
we’d drive back. So more and more we Television set found in the Chagres river and repainted
plies to people with even more field ex-
perience, that you’re constantly remind- were like, screw this, let’s just bring the by Jesse outside Dinalab. © Cherise Fong
ed about how much your brain’s models whole lab out there!

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How did your experiences at other end of PIFcamp, they would have this want to do and they come gradually, like about. We wanted something that was
camps inspire the Hiking Hacks and the open day where people from the com- “I figured out this piece, then I figured going to be right next to and preferably
Digital Naturalism Conference? munity could come in and check out all out this piece, then that piece…” But then embedded in an interesting natural envi-
the weird different stuff that people had sometimes I’ll have ideas and it just all ronment that we could do research with.
Signal Fire is the closest I came to doing been working on. PIFcamp also had a comes at once, like boom, fully formed, We wanted something that we could
my first proto Hiking Hack in Panama in dedicated documentation team, so I got Athena out of Zeus’s head: This is what afford, a place that also had decent inter-
summer 2014. I was in between field sea- to see people going around saying “Hey, should happen, this is what should be on national accessibility, so that if we had
sons, chatting with friends: “All this lab we see you’re doing a project, we’ll help Earth. The Digital Naturalism stuff came events like Dinacon, people could actu-
work we’re doing, let’s try to do it on an you collect footage about it.” It was help- to me that way. ally make their way down here. We were
expedition while we’re moving around ful to see fully in action. looking at quite a few different places,
and see if it can be done.” Then I heard Originally, I thought I was going to be talking to people in Indonesia, Canada,
about Signal Fire, where they were doing So at the end of PIFcamp, I just declared able to expand my PhD thesis and do my also looking at visa requirements.
art out in the wild during their backpack- that we were going to have Dinacon research as an academic with my fancy
ing trips. I thought that was super cool, somewhere in the world in the next year. professor job, doing design and art and The thing that really won out for us was
so I joined up for a 9-day trip in April That everyone at PIFcamp was invited, field biology and behavioral ecology kind that we didn’t have that many resources
2014. I was really just testing how much and it was going to be free. This was even of stuff all at once. But the more I inter- of our own, so by moving to Gamboa,
stuff I could carry, does it make sense to before we had decided where it was go- acted with academia, the more I got in- where the Smithsonian Tropical Re-
actually do soldering out in the wild, all ing to be, anything like that. I was just so credibly jaded, especially seeing it from search Institute (STRI) has their institute
these questions I had no idea about. blown away by PIFcamp: If they can do a professor point of view: how much plugged into the nature and all the weird
this, we can do this! Then when I came energy was directed toward completely cool stuff around here as well as the com-
Signal Fire was also super cool in that back to Singapore right after that in Au- pointless endeavors that were often pull- munities, we could piggyback off of that.
they build in social discussions and dif- gust 2017, I met up with [Dinacon co-or- ing energy away from doing things that That was the key deciding factor for us.
ferent kinds of activism concepts along ganizer] Tasneem Khan. can actually help people, help the envi- There’s a vibrant community already in
with the nature that you’re roaming ronment, or even just learn about stuff. place here that we already have a good
around and exploring, along with the But the Digital Naturalism Conference amount of connections with and that we
creation of different kinds of art projects also came from this real frustration with So doing Dinacon was great, but it could plug into. Also not a lot of industri-
and things that you’re doing with your- the way that conferences work in aca- opened my eyes even more to “screw al tools and centers available, so a niche
self out there. So that was very inspiring, demia, where the whole point is sup- this, let’s just start our own whole re- that we could fill in that doesn’t really ex-
trying to expand the scope or just not posed to be to get people together in a search facility. Just by ourselves.” So me ist here yet. So far it’s going pretty good.
limit the scope, have all these tentacles unique place and have them exchange and my partner Kitty, we pooled our
of technology and the environment and ideas. Instead, everybody hurriedly money. She was being incredibly sup- In terms of the actual scientific commu-
human social relations always perme- spends lots of money on hotels to be portive, because she was being a free- nity, I’ve been decently plugged in. My
ating each other, because we can’t just next to each other, while you check off lance artist in Singapore, having a great relationship with STRI has been a bit of a
ignore them. the requirements for being able to add time there, but she could tell how much continuation of my PhD, where I’m still
an extra line to your CV, so when you go it was just killing me working at this job. bouncing around and trying to help peo-
The next big influence was going to PIF- up for tenure you can say, “Yes, I had 6 It had always been my “master plan” that ple out, but more of a powered-up ver-
camp. It was Marc Dusseiller [the man and 6 is more than 3, so I’m doing good,” when I’m 50, then I’ll quit everything sion. Now instead of just telling someone
behind Hackteria] who connected me or something like that. That was one of and then maybe I’ll have my own field about this thing, I can say, come back to
with Marko Peljhan [the man behind the reasons we put on Dinacon: I can station, then I’ll go gung ho and do this. my lab, we’re gonna build it right now.
Makrolab], and they invited me to do use my savings from 10% of my salary She said, screw that, just do this now. That’s been really satisfying.
some workshops up there in 2017. That for one year’s work, which is the cost of Which was awesome. I’m super grateful
was what really helped me make the not going to two academic conferences, that she pushed me to make this decision So what’s next in Digital Naturalism?
bridge from Hiking Hacks, which were rent out this whole facility and get a lot too. She could see how driven I was to- This is the whole big plan: Step 1 is to
more one-off singular events with a of people there for two months to have ward this thing. If we can try to pull it off get fancy, so that fancy people take your
small group of 10-12 people. I saw how all kinds of amazing conversations and now, she thought it was worth it and I did weird-ass shit seriously. So for me the
PIFcamp could put on a very loosely build stuff and do things. too, even though it’s absolutely terrify- getting fancy was getting a PhD. Step 2
organized thing that was still super suc- ing. is to channel stuff into infrastructure for
cessful and super productive with peo- How did you decide to finally quit your doing it, get it set up. Phase 3 is to have it
ple from many different backgrounds job as a professor and set up your own Why in Gamboa? really thriving. So my goal with Dinalab
working with each other between the permanent Digital Naturalism Labora- When we decided to leave, we were try- here is that it begins taking on a life of its
interesting natural environment and the tories in Panama? ing to look around at different places, own. We’ve already started having some
cool tech stuff they brought. Also just When I was doing my PhD, sometimes weighing the pros and cons, there were a artist residencies and tech residencies
having a great time. Things like at the people would have ideas about what they lot of different factors we were thinking here, but having that become more of

A-100 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 A-101
an established thing, where other peo- Honestly, I don’t even care as much
ple who were kind of like me working in about this certain view of science as this
these different areas of art tech or design progressive march toward more facts; I
can be lured down here and driven in- don’t really care that much about how
sane in wonderful ways by all the amaz- much data we can accumulate from this
ing wildlife and creatures and strange in- thing. Instead, I want people to accumu-
teractions that people are learning about late interactions with things that aren’t
them right in their backyard. So part of human. I want them to build relation-
that is luring people down here to infect ships with the non-human environ-
them with cool jungle love. ment that surrounds them. That’s the
true endgame there. Then let’s say in 20
Next is having this place being able to years, everyone is a weird cyber jungle
maybe drum up enough consulting work punk wandering around in a wonderful
and design work with scientists that we utopian paradise… and all of our forests
can actually hire people full-time, so that still exist!
we can have paid positions where people
could come down here and work for a
year developing three-dimensional maz-
es that bats can fly through, that we can
sense and install right in the jungle. Ide-
ally that happens in five years, we’ll see.

But then, the Digital Naturalism infec-

tion keeps spreading! Then I would love
to be able to have this place as a model
of a pure blend of art-science-design
existing harmoniously and sustainably in
and surrounded by a cool natural area,
so that then we can start explaining this
model to other places around. So ideal-
ly, within 10 years’ time, I would love to
have three other Dinalabs around that
we can also try to help run, and develop
these amazing, cool communities of in-
teresting naturalists who wander around 3D models of leaves of Gamboa, by To-
and become curious and develop tools mas. He scanned selected leaves and
to spark their own curiosity when they’re plants from around the village to place
out in the forest, and also tools to start
answering some of the questions of their
their avatars in surrealist digital land-
curiosity. scapes. - Cherise Fong

So that’s the eventual endgame of this.

Some people are like: Is this tech for
field biologists? Or making art from field
biology stuff? Really, the endgame is dis-
solving any of these distinctions and just
a) making people love the non-human
stuff going on around them, and b) hav-
ing them have the agency to craft what-
ever tools, to program whatever things
they have, to help encourage this curi-
osity and empathy and interactions with Cryptozoological creature captured in
things that exist around them. Gamboa, by Amit Zoran and Ayelet Sella
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Nighttime collaborative Jungle Interface

(Photo by A. Gabo)
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In my first days at Dinacon, I helped Jay I have been making and selling Pulse

Falk to measure Hummingbird Heart- Sensor, an optical heart rate monitor,
beats with PulseSensor. Jay is a scientist since 2012. There happen to be a cou-
who studies hummingbirds in Gamboa, ple of Pulse Sensors at Dinalab, and so
Panama. It was recently discovered that very soon after I arrived at Dinacon, I
JOEL MURPHY hummingbirds (some, not all?) can vo- got together with Jay to try and see if
@biomurph calize (make sounds) up to 15KHz. At the we could find a hummingbird heartbeat
same time, it is generally believed that with Pulse Sensor.
birds can only hear sounds up to 8KHz. The Pulse Sensor uses the principle of
Jay wants to know if hummingbirds can Photoplethysmography (PPG) to mea-
hear in the higher registers that they sure heart beats. An LED is used to shine
make sounds in. a light into capillary tissue (fingertip or
earlobe, e.g.), and then a sensor reads
His thought is that maybe the birds the reflected light as it changes intensity
heart rate changes when they hear an- when your heart beats.
other bird call, and that if he can mea-
sure heart rate this might be a way to
prove that they can hear in the higher Hummingbirds have a couple of ‘bald
registers. spots’ where feathers don’t grow. Typi-

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cally, most birds don’t have feathers on tion. This trace is an example of the typ-
their lower abdomen in order to make ical PPG waveform we were looking for.
a good connection to their eggs when
incubating them. Also, hummingbirds We did see a signal when we placed the
have no feathers right behind their crop Pulse Sensor on the belly bald spot.
on the back of their heads. We decided However, it was difficult to tell if we were
we would try both of those spots. reading the heartbeat or the breathing.
Placing the Pulse Sensor on the bald
I used two Pulse Sensors. One was just spot behind the crop was much more
a normal Pulse Sensor, and the other I successful, and we think we did see a
modified by taking off the LED. I did this heartbeat in that location. The BPM val-
in order to test a reflective Pulse Sen- ue is wacky, because the heart beats so
sor (the way they normally work) and a fast.
transmissive Pulse Sensor, where I used
the light from the normal Pulse Sensor Here’s a link to the repo for the hum-
to send a signal through the body of the mingbird heartbeat experiment
bird. It became clear very soon that the
reflective Pulse Sensor was the best op- con_Hummingbird_Heartbeats

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Hummingbirds are adored for their it’s super janky -- lots of glued parts that
ability to defy imagination in beau- fall off all the time, and we need to make
COLIBRE ty and physical ability. Despite this, we
know little about their behavior in the
constant repairs. We leave these feed-
ers outside for months, so maintaining
wild. Why is this the case? Ornithology them is a major time and data sink.
JAY FALK AND ANDREW QUITMEYER was revolutionized decades ago with the
Open Source Hummingbird Feeder use of small color bands that could be But what if we could just make the per-
safely placed on the legs of birds, allow- fect feeder to house RFID loggers? Ide-
ing them to be reidentified without re- ally, an RFID feeder should have a place
capture. This was impossible for hum- to protect the circuit board while also
mingbirds – their feet are super tiny locking the antenna into the perfect ori-
and can barely be seen even when they entation while also being nice and easy
decide to sit still for a second. to clean. The feeding hole should be
perfectly sized to allow birds to feed but
Tiny, glass-coated RFID tags offer a po- also exclude pesky topical bees. I pitched
tential way around the problem. These some ideas to Andy, and we talked about
chips can be safely implanted just under what might be possible with the 3D
their skin, and they last the lifetime of printers in his jungle lab. The idea was
the bird without affecting their behav- to use the nectar container (basically
ior. When a logger senses the presence just a bottle with a wide mouth for easy
of one of these tags, it can log the bird’s cleaning) from a commercial feeder but
ID along with all sorts of cool automat- replace the base with a fancy 3D printed
ed responses such as taking a photo or version. I wish I could say that I figured
selectively rewarding the bird based on out Fusion 360 and designed and print-
certain criteria. ed the thing during the week I was part
of Dinacon, but really Andy did like 99%
So, for the last two years I’ve been using of it and fixed all the problems I made
RFID loggers (open source design by Eli whenever I tried stuff! Thanks Andy! It
Bridge) to track hummingbird behav- still needs work but we ended up with
iors in the wild. I do this by attaching an- feeder base that actually holds water. It’s
tennae to hummingbird feeders. When super cool and I really hope I get to go
birds comes to visit, they extend their back to Gamboa and work on this in the
neck through the circular antenna to future.
reach the feeding apparatus. If I’ve pre-
viously captured that bird and tagged it,
I can get data on its presence, feed dura-
tion, and location.

The problem is, attaching the loggers

to feeders isn’t trivial. The circuit board
has to be protected from the harsh el-
ements of the tropics (heat, rain, sun-
light), the antenna has to be placed in
just the right orientation to detect the
RFID tags, and it has to be designed in
a way that allows me and my team to
replenish the sugar water when it’s run-
ning low. On top of this, leaving sugar
water out in the tropics attracts insane
numbers of insects, mold, and appar-
ently woodpeckers who love to tear up
the antennae. We’ve developed a way to
alter commercially made feeders, but

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P-112 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-113
During Dinacon, Ashley Zelinskie Stu- will highlight the science and ethics be-

dios developed a new collaboration with hind gene editing and highlight terrifying
the scientists at STRI (Smithsonian Trop- beauty of gene manipulation.
ical Research Institute) focusing on using
CRISPR to edit butterfly wing DNA. The In the past Zelinskie has collaborated
ASHLEY ZELINSKIE research team revealed mutant butterflies with scientists at NASA as well as comput-
and demonstrated the eggs being injected er engineers at Google to produce works
with the gene editing virus. Zelinskie will of art from research conducted at these
work with them in the coming months to institutions. She hopes to produce a new
produce works of art inspired by their re- body of work highlighting the important
search. research being done at STRI in genetics
and biodiversity.
The paper by scientist Carolina Concha
was launched in mid-October 2019 and
data provided by her findings will fea-
ture in the artwork. The body of work

P-114 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-115
Butterfly study by Andromyda Wagenman
Butterfly robot installed in Dinalab Gallery, by Tully in Smithsonian Experimental Cages
Arnot modeled on real butterfly wing imagery. (Photo by A. Gabo)
P-116 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-117
I call my practice Face Nature. It’s a


seasonal and diurnal experimental
practice that allows me to get extreme-
ly close to nature. I put foraged matter
close to my face and hands, never with
MADELINE SCHWARTZMAN decorative intentions. Instead, I explore
human morphology, human sensation,
and the sensorium. The addition of
uncanny plant forms makes an already
uncanny human apparatus even more
strange. Face Nature is about human
beings’ capacity to understand them-
selves. Everything about our sensory
apparatus is a preconceived given. The
introduction of something familiar
with a different rule set allows us to
ask, what if: what if humans and plants
become hybrids? What would this do
to our expression of emotion, to our
facial movement system, to our ability
to absorb light, food and defend against
other creatures? Face Nature is a way of
unlearning—a way of finding questions
to ask.

Because of the foraging requirements

of Face Nature, I can only know so
much before I head to a new site. I
know that I may need structure, link-
ages and assemblage materials, with-
out knowing what I will do with them.
I only know that I will hunt for new
and spectacular plant forms and be-
gin to see what they have to offer the
human body. My native New Yorker
image of the jungle did not do justice
to the real jungle. The Gamboan jun-
gle is unknowable, ungraspable, vast.
One tree holds too much to look at. It’s
overwhelming. Since any living form of
plant is off limits, foraging for Gamboa
Face Nature took place on the streets
after a storm. The rainy season storms
are so fierce, that the streets become
rivers. The jungle deposits spectacular
treats all over the suburban grid. My
first forage was a cecropia leaf. When
they dry up, they morph into lurid
curls and twists. What if a human face
had an infinitely varied landscape?
What if no face had the same contours?
I made a cecropia face and then a ce-
cropia face and dress.

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One plant wearable can hold its own in
NYC. In the jungle it cannot. I knew I
needed a whole chorus of plant inter-
actions. I commandeered the Dinacon
back porch, cleared it out, and went
about making an integrated collection
of constructed and natural forms to
perform. These included a device that
allowed me to control the movement of
long jungle leaves using pulleys, while
simultaneously receiving a motorized
leaf tickle on my face. Palm boughs
formed the substrate for the leaf play-
ing, and chopsticks the lever arms.
During a jungle walk I found a giant
root system that became part of the
collective. I connected onto it moth-
like leaves that I could extend and con-
tract by grasping a set of crisscrossed
levers. The pieces were satisfying by
day, but still not jungle-like enough. I
needed to add color and light. I foraged
a series of magnificent butterfly wings,
including a blue morpho, magnified
them using several different devices
borrowed from Dinosaurs (thanks Blac-
ki, Lee and Julian), edited the video so
that at every moment there was more
than one image (frame within frame),
and projected the microscopic mor-
phology onto the kinetic sculptures at
night. I moved between the hybridized
machines—my own synthetic sensory

P-120 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-121

One of the most basic, widespread, and heavy traffic. Hundreds of videos would
essential measurements taken by ant take several months to analyze.
scientists is counting ants that pass by.
Counting methods vary considerably de- I came to Dinacon for a solution to this
pending on ant traffic, ant size, and the problem - creating a device that can prim-
environment where the ants are walk- itively count ants as they pass by in real
ing. The most difficult situation to count time in the field - and the Ant Count-o-
ants is when there is heavy traffic of tiny matic was born. I used an OpenMV board
ants on a moving or 3-dimensional back- with a built-in camera and a magic arm
ground such as a tree branch. My research clamp. With considerable help from Craig
meets these difficult parameters because Durkin and Jonathan Hefter, I modified
I study colony aggression of Azteca ants the computer vision programs that come
that live in Cecropia trees, and my main with the board to identify blobs (ants) and
metric for aggression is the number of count them as they enter the frame. Af-
ants that emerge from the hollow stem ter a successful test of the Count-o-matic
and pass across the trunk. In the past, I with leafcutters in the lab, I tested it on
have recorded videos of the aggression Azteca ants in Cecropia trees. It certain-
trials and rewatched them later, clicking ly counted ants, but not perfectly. This
manually every time an ant passes into is an exciting prototype that will require
the frame. This process often took longer perfecting, but has the potential to save
than recording the video because I had to me months, even years of counting ants
slow the video down during moments of manually.

P-122 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-123
Dinasaurs gather to look at one of Pe-
ter’s Cecropia Tree- Azteca ant systems
he hopes to automatically study (also
there is a sloth up there)

P-124 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-125

In this project, I created three-dimen- tion by Josh Michaels on my first night

sional sculptural artworks derived from at Dinacon got me thinking more about
the shadows cast by found objects. shadows and what they represent in the
relationships between dimensions. Josh
BACKGROUND showed Carl Sagan’s famous explanation
of the fourth dimension from Cosmos.
I began creating 3D prints through un-
usual processes in 2018, when I used oils Sagan illustrates how a shadow is an im-
to essentially paint a 3D shape. For me, perfect two-dimensional projection of a
this was a fun way to dip my toes into 3D three-dimensional object. I wondered–if
modeling and printing using the skills I all we had was a two-dimensional shad-
already had (painting) rather than those ow, what could we theorize about the
I didn’t (3D modeling). I was very hap- three-dimensional object? If we were the
py with the output of this process (p. 86), inhabitants of Plato’s cave, watching the
which I think lent the 3D model a unique shadows of the world play on the wall,
texture–it wore its paint-ishness proudly, what objects could we fashion from the
with bumpy ridges and ravines born from clay at our feet to reflect what we imag-
brushstrokes. There was an organic qual- ined was out there? What stories could
ity that I didn’t often see in 3D models we ascribe to these imperfectly theorized
fabricated digitally. I immediately began
thinking of other unconventional ways to
arrive at 3D shapes, and cyanotype solar
prints quickly rose to the top of processes
I was excited to try.


My initial goal with this project was sim-

ply to test my theory that I could create
interesting sculpture through the manip-
ulation of shadow. However, a presenta-
P-126 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-127
this case, the lightest parts of the image In the lower solar print on page 84, I laid
become the more raised parts of the 3D a spiralled vine over the top of the oth-
model, and the darker parts become the er objects being printed. Because it was
more recessed parts. For our solar prints, raised off the paper by the other objects,
what this means is that the areas where light leaked in and created a fainter shad-
our objects touched the paper (or at least ow, resulting in a cool background swirl
came very close to it) will be white and in the 3D model. Manipulating objects’
therefore raised, the areas that weren’t distance from the paper proved to be an
forms? When early humans saw the night SOME INTERESTING OBJECTS
shaded at all by our objects will become effective method to create foreground/
sky, we couldn’t see the three-dimen-
dark and therefore recessed, and the areas background separation in the final 3D
sional reality of space and stars–we saw a The areas that are more shaded by our ob-
that are shaded but which some light can model.
two-dimensional tapestry from which we jects stay white, and the areas that the sun
leak into around the objects will be our In the top picture on page 84, you can see
theorized three-dimensional creatures, hits become a darker blue. Note that the
mid-tones, and will lead to some smooth the objects to be solar printed, before I
heroes, villains, conflicts, and passions. solar print that results from three-dimen-
graded surfaces in the 3D model. laid the spiralled vine on the other objects
We looked up and saw our reflection. sional objects like these rambutans have
and exposed the paper.
What does a rambutan shadow become some midtones that follow their curves,
*I used Photoshop for this process, but if
without the knowledge of a rambutan, because though they cast hard shadows,
you have a suggestion for a free program Another variable that I manipulated to
with instead the innate human impulse to some light leaks in from the sides. The
that can do the same, please contact me. create different levels in the 3D model was
project meaning and personality and sto- closer an object gets to the solar paper,
I’d like for this process to be accessible to exposure time. The fainter leaves coming
ry upon that which we cannot fully com- the more light it blocks. This effect will
as many people as possible. into the lower solar print on the next page
prehend? That’s what I became excited to make a big difference in how these prints
weren’t any father from the solar paper
explore with this project. But first, how to translate to 3D models.
Below, you can play around with some 3D than the other leaves, but I placed them
make the darn things?
models alongside the solar prints from after the solar print had been exposed for
which they were derived. Compare them a couple of minutes. This made their re-
to see how subtle variations in the lumi- sulting imprint fainter/darker, and there-
nance information from the 2D image fore more backgrounded than the leaves
For those who want to try this at home,
has been translated into depth informa- that had been there for the duration of the
I have written a detailed How To about For those unfamiliar with depth maps,
tion to create a 3D model. exposure. You can also see where some of
the process on my website. But the basic essentially the software* interprets the lu-
the leaves moved during the exposure, as
workflow I followed was this: minance data of a pixel (how bright it is) they have a faint double image that cre-
as depth information. Depth maps can be
ates a cool “step” effect in the 3D model.
STEP 1: MAKE A SOLAR PRINT OF used for a variety of applications, but in
P-128 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-129
plain these problems and how to fix them I was attempting to make some unusual
in greater detail in the How To page for “canvasses” for painting, I ended up rep-
this process. licating the rectangular characteristics
of traditional painting surfaces, which
STEP 4: PAINT THE 3D PRINT seems particularly egregious when mod-
eling irregular organic shapes. Creating
Now we get back to my musings about Pla- non-rectangular pieces will require mak-
to’s cave. My goal in the painting stage was ing prints that capture the entire perime-
You might also notice that the 3D model a solid black surface.
to find meaning and story in this extrapo- ter of the objects’ shadows without cutting
(see website) has more of a texture than
lation of 3D forms from a 2D projection. them off. I can then tell the software to
the others on this page. That comes from The solar print [on the facing page - ed.]
As of this writing I have only finished one “drop out” the negative space. I have al-
the paper itself, which is a different brand was made later in the day–notice the long
of these paintings, Death of the Patriarchs ready made some prints that I think will
than I used for the others. The paper shadows. It was also in the partial shade
(2019), pictured on page 86. Also pictured work well for this, I’ll update the How To
texture creates slight variations in lumi- of a tree, so the bottom left corner of the
is the priming of the PLA print with an page once I 3D model them.
nance which translate as bump patterns print darkens. If you turn the 3D model
absorbent ground.
in the model. You run into a similar effect to its side you’ll see how that light falloff
– Build a custom solar printing rig to al-
with camera grain–even at high ISOs, the results in a thinning of the model. I also
low for more flexibility in constructing
slight variation in luminance from pixel took this photo before the print had fully
FUTURE DIRECTIONS interesting prints. A limitation of this pro-
to pixel can look very pronounced when developed the deep blue it would even-
cess was that I wanted to create complex
translated to 3D. I discuss how to manage tually reach, and that lack of contrast re-
– Carve the models out of wood with a and delicate compositions of shadows but
this in the How To page for this process. sults in the faint seedpod in the bottom
CNC milling machine to reduce plastic it was hard to not disturb the three-di-
( left not differentiating itself much from
use. I actually used PLA, which is derived mensional objects when moving between
a726-4b35-8ae5-768f454a76a2/editor/ the background in the 3D model. I found
from corn starch and is biodegradable the composition and exposure phases.
sculpting-shadows-2019#) that these prints could take a couple days
under industrial conditions, but is still My general process in this iteration of
to fully “develop.”
not ideal. This will also allow me to go the project was to arrange the objects on
One more neat thing about this one is
BIGGER with the sculptural pieces, which a piece of plexiglass on top of an opaque
that I made the print on top of a folder STEP 3: 3D PRINT THE MODEL
wouldn’t be impossible with 3D printing card on top of the solar print. This allowed
that had a barcode on it, and that reflected
but would require some tedious labor to me time to experiment with arrangements
back enough light through the paper that The 3D models that Photoshop spits out
bond together multiple prints. of the objects, but the process of pulling
it came out in the solar print and the 3D through this process can sometimes have
the opaque card out to reveal the print in-
model (in the bottom right). After I no- structural problems that a 3D printer
– Move away from right angles! Though evitably disrupted the objects and then I
ticed this I started exposing my prints on doesn’t quite know how to deal with. I ex-
P-130 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-131
would have to scramble to reset them as also thought maybe a busy leafcutter ant
best I could. Arranging the objects inside “highway” would have dense enough traf-
wasn’t a good option, because I ,couldn’t fic to leave behind ghostly ant trails, but
see the shadows the sun would cast, which Andy discovered that the ants are not
were essentially the medium I was work- keen to walk over solar paper laid in their
ing with. The rig I imagine to solve this path. A custom rig like the one discussed
would be a frame with a transparent top above could maybe be used–place the rig
and a sliding opaque board which could in their path, allow them time to accli-
be pulled out to reveal the solar paper be- mate to its presence and walk over it, then
low without disrupting the arrangement expose the paper underneath them with-
of objects on top. out disturbing their work.

– Solar print living creatures! I attempt- – Projection map visuals onto the 3D
ed this at Dinacon with a centipede, as prints! These pieces were created to be
did Andy Quitmeyer with some leafcutter static paintings, but they could also make
ants. It’s difficult to do! One reason is that for cool three-dimensional animated
living creatures tend to move around and pieces. Bigger would be better for this
solar prints require a few minutes of expo- purpose.
sure time. I was thinking something like a
frog that might hop around a bit, stay still, Facing page: My project table at the
hop around some more would work, but end-of-Dinacon Open Saturday.
still you would need to have some kind This kiddo immediately began matching
of clear container that would contain the the objects I had on display to their re-
animal without casting its own shadow. I spective solar prints!
P-132 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-133

I came to Dinacon already a devotee of up, and run away. The most common im-
agoutis. I had been observing them, pho- age I captured when I began agouti obser-
tographing them, and following them vation in Gamboa was that of a retreating
around a city park in Rio de Janeiro for rear end.
over a year.
The biggest difference was how the jun-
In Rio the urban population of agoutis are gle agoutis in Panama did not seem to
not quite tame, but not quite wild any lon- crowd around in groups. I never observed
ger – they are not afraid of humans. Hu- more than two agoutis in the same place,
mans bring them vegetable scraps, french and often if there were two grazing, one
fries, even piles of cat food that agoutis would attempt to dominate the other and
congregate around to enjoy. These agou- scare it away (cue: flare butt hair). The ur-
tis only rarely flare up their butt hair, the ban agoutis act more like we do in cities,
signature agouti skittish gesture of fear. gathering, eating fried food. In the jungle,
They co-exist with the population of stray the agouti’s important job of burying and
cats, ducks, pigeons, geese, and peacocks dispersing seeds around the forest seems
that call the park home. to be a solo endeavor.

In Gamboa, I had planned to film the lo- So: in order to observe the agoutis of
cal agoutis. I knew on some level that they Gamboa, I knew I needed to get closer,
would be different from their quasi-do- and get quieter.
mesticated Brazilian cousins, but I did
not realize that my entire understanding I took note of a spot near the water on the
of agouti behavior was skewed by the city Laguna trail where multiple agoutis had
population I knew. crossed the footpath – frantically, running
from me. I went back to the same spot on
In Gamboa, an agouti is approximately different days, in the early afternoon, and
7.92x more skittish (data forthcoming). saw agoutis retreating from me on multi-
They hear the crinkly sound of a hu- ple occasions. This was a place they liked.
man stepping on a decaying leaf on the This would be my stakeout. I set up a very
ground, and they snap to attention, look lo-fi camera trap: my Ricoh GR II fixed-
P-134 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-135
lens camera, attached to a hanging vine
with a gorilla tripod (approximate cost: 0:18 – the second agouti arrives, clucking
R$15, or less than $4 USD). 0:22 – brief moment of shared snacking
0:47 – agouti fight!
Under the gaze of the camera, I set up an 1:30 – paws out, digging underneath the
offering. This was not the french fries and palm
cat food of the Rio park, but a near-rotting 2:47 – agouti returns, from under the
pile of orange peels, banana peels, and hi- palm
biscus flowers. I set the stage. The bright 5:42 – return of the agouti, part ii
colors of my food offering lay against
the greying palm underneath it. I walked If the garbage-food offering was a step
away. I waited. towards domestication for these jungle
agoutis, my sitting in the woods was a step
I waited until the forest forgot I was there. towards wildness. We met somewhere in
Or until I forgot to consider myself differ- the middle.
ent than the forest. I looked through my
scopes at hummingbirds, at toucans in the possible extensions of project:
canopy. I knelt until I no longer felt my
quads burning. A blue-crowned motmot -what would the urban agoutis of Rio
landed on a branch inches above my face. have to say to the forest agoutis of Pan-
A Panamanian flycatcher looked at me, ama? with a similar simple set-up, a sig-
asking. I became like a stone, and when I nal could be sent (Arduino connected to
quieted, the forest came alive, dense and Internet) from one group to the other –
throbbing. an LED light, a banana peel being deliv-
ered…the above could have been Phase 1
I stayed, wilding myself, for a little more of “Cross-Continental Cutia Communi-
than an hour. When I stood up creaking cation” (cutia = the Brazilian Portuguese
and walked back to my camera, I saw that word for agouti)
some of the food had been taken. I real-
ized in that moment I could have caught -an agouti hide, like a birding hide, built
any creature in the act – who else might to be able to disappear and observe like
want that banana peel?! But after about 40 my camera
minutes of filming only the food pile, my
camera caught this: -more footage, and a full-on documenta-
ry about agoutis
Thanks to everyone at Dinacon! And to
key moments in the video: agoutis everywhere.

P-136 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-137
Kristina Dutton collaborating with Lisa Schonberg

I wanted to capture what it feels like to actually see with our eyes in these envi-
wander in the forests of Gamboa during ronments, and to explore the idea that lis-
both the sunset and evening choruses. tening would have been important for our
Once I spent a little time on the Rio Cha- ancestors in wildly different ways than it
gres, I decided to weave that into the mix is for us in most situations in modern cit-
as well. ies or suburbs. Our relationship to sound
has lost much of the meaning it once had
Binaural recordings imitate the spatial and understanding it required. In cities,
dimensions of human hearing. In other we primarily filter out “noise” whereas, in
words, they reproduce sound the way we the forest, we lean in and listen to under-
actually hear it. Because of this, listening stand what is around us.
to binaural recordings works best with
headphones. For example, acoustic ecologist Gordon
Hempton found that human hearing
The microphones I used are designed range is a perfect match for birdsong –
specifically for quiet environments, and I that birds are indicators of a habitat that
found the noise level of the evening cho- would be prosperous for human survival.
rus on Laguna Trail was enough to occa- He states that hearing is vital for all an-
sionally blow out the mics. imals’ survival, and the bandwidth from
2.5 to 5 kHz are the resonant frequencies
The audio was recorded in tandem with where we have super-senstive hearing –
the video, so I moved both camera and which is a perfect match for birdsong.
mics (since they were attached to my ears)
in whatever direction I was looking. This I’ve only made it through about 25% of
way, when I turn, the viewer hears the what I recorded, so I’ll continue to post
sound of the howlers from behind just as more to my Vimeo page that will include
I did, whereas a moment before they were other parts of Gamboa and the surround-
to the left, etc. ing areas.

I wanted to convey the experience of This video

sonic density in contrast to how little we was taken between 6:30am and 8 am and
P-138 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-139
Close up of bug attracted to an improvised Light Trap
made from a hacked digital projector

includes sounds of the red-lored parrot, strate-borne stridulations and locomo-

howler monkey, black-necked stilt, col- tion on Pipeline Road with binaural
lared plover, ringed kingfisher, green her- ambient sound. The second was filmed
on, wattled jacana, northern waterthrush, underwater in the Rio Chagres and uses a
smooth-billed ani, anhinga, and southern combination of hydrophone and iPhone
lapwing. And the occasional fish splashing recording above and under water.
In the Rio Charges, while putting my iP- hone in the water to film, I discovered
that many small fish were interested in sucking at my skin. I ended up playing
with them for quite a long time, as the
This 3rd vid is mostly made up of bin- fish didn’t react much to me scooping
aural recordings, but I threw in a mo- them into my hand. Playing in the water
ment recorded with a shotgun mic just to reminded me a lot what I felt like as a kid
demonstrate the differences. Also, this vid when I’d hang out at the edge of the pond
has a lot of great frog sounds! near my house. I decided to make the vid-
eo from that perspective – an intimate,
The collaborative project I did with Lisa playful view of the world just below the
Schonberg involved combining tech- surface of the water.- wonder and curios-
nologies to enable others to experience ity being two of the greatest assets of art/
the ecosystems in Gamboa from new sci/tech folks.
perspectives. We made two videos. The
first of leaf-cutter ants combined sub-
P-140 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-141
Agouti, Agouti! is a work of interactive

digital art (i.e. a videogame) which aims
to capture the spirit of the loveable
agouti, a rodent commonly seen eating
scraps and frolicking about in the back-
JASON BOND yards of Gamboa, Panama. They play an
Blunderboffins important role in the spread of seeds in
the forest and are adorable to boot.

This prototype work can be played on

a modern Mac or Windows computer
with a two-stick game controller. The
player is invited to explore a jungle, eat
some fruit, and — as the agouti does
when frightened — puff up the hair on
their butt.

P-142 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-143
ber of different forms can be attached
to any part of the structure.

Because the results of this genera-

tor can be quite chaotic, some crude
tools were developed to rapidly filter
through them for the best stuff. This in-
cludes a mutation tool which can take a
plant with some potential and produce
interesting variations on it until the
user is happy with the results.

A screenshot of the plant generator,

showing three mutations of what was
once the same plant.

The Forest

The environment of Agouti, Agouti! is filled with virtual “plants”. These forms are
more impressionistic than replicative, bearing little resemblance to the actual plants Each plant is encoded with a growth
of Panama, but they are meant to reflect the variety in Gamboa’s forest and to pro- animation so that it can begin as a sim-
vide a suitable jungle world for the agouti to play in. ple seedling and gain branches and
leaves over time. The agouti’s world can
Each type of virtual plant is generated by algorithm using custom software designed start out bare and grow a massive, ab-
for this project. In fact, this generator was intended to be the centrepiece of this proj- stract canopy.
ect until the agouti charmed its way into the starring role.
The agouti’s planet with hundreds of
The generator began as a simple branching algorithm not dissimilar from L-Systems small seedlings.
— a common procedural generation technique — beginning with a trunk and ran-
domly splitting off branches to create a tree-like structure. Inspired by the epiphytes
of Panama, this algorithm was modified to take a more additive approach: any num-

The planet after all plants have grown to

full size.

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The shimmering, industrious leafcutter ants that build

highways on the forest floor make up a complex adap-
tive system – the sophisticated structures and patterns
that they build are well beyond the sum of their indi-
vidual parts. The ants’ collective intelligence emerges
through the repetition of simple tasks, and somehow
through self-organization they build cities without ar-

chitects, roads without engineers. There’s the center), follow that pheromone.
something magnetic about their energet-
ic movement as they carve through the The Twist: music
jungle – wherever I found them in Gam- A symphony of digital fungus stockpiling
boa, I found that I could not look away. An audio representation of the complex
patterns and surprising order that arises
I altered the code from a classic NetLogo from randomness.
simulation to model the behavior of the
leafcutters. NetLogo allows you to code Each ant in the simulation has an ID
agent-based models and watch them number, and that ID number corre-
play out over time – each of the ants acts sponds to a note on the piano. When
as an autonomous “agent” with a sim- an ant picks up a leaf and successfully
ple task to perform, and the iteration brings it back to the fungus in the mid-
of multiple ants performing these tasks dle, that ant will sound its unique note.
begins to simulate how the ants behave I calibrated this so that extremely low
in the jungle. What starts out as random notes and extremely high notes on the
walking drifts into road-like patterns as scale won’t play – instead of those ex-
the ants pick up pixel leaves and deliver tremes, some ants are assigned the same
them to their digital fungus. middle C, which you can hear through-
out the simulation over and over like a
Ant Tasks: drum beat.
1. choose a random angle between -45
and 45 degrees The ants play their own bebop, they
2. walk 1 unit in that direction compose their own Xenakis-like songs.
3. repeat. No two ant improvisations will be exactly
4. IF there’s food (green leaves or pink alike; whenever you run the simulation,
flowers), pick it up by turning green, and each ant makes different, random choic-
deliver it back to the fungus at the center. es, and the behavior of the model will be
5. IF you sense digital pheromone (ants different. But they sound like they spring
carrying food tag the pixels they walk from the same mind.
over with digital “scent” as they head to
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Our minds love patterns too – I find myself cheering the ants on when I watch the
simulation, rooting for them to find the next leaf, hoping for them to route into the
highway pattern, waiting to hear their eerie, plunking, playful jazz.

extensions for this project:

-there is a web extension for NetLogo, but without sound; could translate these ants into Javascript/
p5.js so users can press “play” themselves online and control different variables (how many ants? speed
of ants?)

-connect the MIDI sound that the ants are making to a score, print out sheet music written by the ants,
play it on the piano

-make the model more complex, closer to the structure of actual leafcutter colonies: different sizes of
ants, different tasks…

-interactive projection version

Thanks to everyone at Dinacon! NetLogo citation:

Wilensky, U. (1999). NetLogo. Center for Con-
nected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling, Northwestern University, Evanston,

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We have liftoff. My first Balloon Environ- battery power. The data collection firm-
mental Sensing test successfully “slipped ware code was written in MicroPython
the surly bonds of earth, and danced the running on a LoPy4 wireless microcon-
skies on laughter-silvered wings,” sending troller module from Pycom. This first set
data back the whole time. The first flight of tests used all the Pysense evaluation
was at the Digital Naturalism Conference board sensors including light, tempera-
in Gamboa, Panama, featuring 10+ sensor ture, altitude, humidity, pitch, roll and
values streaming from the balloon to an acceleration in three axes. This data was
online data collection system and dash- taken in real time at 30-second intervals
board. and transmitted using LoRaWAN across
Things Network servers to be displayed
It was a big success! on a Cayenne dashboard. The Pybytes
cloud platform appears promising too.
This party-balloon platform is designed I’m looking forward to exploring that
for inexpensive aerial environmental more in later phases of the project.
sensing. Balloon lofting is perfect for sci-
entific research, educational programs, Gamboa has one very small grocery store.
hacker workshops, technology art, as well It does not sell helium or any other no-
as low-cost indoor or industrial monitor- ble gas. Luckily, the generous David Bow-
ing. Is the humidity overhead the same as en allowed our sensor package to hitch a
on the ground? Does wind speed change? ride on his drone during my first week, so
Is it dusty up there? How much UV light up we went for initial testing. As is so of-
penetrates the jungle canopy at different ten the case, even this partial test resulted
levels? These are all questions that can be in lots of changes. In this case I realized
answered with this platform. we needed a frame counter, better bat-
tery connections, and voltage monitoring
Since advanced LTE wasn’t available in before flying again. A second shakedown
Panama and SigFox coverage was absent, flight on Bowen’s drone proved the value
I decided to use the Digital Naturalism of these additions and gave us an excel-
Lab’s LoRaWAN gateway—long-range lent sampling of the data to come. We also
radio networking that uses very little did a bunch of range testing work, which
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For the next version of the Balloon En-
vironmental Testing platform, my plan
is to explore other sensors and wireless
links. I’m especially interested in UV light,
air quality, wind speed and loudness. In
Gamboa, we talked about trying some
sound recording too. As the balloon itself
is silent, it’s the perfect place to record.
is covered in a separate blog post. in a large field away from balloon-eating
For wireless links, I’m itching to explore
trees. It was easy to get LoRaWAN signal
some new cellular low-bandwidth, low-
A taxi trip into Panama City brought us to from altitude since LoRa works best in
cost protocols, LTE Cat-M and NB-IoT,
Mundo de los Globos (World of Balloons) line-of-sight conditions. We plan to do
because they don’t require any dedicated
where helium tanks are available, along more with the Things Network to sup-
base stations and should work great at the
with 1-meter balloons in plenty of colors. port the biology and ecology research in
altitudes needed for balloon flights. Ad-
With a full tank of the squeaky gas, we re- Gamboa that are spearheaded by the local
ditional plans include extended day-long
turned to Gamboa, and I started inflating Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
flights, free flight with GPS, and maybe
our ride to the sky.
look at hydrogen gas, but not near any
Another afternoon was set aside for a
The next morning, it was time for the sen- proper party-balloon experiment. Using
sor package to take its first balloon ride, a smaller battery, I was able to loft the
The initial prototype goal was to see if the
and up we went. Andy Quitmeyer got sensor package using six small balloons
full system will work, and it does! Gamboa
some amazing footage from his drone, and the small amount of remaining he-
was a great success for this project, giving
and Trevor Silverstein shot high-end lium. This worked too, though seven bal-
me the time, venue, and documentation
video from the ground (coming soon). loons would have provided more lift and
assistance to bring this idea to life. If you
I could not have asked for a better doc- handled the wind better. Next time, more
get a chance to attend the next Dinacon, I
umentation team. The balloon reached balloons!
strongly recommend it. And if you’re in-
60 meters (about 200 feet) above ground
terested in balloon sensing for any exper-
level, which was the limit of the reel line I Data from these flights can be down-
iment, class, or project, let me know!
was using for a tether. loaded, and the MicroPython code for
the LoPy4 or FiPy can be found on my
We got great data back from this flight, GitHub.
and soon made a second one—this time
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Unnatural Language, a collaboration our speakers, and the electronics, which

between Michael Ang and Scott Kildall, consisted of custom software synth code
is a network of electronic organisms on an ESP32 chip with an on-board amp
(“Datapods”) that create sonic impro- and water sensor, onto various garbage
visations from physical sensors in the flotillas, which we constructed from the
MICHAEL ANG AND SCOTT (SEAMUS) KILDALL natural environment. Each Datapod has litter that we had collected by kayak.
custom electronics connected to sensors,
a speaker, and a wireless network. The The second sensor-synth combination
sensed data, for example from electrodes was a plant sensor, which detected elec-
that measure the subtle electrical vari- trical activity in plants using electrodes.
ations in the leaves of plants, is trans- Plants tend to respond relatively rapid-
formed into a unique synthesized sound. ly (2-3 minutes) in response to various
Encased in sculptural materials (natural environmental triggers. The synth we
fiber, leather, leaves, etc) and dispersed developed acted as a drum machine,
into a natural environment, the Data- modulating different tempos according
pods enter into a sonic dialogue with the the the plants that it was attached to.
existing ecosystem of plants and animals.
We learned many things at Dinacon!
Unnatural Language proposes that tech- Making a compelling Datapod took
nology and nature are forming a new much longer than we thought it would.
hybrid ecology, where innovations such To achieve the best type of synth effect,
as intelligent devices that occupy the we recorded humans performing an ac-
natural landscape are dissolving the tivity with the thing being sensed: rocks
traditional nature-culture dichotomy. being thrown into water and water being
This work repurposes this technology to poured through a strainer onto a plant.
amplify unseen processes such as plant We then cut these up into bite-sized
intercommunication, river health, and pieces and ported them into our soft-
subtle microclimate changes. ware, which uses compiled C++ code on
the ESP32 to make dynamic effects.
We were at Dinacon in Gamboa, Panama
for 18 days, and this was our first full de- Also, the janky look for the sculptures
velopment and installation of our proj- themselves had a broad appeal and this
ect. After several adventures in the area, will be a direction for the project into the
we decided to deploy eight Datapods in future. We’re looking forward to further
Lake Chagres, which feeds the Panama site-specific installations of Unnatural
Canal, since this constitutes a transitional Language.
space: a brackish marshland, which also
had signs of human outflow, such as gar- Many thanks to all our fabulous co-Di-
bage, floating in it. nasaurs for the wonderfully playful and
productive atmosphere, and especially to
At Dinacon, we developed two types of our intrepid film crew (Mónica, Ruben,
sensor-synthesizers. The first detected Cherise, and Andy on the drone!)
electrical conductivity levels in water and
modulated different sampled sounds that
we recorded of rocks sinking in water
from a hydrophone. As the water quality
fluctuated with these sensor readings, the
output of the synthesizer played higher
and lower-pitched samples accordingly.

For the water-based datapods, we put

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Frog Show wants to elevate the singing the LED strip depending on its volume.
frogs to an audiovisual experience.
Since our arrival to Gamboa, every eve- The result is an installation that charges
ning we were amazed by their singing. during daytime and activates at night
It didn’t sound like the frogs we knew. with the frogs’ concert. You can read the
This was more of an electronic synth-like intense activity of the animals through
music performance. We saw opportuniy the light show.
to join the frogs and develop some visu-
als to add to the show. With the goal of Technical details:
low impact on the environment and not
disturbing the frog’s activity, we came up Arduino Nano
with this solar-powered red LED instal- Adafruit MAX4466 microphone
lation. The solar power makes the system 12.000mAh 2.4A 5V battery pack
self-sufficient, and the red light is known 7W solar panel
to be less perceived by frogs. 1,5m WS2812b LED strip
arduino code based on neopixel library.
The installation relies on the following
hardware: microphone, arduino board,
battery pack, solar panel, and LED strip.
The light effects are audio reactive and
controlled through code on the arduino
board. Every single frog sound triggers

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DINAPOUCH – scissors
– sewing machine
– snap press
HANNAH PERNER-WILSON – hole punch – iron
– needle
– thread
Hannah wasn’t able to make it to Dinacon this year, but that
didn’t stop her from contributing in a big way! She made a cus- MATERIALS
tom peice of Wearable Studio Gear ( specifi-
cally for junglepunks! ### FABRIC
roughly 100x50cm piece of non-stretch
Not only did she make this to help out around the new Dinalab, fabric (canvas or tarp work well, but it can
she also provides open-source designs and patterns here for you also be a thinner fabric)
to make your own!
It’s a customizable design, so Hannah even leads workshops for 40-60cm long open-able zipper (can be
others to make their own DINApouch specific to their wearable nylon-spiral, plastic or metal teeth)
studio practice.
30-60cm of flat elastic (1-2cm wide)


150cm of webbing strap and matching
buckle (or an old belt!)
I like to use 2.5cm wide strap and buckle.

one set of snaps (hand sewable, ma-
chine-press or magnetic)

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what tools will you carry?

The tools I pared down for everyday use

and sent to Hannah for the design were:

* clip
* carabiner
* pen

* mini calipers

* safety pins
* magnet

apron <--> pouch
A Wearable Studio Practice
* wire
* glue
* zip-ties
* cutter knife
* key

* muti-tool (Above) - minimal set of tools for jungle

* key hacking
* hot glue stick
* 3D print filament
* gas soldering iron (Below) - larger set of tools I tend to
* tweezers use everyday in Dinalab


Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-165

* size/dimensions
* placement of tools
* fixtures for tools: pouches, elastic, mag-
net, snap
* materials & techniques
* open to left or right

dimensions <--> zip length
make extra patterns for pouches, fixtures

4)TRACE & CUT pattern pices

pay attention to right side of fabric


– attach items
– do all sewing you don’t want to show
on outside

P-166 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-167
DINApouch in action in Panama

From Hannah’s studio in Berlin... Dinalab in Panama

(with custom Paca embroidery by Other’s custom DINApouches made at Hannah’s workshop
Samantha Wong)

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INVISIBLE COORDINATES: I arrived at Dinacon to begin a long-
term project involving the host location
9º07’09’N 79º41’48’W - Gamboa.
The project, tentatively called Gamboa
Atlas ,will explore the way plants, ani-
Emily Zhukov and Peter Marting mals, and humans navigate and under-
stand the local through investigation of
existing historical and scientific docu-
mentation and creative observation in
the field. I anticipated an evolving proj-
ect that would explore and embrace
available materials and unforeseen en-
counters. An initial point of departure
was to pursue ideas around spider webs
as nearly invisible, mapped territories.
Vertical, not horizontal, that are most
often discovered when you run into
them. Aside from the aesthetic attrac-
tion of the webs, the spider’s activity
of defining and defending a “personal
space” for survival seemed rich with

As often happens when you set off on

a journey, with or without a map and
a compass, you will find that getting
lost and finding new paths is the most
rewarding part of the adventure. And
so it was that as I started locating, pho-
tographing and recording geo-posi-
tional data for the spider webs I found,
I felt I was not generating a convincing
message, or even interesting images,
given the limitations of my iPhone 6.
Moreover, spider webs are hard to find
on gray days, and are usually strung in
front of less than photo friendly back-

During Andrew’s playful intervention

while we observed a fellow Dinosaur
resin coat leaf exoskeletons, I learned of
his stash of glow-in-the-dark powder,
and decided to follow this new fork in
the road to see how my project might
evolve. My research into spider silk had
taught me that the webs are composed
of strands of sticky beads, which is what
we feel when we walk into one of them.
I dusted the webs with the glow-in-the-
dark powder, catching them on pieces
of watercolor paper. I was not interest-
ed in capturing a perfect spider web

P-170 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-171
shape, but allowed the strands to attach gan to shoot. We played with different
as they may as I placed the paper be- lighting angles and camera settings and
hind the web, scooping it forward onto marveled at what appeared - a magical
the picture plane. Invisible in daylight, universe of textures, colors, and woven
the transfer “prints” glowed chartreuse planes of amazing tensile strength. Per-
under a UV lamp, creating abstract di- haps not that strong, after all. Tips for
agrams like road maps or aerial sketch- anyone who wants to do this: use a bat-
es of archeological ruins. I titled each tery-operated UV lamp. We got as tan-
web capture with its GPS location. The gled in the extension cord as, well, a fly
Gamboa Atlas had its first maps. in a spider web. In our excitement, we
stumbled over our equipment, catching
Enter now my collaborator, Peter Mar- on the leader lines, and soon the web
ting, scientist, artist and owner and began to fray and slump. The spider
operator of an amazing professional returned, trying to repair the dam-
camera. What if we put the powder on age, but seeing that the battle was lost,
a web in situ at night and shone the UV she began to ball up the lines of silk in
lamp on it to take photographs? Armed front of her as she walked a disappear-
with camera, tripod, powder and a ing tight-rope. It was beyond amazing
hundred meters of extension cord, to watch this tiny superhero pack it in,
we set to document spider webs in the walking in a galaxy all her own.
dark. There was a particularly intrigu-
ing combo of two different spider webs We share with you here a few images
within the nest of a nephtali spider from that nocturnal photo shoot, Invis-
behind the Adopta dining hall. After ible Coordinates: 9º07’09’N 79º41’48’W.
coating the web with the powder, I Enjoy!
shown the UV lamp on it, and Peter be-
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Still from a music video shoot directed by singer, Janne Nora Kummer.
Photographic assistance by Ashlin Aronin and Andy Quitmeyer.
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HACKING AND BEING HACKED: 1/3. Being hacked: ethnographic rigor tured interviews, most one hour in length
within an anti-disciplinary community and all richly rewarding. (See below for
DINACON AS CULTURE the interview protocol.) Moreover, I par-
ticipated alongside many more Dina-
As an anthropologist curious about how
communities of technologists come to- saurs as they designed, reimagined, and
WYTHE MARSCHALL gether and create things, my mission en- executed projects or simply explored the
tering Dinacon 2019–Panamá was clear: tropical moist forest. In a sense, I sought
figure out what “digital naturalism” is. That to understand the “typical” experience of
is, what idea—other than a desire to hang a digital naturalist while probing for in-
out with agoutis—united a diverse array of sights into what digital naturalism means.
technical and artistic professionals, com-
pelling them to travel to the ghost town of Dinacon itself, however, is an anti-disci-
Gamboa in the Canal Zone and then hike in plinary event where participants are en-
the woods or solder electronics together? couraged to eschew formalities and tra-
ditions, remix ideas, and remain open to
I had read statements about digital natu- change. In fact, more than the call to bring
ralism by the ur-digital naturalist, Andrew computer engineering and 3D printing
Quitmeyer. I’d read through the Dinacon into the forest, the organizers of Dinacon
site and the documentation regarding nudge participants to not do whatever
Dinacon 2018–Thailand, and I’d spoken they would typically do; to not assume that
with a friend who is a longtime associ- they are immune to environmental influ-
ate of Andy’s. But Andy’s technological ences, human or nonhuman. This ethos
and biological design principles—in part, was physicalized by the daily “houseclean-
that computers and other tools useful ing” exercise in which Andy would liter-
to biologists “have to leave the safety of ally chase participants out of his home/
the womb-like laboratories in which they lab, forcing them to pause their work and
were conceived and confront the messy do anything else for at least an hour (but,
challenges outside” (Quitmeyer 2017)— in practice, two or three, due to dinner).
didn’t seem to completely map onto the
documented projects from Dinacon 2018. So my project to write a well-organized
and disciplinarily legible ethnograph-
The call to bring a pragmatic maker, DIY ic article mutated. My article (which,
(do-it-yourself) attitude into field biol- to be frank, is competing as of fall 2019
ogy appeared to be only one of several for attention with my overdue disserta-
design tenets at work for the first round tion) remains half-finished. Pages and
of digital naturalists (“Dinasaurs”). Oth- pages of field notes—thumbed out late
er key themes seemed to include specu- at night a while lying on the bottom of
lative design (exploring possible futures a bunk bed—remain half-transformed
through new arrangements of objects into coherent vignettes and arguments.
and people), technology for art’s sake On the ground, I allowed my disciplinary
(pure play with machines), and multispe- practice to be hacked, and my project to
cies becoming (reframing the category of be intersected by the humans and non-
the “human” through new modes of in- humans around me. I joined two col-
teraction with nonhuman living beings). laborative projects, one within my ex-
isting skillset and one that pushed me
With these themes in mind, I planned to to refine my data management skills.
write an ethnographic article about the
digital naturalists among whom I would First, I collaborated with designer Sjef van
work and live for two weeks. And indeed, in Gaalen to host a short, intensive specula-
order to learn more about what perform- tive design workshop on the future of food
ing digital naturalism (or not) felt like to production, urban planning, and proper-
the various 2019 conference participants, ty law called “Speculative Zoöperations.”
I conducted a series of sixteen semi-struc- Drawing from Sjef’s work in the EU on

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novel cooperative farm–communities 4. and finally Dinacon in the context but there are other ways to think about
(zoöperations) and my work in the north- of the politics of the Capitalocene what brings digital naturalists together.)
east US on high-tech indoor agriculture (or Anthropocene, Plantationocene,
(vertical farms), we challenged five teams to Manthropocene, Planthroposcene, Regarding the intersection of digital nat-
construct maquettes of future farm–cities. C[h]thulhucene—take your pick): the uralism as design philosophy and event,
questions I’m still writing through in- most interviewees and participant-inter-
The result was a frenetic collage of fu- clude, what are Dinacon’s shortcom- locutors identified Andy himself as the
tures, all directly and creatively engaged ings as a space of inclusive sociality? necessary link: one could summarize Din-
with climate apocalypse, urban dwell- What are the politics of the event? acon as a charismatic technological design
ing, and how those dimensions of cul- philosophy being explored in an uncon-
ture intersect with agriculture and food I offer these fragmentary analytic sketch- ference—or some version of that phrase.
atively easy to learn but suffers from the
logistics. One city comprised a giant es in part in the spirit of the other par-
constraints of any free, readymade visual-
snail; another consisted of enclaves with- tial, mutating projects I observed, and
in giant genetically engineered trees in a
ization tool—could continue in future Di-
in part because I welcome feedback on I think we’re all naturally scien-
nacons. Certainly, the basic demographic
newly arable (but not too hot) Antarctica;
information we collected will be interest-
them. Far from a removed judgment on tists, right? But I think… it helps to
the third consisted of an fortified anar-
ing to the degree that digital naturalism
a welcoming community, I’d rather of- have a guiding like a North Star,
chist garden in New Orleans; the fourth, fer points of discussion for the commu-
a dystopian Neo-Toronto, where citizens
grows as a discipline and useful to the de-
nity. If you, dear imagined reader, have you know, somebody asking these
gree that Andy or other organizers require
dwell underground and live off of myce-
metrics to show funding organizations
feedback, please don’t hesitate to email questions.
lium; and the fifth, a unique island eco- wmarschall [at] fas [dot] harvard [dot] edu —a Dinasaur, contemplating An-
regarding the reach of the conference.
system revolving around giant coconuts or DM me on Twitter at @hollowearths. dy’s role as ur-digital naturalist
engineered by escapist capitalists—a site
Before, during, and long after these col-
reminiscent of the laser-shark-infest-
laborative social–visual projects, howev- 2/3. Nudging toward innovation: swift Regarding Dinacon as a pure event—a
ed villas of James Bond villains. All told, trust in the (semi-)wilderness form of socialization, a mode of associa-
er, I continued to write field notes and
these science fictional visions explored tion, a time- and place-bound coming-to-
synthesize them into social theories. The
real trends in late capitalism, summon- So what is digital naturalism as such? gether, more than an abstract design
following post summarizes my findings,
ing them into abstract life in the form Most Dinasaurs interviewed responded philosophy or concomitant (anti-disci-
drawing primarily from participant-ob-
of discarded cardboard, masking tape, with some version of Andy’s design phi- plinary) pedagogical model—many in-
servation and semi-structured interviews,
and orange or blue 3D-printer plastic. losophy. They endorsed this as positive terviewees and participant-interlocutors
with both participants and organizers.
and interesting, even as many interview- compared it to other genres that bring to-
Second, I worked with open science com- ees and participant-interlocutors made gether dedicated amateurs or profession-
Here I do not offer a single cohesive argu-
munications specialist Johanna Have- clear that they do not think of themselves als from different fields for temporary,
ment or analysis but four reflections that
mann to collect basic data on all 2019 as digital naturalists. When prompted, project-based creative work: hackathons,
will serve as the basis of an eventual article:
conference participants and generate a however, interviewees reflected on the summer camps, even transformational
“DINAmap” illustrating their connec- structural differences between digital nat- festivals such as South-By-Southwest or
1. I discuss at some length how Dina-
tions to projects, regions, institution- uralism as a set of design principles and Burning Man. (At least one participant
con functions as an event, including
al affiliations, and self-identifying tags Dinacon as an event that creates room found the comparisons to Burning Man
the degree to which Dinacon prompts
(drawn in many cases from interviews) for other forms of tool-, knowledge-, and pejorative.) I glossed this understanding
participants to engage with digital
such as “maker” or “environmentalist.” art-making. We discussed the nature of of Dinacon as event in terms of a pro-
naturalism as articulated by Andy.
this event, and how their own projects fit in. fessional conference or “unconference,”
2. Then I discuss more briefly: the var-
The DINAmap was not meant to be com- meaning a conference with a clear theme
ious ways in which Dinacon serves
pletely exhaustive or richly descriptive, In general, interviewees and participant but little or not set agenda, for makers.
as an exemplar for proponents of a
and it’s still open to contributions! It is -interlocutors felt that digital naturalism
STEAM (science, technology, engi-
rather meant to highlight perhaps unex-
pected shared affiliations and common
neering, art, and math) education par- was inspiring and could continue to grow For me, it felt more like a hack-
adigm that is more nimble and equita- as a named, specific technology design
identities, and to allow us to see at a glance
ble than that afforded by the Academy; paradigm, apart from the event of Dina- athon, but like in the wild and you
the general diversity (or lack thereof) of
3. the strong aspect of play operant at con. At the same time, they recognized that had to, you know, kind of—you
participants in Dinacon 2019. All credit
to the idea goes to Jo; I simply assisted in
Dinacon, which runs counter to the Dinacon’s evolution would not necessarily had to get the things that you
pragmatism of both the larger mak- be tightly linked to digital naturalism, but
data collection and cleaning, and talking
through the data visualization hierar-
er movement (which I understand rather to the development of a commu- needed.
in one sense as seeking to return the nity or network of individuals with other —a Dinasaur, on the form
chy. This project or a brand-new version shared commitments. (I generally gloss
pragmatic power of tool-making to the of the event that Dinacon is
moving away from Kumu—which is rel- these as the principles of maker culture,
people) as well as techno-capitalism;
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Overall, many participants stressed that budget, for example, is open), technology are you up to?”) over hikes and meals. Ide- Somehow, Dinacon as a total intellectual,
while Dinacon is more of a general maker art (making a spotlight-drone controlled ally, projects’ stakeholders felt that they emotional, and physical space manages
conference (an event) than a performance by a plant’s electrical signals for humans entered what Andy called a “flow state,” to be both meditative and intense, rule-
or exploration of a specific design philos- to dance under, e.g.), molecular biology picking up useful elements from the con- free and anxiety-provoking. This strikes
ophy, Dinacon is not truly a conference (genetic barcoding of wild yeast strains, text of Gamboa and from other Dinasaurs. me as rather the point: if it were merely
at all in the sense of an event with a clear e.g.), and field biology—that is, natural- a meeting of open hardware engineers or
purpose for professionals of one type. One ism avant the digital (various projects to only ornithologists or only kinetic sculp-
interviewee noted: “Calling [Dinacon] a draw, digitally image, record the sounds Everybody has their contribution, tors; if less booze were involved; if less in-
‘conference’ is itself a hack,” as in a cre- of, or otherwise simply describe “nature”). right? So you’re instantly aware ternalized pressure to produce work were
ative exploitation of a rule. I glossed this of the parochialism of your field, felt;—if any of these counterfactuals were
not-really-ness as an important element Of course, some projects did fall neatly true, Dinacon would lose its charm as a
of plasticity (wiggle room or “squishiness”) within Andy’s original concept of digital like the narrowness of your train- site where generations meet, disciplinary
for a developing event and the developing naturalism as bringing the tools of com- ing once you meet all these other norms are transgressed, myriad projects
(anti-/trans-)discipline that inspired it. puter engineering and makerspaces into people. unfold and half-unfold and crash, and—
sites of field biology research: Andy him- most importantly—these tensions must
Likewise, many interviewees and par- self, with help from several others, con- —a Dinasaur, asked about collaboration be actively discussed, because you’ll see
ticipant-interlocutors felt that Dinacon tinued to work on automated ant-count- the same people at dinner and breakfast
was, all at once, thematically about dig- ing to help entomologist Peter Marting, for a week; because you want to write
ital naturalism, a more general maker a collaborative project that was one of …You’re working with an unknown songs with them and go on long hikes with
paradigm, and various other, variously the original inspirations for digital nat- parts list until everyone arrives. them; because you’re working on a sensor
allied or counterposed themes. So in ad- uralism. Many projects, in fact, focused project together; because you are all out of
dition to the nascent discourse on digital on making new tools, especially sensors. —another Dinasaur, contemplating proj- your element and collectively exploring.
naturalism pur sang, we also discussed ect design
other relevant technology, design, sci- The project to create yeast traps, isolate
ence, and art discourses in some depth. wild yeast strains, and barcode their ge- Ultimately, all curveballs, resource con- 3/3. Beyond toolmaking, beyond hack-
nomes also clearly adhered to the tenets straints, and new ideas, good or bad, had
ing: other ways of reading Dinacon
The word that seemed to resonance of digital naturalism as a design philos- to fit within a limited number of days to
with the most participants by far was ophy for technologists interested in field execute a project. Some projects consisted
The above reflection focuses on Dina-
“maker.” A distant second was “hack- biology: the project creator even told me, of performances and could be ultimately
con as a space—a time frame, a phys-
er,” as in computer engineer interested “I want to do fieldwork. … I want to un- finished, but some were left half-finished,
ical locus—within which technical
in software and hardware as platforms derstand microbial diversity in the wild.” open-ended, or as first parts or instiga-
work of some kind was accomplished.
for creative play—not, many were quick tions. Dinacon’s organizers did not of
The following shorter reflections fo-
to point out, as in virtuosic computing Beyond some clear structural elements course fully impose a swift trust-driven
cus on kinds of work Dinasaurs they
amateur interested in stealing online that made Dinacon a coherent event, and production flow onto project creators à la
performed, beyond that encompassed
identities or state secrets. “Tinker” also beyond thematic groups of projects, a final the Hollywood movie industry. Instead,
in the definition of digital naturalism.
came up as a relevant category, imply- thread clearly ran through the collabora- the clear goal of accomplishing some sort
ing a maker who works incrementally. tive projects that I observed: this could be of project and soliciting some sort of feed-
Reimagining the future of STEAM: dig-
called “swift trust,” or the coming-togeth- back within a certain time frame, with the
ital naturalism as educational paradigm
er of professionals with different exper- design philosophy of digital naturalism
…Hacking is not necessarily, you tise to work on common goals over a rela- in the background, offered participants
To some degree, many projects did
not seem to have a pragmatic objec-
know, stealing credit cards and tively short period of time (coined by first guidelines or nudges, gently contouring
tive in mind: the tools they created were
doing notorious things… It is real- Debra Meyerson in 1996). As in the mov- their social and technical experience to-
non-functional, or the data they collected
ie industry, and contra the timescales of ward collaborative, biology-focused proj-
ly about taking things and using most scientific research, Dinacon projects ects with one- or two-week scopes of work.
(length of stay in Gamboa mapped out in
a histogram made out of leaves, e.g.), hard
them for unintended purposes or had to be started, refined, and completed
to draw meaningful patterns from. The
re-purposing other things for new within one or two weeks, sometimes less. In summary, Dinacon is at least two
purpose of these projects seemed to be
Often, they began as solo or small-group things at present: a design technology
things. projects but added elements that required for technologists interested in working
instead to refine one’s skills, to learn about
—a Dinasaur, thinking through the town of Gamboa and especially the
or enabled new collaborators to join. with life scientists as well as an annual
making, hacking, and tinkering tropical forest surrounding it, or to teach
gathering in a tropical forest of self-de-
others something. Thus many projects
This process of rapidly gathering new scribed hackers, makers, scientists, art-
Other relevant discourses included open or non-project creative activities at Din-
perspectives included formal feedback ists, and other creative individuals.
science and technology (the conference acon seemed to be educational in nature.
sessions and informal articulations (“what
Skill-sharing workshops were especially
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common. Most participants seemed eager eas. Digital naturalism could very well no goal in mind, as opposed to “mere” ritual akin to a religious sermon. We sat
to share knowledge, with no sense of ped- grow into a common approach for teach- fun (a diversion, pure entertainment). and took pictures and wondered about
antry. One interviewee reported that the ing various subjects, particularly those the future together: how ubiquitous will
biggest problem with Dinacon is an inev- under the STEAM umbrella: Dinacon Both dimensions of activity were pres- delivery drones become? Drones in sci-
itable feeling of “FOMO” (fear of missing seems to promote exploring new techni- ent at Dinacon, but the philosophy of the ence? Security drones, which of course
out) vis-à-vis all of the activities offered. cal subjects and skills in small groups, in event seemed to push participants toward promote the insecurity that neo-nation-
relaxed settings, with few or no concrete play. I recall many times a fellow Dina- alist austerity states thrive upon? Pet
My personal favorite workshops were outcomes set in advance. One can imag- saur stressing that her real “project” was drones? Watching someone play around
one on training machines to write po- ine even more community-wide projects simply to walk through the forest and with both technology and a plant in
etry using a web app and some sample at future Dinacons, to be explored as jig- look for animals. (For me, it was plants.) the dark felt rewarding not because we
texts, including a delightfully dry passage saws; this idea appealed to several inter- Andy said that much of the point is sim- learned anything specific, but because
about agoutis, and one on forest bees. viewees, who related it to citizen science ply to encourage the act of “crafting in na- we collectively attended to what felt like
but differentiated digital naturalism as ture” without stressing specific outcomes. an intrusion from the sometimes inspir-
Owls for the Kingdom (Cento) more about tech skills than epistemic ing, sometimes techno-dystopian future
questions per se. One interviewee sug- I personally experienced play at Dinacon into a quiet idyll of the present. We ex-
She is seeing owl worlds. Then gested that future Dinasaurs plant some in two modes: the first was an invitation to perienced non-pragmatic making that
actual owls, which explains the to-be-determined number of trees ap- try new things, loosen or change old ones, also didn’t feel like art—a test run, not
rush of time left over. But the propriate to a visited region. I suggested and especially to explore Gamboa and the in a gallery, hardly announced, with un-
owls are born in name alone— that we work with local primary and sec- forest. This led, for example, to my collab- clear start and stop times, repeated often.
ondary schools, or that we first ask local oration with Sjef on Speculative Zoöpera-
cut from inside-out colonies indigenous peoples what environmen- tions, which was an ultra-fast, compressed Likewise, when one Dinasaur discovered
on a world planted in the tal issues they would most be interest- version of two different day-long designs that it is both medically safe (short-term)
forests. Here, not order—contrast. ed in visiting technologists researching. workshops with slightly different goals and culturally appropriate to smoke
—poem composed from and background lectures. The result was warūmo—the leaf of the ubiquitous, el-
lines generated by a computer In any event, for educators, Dinacon of- not pure play, in that we still had some egantly skinny cecropia tree—at least a
fers a chance to rethink what teaching pedagogical goals in mind and gave our few if not many of us played around with
But these projects and teaching moments looks like, since a house/makerspace in good-natured participants several specif- this new, free, mild substance. Its smoke
might be best understood as metonyms: a ghost town in the tropical forest is not ic tasks to complete (create a maquette, was supposed to function like CBD but
Dinacon as a whole can be seen as an ear- a traditional classroom, and one’s fel- name a future city, explain the food sys- only ever seemed to function like tobac-
nest, well-designed attempt to model a low Dinasaurs, not traditional learners. tem there, respond to a climate catastro- co. I never learned the full story about
new détente between the Academy, capi- phe, incorporate a new cohort of person/ how it is traditionally prepared. Maybe
tal A, and some form of making/doing-fo- market, etc.). But the feeling of playing no one particularly enjoyed it. The point
cused “unschooling” that feels decidedly So yeah, I would like to share around with ideas of what future-orient- certainly wasn’t really to learn about
non-capital-A-Academic. That is, perhaps something before I leave, yeah. ed ecological design is, and how to ex- plant physiology by smoking it. Instead,
more than allowing individual makers or I never leave one place without plore that practice with others, pushed the the discover of warūmo concretized for
small groups of them to explore interest- workshop into existence in the first place. me human relationships, not to men-
ing projects in semi-wild areas, Dinacon’s showing or sharing something tion my relationship with the import-
primary offering is modeling a way to or- about bees. An example of a second, more pure mode ant cecropia tree. Smoking was play that
ganize learning by making. This is not an —a Dinasaur, two days be- of play was what I called in my field notes made people and trees more memorable.
entirely novel idea. Andy stressed when fore leaving Gamboa “drone fever”: during the evolution of the
interviewed that he teaches computing plant-driven drone-with-a-giant-spot- In the same way, I barely improved my
and hardware skills by bringing students Escaping the tyranny of pragma- light-on-it project, the overgrown base- soldering skills at Dinacon, never did
outside, so in a way, digital naturalism tism in maker discourse: a cel- ball diamond—the hollow center of the learn to weld, and only wrote a few lines
is already at work as a practical mode of ebration of useless endeavors empty colonial town—would be periodi- of code for simple web apps—but the
tech education, and perhaps as a fully At the same time that Dinacon is practical cally flooded with light for what felt like a event made me remember how those
theorized philosophy of pedagogy. But qua project-focused and educational qua quarter of an hour (I don’t know if anyone skills work, why they matter, how I might
Dinacon offers a showcase space, a trans- post-Academic skill-sharing-focused, it is in the bleachers kept time) as the inchoate explore them in the future. So in a sense
formational event for makers and edu- also a space of pure jeu or play: many proj- frankendrone danced. Bugs fogged the pure play did serve a function by help-
cators to explore new ways of teaching. ects featured elements that serve no pur- pillar of light as humans oohed and aahed. ing a community to form and educa-
pose whatsoever, and many days featured tional activities to appear approachable.
Perhaps some of the makers who come moments that were never meant to serve I’m sure these flights served some testing
to Dinacon will be inspired and take away any particular project. Play can be thought purpose for the dronemaker, but for the Pure play might be a pole at one end of
ideas about how to educate in their ar- of as a rehearsal of creative moves with rest of us, they served as a coordinating a spectrum, the other being pragmat-

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Dinasaurs go on a tour of the Smithsonian’s ic activity designed to result in some play, if any, in an imagined ecotopia?
butterfly research laboratories led by Remy, documentable progress or achieve- What role should makers and hackers
ment. Rather than simply standing play? What is the capital-P Point, the te-
photo by A. Gabo apart, completely separated, howev- los (to be fancy), of the maker in the
er, these poles are always pulling upon age of climate apocalypse and neo-na-
each other. It is as hard to imagine Di- tionalism? And how does Dinacon fit in?
nacon without play as it is to imagine it
without the sharing of practical skills. At least a few participants struggled with
these lines of thinking, and arguments
Debating the vocation of the mak- about them at times arose that, howev-
er in the age of climate apocalypse: er friendly, revealed real disagreements
against an apolitical digital naturalism about the roles of Dinacon-the-event,
Finally, I must discuss another way in digital naturalism-the-design-philoso-
which Dinacon functions, and another phy, and technology overall in various
thing that it is, or may be, or will be, de- possible futures. These fissures led me to
pending on who organizes and attends believe that, regardless of the answer to
and writes about it over the next several the questions posed, Dinacon functions
years. For Dinacon is a boundary object, an as an important crucible for asking them.
entity that stakeholders have some invest-
ment in even as they don’t agree on what Since Dinacon is not only a boundary ob-
exactly it is. And Dinacon may change ject but an event wherein clever people
very much in the near future—even if all exploit rules and adapt to new circum-
stakeholders are happy with its current stances, I predict that its role as crucible
format—in response to climatic and at- for nudging makers to debate serious
tendant political disruptions of all kinds. questions about the connected, living
fragile world will become more import-
So regarding this boundary object, I have ant as the event grows and circumstanc-
so many questions. What are the politics es indeed change. Future projects will no
of Dinacon, folk (meaning unofficial, ad doubt hack Dinacon in order to manifest
hoc) or otherwise? Is Dinacon a redoubt, a (eco-)political changes. The anti-poli-
vacation, a training camp, a place tempo- tics of technology—pure efficiency, by
rarily removed from larger social strug- twentieth-century industrial standards—
gles? How to reconcile the experience of will fade in relevance. I look forward
driving through an economically blight- to learning what emerges in its stead.
ed barrio in Cuidad de Panamá with
the opulence of the gleaming new post-
modern edifice home to the Smithso-
nian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)?

Does the emergent culture of Dinacon

sufficiently depart from a larger mak-
er culture, one that is typically white,
male, and above all neoliberal? Can fu-
ture Dinacons better nudge makers to
think about and perhaps abnegate or
share their own privileges? Can future
Dinacons better plug into local commu-
nities, addressing local environmental
challenges? Can Dinacon more explicitly
offer a response to climate apocalypse?

Widening out, what function should

a traditional education in technology

P-184 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-185
Idea: A handful of food experi- food from the tienda and have people
ences inspired by the creatures around eat them out of a fruit with a tongue
ANIMAL-INSPIRED PLAYFUL EATING EXPERIENCES us in Panama, using either the food eat- made of a palm frond covered in honey.
en or the manner in which it’s eaten to Reality: In 2014, Hershey’s patent-
bring this to life. ed a chocolate that doesn’t really melt.
JOETTA GOBELL Reality: Two rough prototypes of That’s the chocolate they sell at the tien-
interactions with edible materials in- da, so I wasn’t able to coat the marsh-
spired by animals (hummingbird and mallow fondant in chocolate to make
anteater) and limited to what I could ants. So…they’re larvae.
find at the tienda and locally. The original bugs were too big and
heavy to be lifted by honey, so I had to
HUMMINGBIRDS & FLOWERS make them pretty tiny and shapeless.
Idea: Fill edible flowers with nec- I couldn’t really figure out the
tar that people eat sipping through a right fruit to put the bugs in, so I end-
small straw, like a hummingbird. ed up chopping some green coconuts in
Reality: marzipan made with salt- half and using those to hold the “bugs.”
ed almonds from the tienda is an ugly Supplies: Palm fronds from An-
color due to the skins. dy’s front yard coated in Dinacon hon-
The humidity makes it nearly im- ey.
possible to hold a structure with just al- Bugs made from a combo of
monds and sugar. Cornstarch helped, as marshmallows pilfered from a bag of
does lots of drying out in the fridge. chocolate cereal and powdered sugar.
Using the blender did NOT work— Green coconuts pulled from a
and then I realized there was a food pro- roadside tree.
The goji berries mostly got blended ENJOYING THE EXPERIENCE
in, but there are some chunks. Be a hummingbird: Grab a little
Supplies: Marzipan flowers: food straw and put it in your mouth. Sip some
processor, 2 snack packs of salted, roast- of the nectar from one of the flowers.
ed almonds, a bunch of powdered sugar, For advanced mode, flap your
goji berries and algae (blue and green— arms like wings the whole time. Ha!
thanks Elliot!) for color, cornstarch to try Grab a flower from the plate as a
to deal with the humidity, some marsh- sweet snack if you want.
mallow fondant for the extra flowers. Be an anteater: Grab a palm frond
Nectar: the flesh of jobo fruits and dab some honey along one side.
(Spondias mombin, thanks Jorge for the Put the wide end in your mouth
ID!) gathered from the ground (thanks and use it to collect some “bug larvae”
Sid for the idea!) boiled with sugar, wa- from one of the coconut shells.
ter, honey, and cornstarch to create a You can eat the larvae if you
nectar, then used the boiled fruit for the want—they’re very, very sweet.
center of the extra flowers, and straws I
took from the coffee shop at the Mira-
flores locks.
Idea: create small “bugs” out of

P-186 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference

P-188 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-189
Exploring around Gamboa on trails and


streets, I became fascinated with these
flower-shaped seedpods. They appear as
woody flowers, nearly blooming to re-
lease their inner fruit, and then expand-
EMILY VOLK ing greater as they dry. This seedpod stalk
was the first jungle object that I picked up
as debris in the streets of Gamboa, and it
served as my first inspiration for a basic
bio-hacking LED light project.

Personal Process
What follows is a quick and easy tutorial for a basic
natural object bio-augmentation project. This can serve
Decorative Light: Personally, I explored
as a simple lesson plan to explore bio-hacking to merge
various ways to rig this seedpod stalk as a
technology with natural objects and the directionality
full LED light that could decorate a space
of LEDs.
as a hanging decorative light. For this, I
experimented with various conductive
materials provided by Dinalab, includ-
ing conductive thread and copper tape. I
hoped to use a conductive wiring material
that would either blend in to the seedpod
stalk, or add aesthetic detail in the form of
an attractive color or form. I did not set-
tle on a favorite method for this full-stalk
augmentation, and I encourage others to
pick up this process to explore different
modes of creating a lamp with many seed

Tactile Engagement: I also explored vari-

ous interaction designs using LEDs to in-
spire tactile and up-close exploration of
this seedpod I found to have such a fasci-
nating shape and process of opening. In
this exploration, I used LEDs activated by
a DIY button where squeeze intensity and
location determined which LED would
light, and LED brightness. These LEDs
and the tactile button control were meant
to encourage a viewer to pick up the seed-
pod stalk and explore both its structure
and LED light augmentation as a way to
encourage close observation of a natural

P-190 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-191
Project Tutorial: Quick educational lesson plan to explore bio-augmentation and LED


In this quick tutorial, we explore a basic bio-augmentation project of adding an LED to

a dried seedpod in order to make a quick and easy light. This project highlights the di-
rectionality of LEDs, and explores how technology and nature can merge to create new
and innovative forms based on personal interest and exploration of natural objects.

5V coin cell battery


The miraculous element of this project is how perfectly the base of one of these fully
opened seedpods fits a standard 5V coin cell battery. This served as inspiration for this
project, and allows the little LED product to be a compact and pretty sturdy unit!

Basics of LEDs: LED stands for “light-emitting diode.” A diode is a semiconductor de-
vice which only conducts electricity in one direction. An LED is a particular type of
diode that emits light when current passes through it in the positive to negative direc-
tion. On a basic LED, you can tell which side is positive for wiring, because the positive
prong is longer.

To fashion your own seedpod light, first note which side of your LED is positive (longer
wire) and which side is negative (shorter wire). Then, extend the prongs of your LED
horizontally, and carefully place your LED into the center of your seedpod. Position
the LED prongs as close to the base of the pod as possible, and between “petals” of
the pod. To secure your LED in your seedpod, carefully bend the prongs of your LED
down with tension, which will secure your LED in your seed pod.

From here, bend your LED prongs. Bend the negative prong to lay horizontally across
the back of your pod, as close to the base as possible. Then, bend your positive prong
above this, but leave slightly more space from the back of the seedpod. Make sure the
positive and negative prongs are not touching, as this will short-circuit your LED.

This little pocket between LED wires forms the fixture for your coin cell battery! Place
your 5V coin cell battery face up (positive side up), and secure by clamping down the
positive LED prong over the battery. Keep bending until the battery is snugly secured
in the seedpod and firmly contacting the negative LED prong.

Your LED should now be lit, leaving you with a completed little bio-augmented seed-
pod light! Make as many as you want, now that you know the basics of LED direction-
ality and can experiment beyond with bio-augmentation.

P-192 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-193
We are an improvisational comedy duo
based out of Berlin and our work--pri-
UNTITLED FILM / WHO DIRECTS THE BIRDS marily in live performance--has always
been a blend of our shared interests/
professional occupations as a neurobi-
NACHO SANGUINETTI & TREVOR SILVERSTEIN ologist and a filmmaker, respectively.
Double XL For this project, we set out to make a
short film with Gamboa and the rainfor-
est as our backdrop. The idea: a scientist
(Nacho) working in isolation at a remote
jungle field station notices a series of im-
possible results in his field experiments
and eventually becomes consumed by
the jungle itself.

In the process, we also decided to make

a second film, a feature-length docu-
mentary. The idea: nearing the end of
their collaboration, a scientist (Nacho)
works with his filmmaker/comedy part-
ner (Trevor) to direct his first-ever film
in the jungle.

These two projects involved a heavy

amount of improvisation in crafting a
story during our time at Dinacon and
taking advantage of the cinematic set-
ting of Gamboa, the equipment at Di-
nalab, and the other conference partici-
pants, who could lend their unique skills
and artistry to the project.

The final product of the projects--the

edited short film and on-going feature--
is being completed in Berlin.

P-194 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-195
Jorge Medina casts plaster animal footprints in
the wild. He uses leaves to carry them back and
then wash them out at Dinalab for an exhibition.

P-196 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-197
Department of Amphibological Research: Specimen #006

Date: March 18, 2019

Location: Gamboa, Panama

Collected by: DiNaLab

Observations: every year, usually

around March, near the town of Gam-
boa, this unidentified species of ants has
been observed collecting fallen flowers
and using them as colourful masks in
prolonged processions and competitive
dance rituals, believed by some to be an
ancient celebration of Spring.

P-198 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-199
It is the first time (as far as we know) that

this creature was documented digital-
(Neptune Ant) is a strange alien/robot/
ant-fairy, which was believed to be a
AMIT ZORAN, AYELET SELLA myth until now. Anyway, we found one
in Gamboa’s forest during Dinacon, and
apparently, it lights at dark! What we
know about it is that it has a symbiotic
relationship with a cicada (it is consid-
ered the symbol of victory and cour-
age in battle), especially against its main
enemy, the GRETA AMPHITRITE. Ac-
cording to the legend, Neptune’s wife
was Amphitrite, a water nymph that be-
trayed Neptune during the battle on the
Chagres River and was cast away from
the kingdom, being hunted ever since.

Hooray!!! We were lucky enough to capture

the elusive GRETA AMPHITRITE! This intan-
gible creature is thought to be extinct as it
has many natural enemies and predators
who feed on its nourishing spirit. Thanks for
Andy and Dinacon (@ Gamboa, Panama) for
allowing for such an astonishing experience.

Dedicated to all forms of beauty out there.

P-200 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-201
Gamboa is a special place. For me, it silence; and the tippy-toed movement of

stands as this last remainder of a time the small agoutis contrast this apparently
that still holds on to some houses and suburban space.
whole neighborhoods in Panama: the
entire canal zone is filled with these Gamboa fascinates me. It was the last
HERIBERTO PINZÓN, images of wooden houses, a hundred town of the canal zone I was able to
Classical Composer years old, standing in a far too organized visit. In the 90s, our family would vis-
manner, in the middle of the jungle, it relatives as far as Paraiso, and I was
surrounded by the remains of an old, acquainted with the Ancon and Balboa
foreign technology, and signs that warn areas, so part of my childhood revolved
Los jardines en silencio you that this place, now open, was once
a separate world, among another. How-
around these wooden houses surround-
ed by huge trees, the best evenings, and
the silent gardens Heriberto Pinzón ever, something has changed in these a smell in the water and in the wood of
Como esperando un tren fantasma places: the jungle stands, but the houses the house that set it apart from anywhere
q = 70 bpm age and have fallen to a mixture of decay else I had been in the country.
b ˙ ˙ œ œ nœ bœ ˙ . œ œ nœ bœ w
& b b b b 44 w œ œ œ œ ˙ œ ˙
and random integration in a city where
Flute they don’t belong, and everything that My arrival at Dinacon was quick. I didn’t
p made them what they were now expands want to spend many hours in traffic, so
& b b 44 Œ Œ œ œ
into the future of the forgotten. Gam- as soon as I could, I packed my car, took
œ œ œ . ˙.
œ ˙ œ w œ œ ˙. w
Clarinet in B b boa indeed, as most canal zone towns, a good lunch and a coffee, and was set to
w gg wwww gg wwww œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ œ œœ œœ œœ œœ œœ ˙ ˙˙ has changed, but the distance between drive to Gamboa. I took the “essentials”:
& b bbb 44 gggg www ggg w ggg w œ ˙ it and any nearby inhabited area of the computer, music paper, books about the
gg w g g zone isolates it almost completely. The canal, speakers, a guitar, and a simple
P isolation provides a separation between Yamaha keyboard that would help me
œœ œœ œœ œœ
œœœ œœ œœ œ ˙˙ ˙˙

? bb 4 œœ œœ œœ œœ
the outside world of the city and the compose whatever it was that this town
bbb 4 ∑ ∑ ∑ & œ œ œœ œ œ œ œ œ œœ œ ˙ actual time that we are living in. A train would inspire in me, probably something
that once communicated the place with nostalgic. Once I arrived, I was greeted
œ œ ˙ ˙. œ nœ bœ
B b b b b b 44 w œ˙ œ œ œ the rest of the canal zone won’t stop for by Andy and some of the Dinasaurs (or
w œ œ œ œ w passengers, and for years the only way Dinacon participants), was given the tour
p p to enter, or leave the town was through a of the house, and later went to a hike to

? b b b 44
single-lane bridge that served as crossing Pipeline road. This would be a thing that
bb w ˙. œ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ
w w w
for both the train and cars alike. Even I enjoyed particularly during my time at

p during the American canal administra- Dinacon: there were so many things to
œ œ œ œ ˙. œn œb œ
œ œ œ œ
tion, Gamboa was considered a faraway do that I was not aware of, most of them
b ˙
& b bbb w w œ œ œ œ ˙
place. Not many desired to be sent to involving nature and technology, that
work in this isolated town of lakes and ignited this fascination with an aspect of
jungle. In its later days, the last vestiges the town and its surroundings, besides
&bb w Œ œ œ œ œ ˙. ˙. œ w Œ œ œ of a community were slowly fading, and the historical part. This town is ruled by
B b Cl.
œ œ ˙. the town became a place separated from nature and science, especially biology.
ggww œœ œ œœ œœœ œœœœœœœœœœœœ œœœ œ œœœœœ œ œœœœœœœœœœœ œœ œœœ œ
time, silent, but beautiful.
bb b b œœœ œœœ œœœœœœ œœœœœœœœœœ œœœ œ œœœœœœ œ œœœœ œœœ œœœ œœœ œ

& b œ œ
I was able to learn to program a little,
From the remains of the old Catholic watch bats in the wild at night, and see
p f
bb b ggg www
Pno. church, to the crumbling old theater, species that I would have only seen in

& bb g ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑
Gamboa gives this ambiance of a ghost books. And I was there to make music,
town: a century old wooden fire station which I did, but I think I ended up learn-
˙ ˙. œn œb œ stands alongside the abandoned post ing more than that I could have ever
B bbbbb w w w œ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ œœ œ œ
office; from the baseball fields to the taught back. My stay was a short one, but
Vla. pool; the various skeletal structures of for the time I was there I took up a cor-
p p old churches contrast with the still glo- ner of Dinalab’s living room, and set up
? bb b œ œ œ œ ˙
rious houses on the top of the hill, filled my little “Studio.”
Vc. bb w w ˙. œ œ œ w w with lush heliconia flowers, mahogany
p trees, and tall palms; the calls of howler I would compose mostly at night, since
monkeys in the distant jungle break the by that time the lab was quiet, and I had

P-202 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-203
the living room to myself. My keyboard
was very basic and had no touch sensi-
bility, so I had to be especially careful
in not having it at full volume while I
worked up until eleven or midnight.
During the day, I would run and exer-
cise. It got me more acquainted with
parts of the town I had only passed by
in the car. Seeing everything slowly
gave me a sense of this place I hadn’t
experienced. I took footage of birds at
dusk, the passing of the train, pictures
of places, everything that could get me
prepared to work on this piece I’d try to
tackle for five days. I was planning on
working with a historical focus on the
town, but the experience through the
various Dinacon activities got me closer
to that more “Nature” side of the town Stages of drawing an Ant Bird by Jose Riascos
I had put aside for some time. I tried
imitating bird calls with the guitar for a
while, tried to work with animal sound
in the night, but I would eventually
return to this historical aspect, one that
would work with a ghostly air, nostalgia,
and the passing of the times, and in this
town’s case, the absence of it.

Initially “Los pueblos en los jardines

solitarios” was the name of the piece;
literally: “The towns in solitary gar-
dens”, I tried to recreate the passing of
the train with an extended Gb chord on
piano. It gave a very passing, yet still,
sonority, and this tonality possessed an
airy and wide timbre that immediately
caught my attention. Next would be the
ensemble itself. Working with varied
quartets in the past made me decide on
the woodwind/strings quartet, with a
backing piano for extensions and col-
ors. The final instrumentation was flute,
clarinet, viola, cello, and piano. The
piece came to be called “Los jardines en
silencio” or “the silent gardens,” and the
link to listen to it is here:


P-204 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-205
I came to Panama following the SOMA A simple air pump was initially connect-

Summer residency in Mexico City, ed to the water whistle, but the airflow
where I had been thinking about sound, was insufficient to create sound. A larger
Latin American folk art, and mediated blower fan was sourced from some kind
relationships with nature. I picked up a of smelling contraption that Andy had
TULLY ARNOT ceramic water whistle - an object with lying around, and this worked much
Ceramic bird whistle, silicone tube, blower fan, microcontroller, a long pre-hispanic history, which also better.
air, sound now exists as a mass produced (possibly
imported) object in markets across the My first couple of days were spent on
city. hikes alone, mostly on La Laguna Trail,
where I immersed myself in the envi-
ronment. I happened upon some orchid
bees, one of the main creatures I had
hoped to encounter in Panama. This
site, where I would often come to film
the orchid bees, was a natural intersec-
tion of animal life. I was almost knocked
over by a group of agoutis running
through the jungle, too focussed look-
ing through my lense, and perhaps too
still for them to really notice I was there.

I made friends with Päivi, and over the

course of our stay, we formulated a plan
to host an exhibition of our work to-
gether in the jungle. Eventually the plan
to show other humans fell through, but
I took the piece to La Laguna to exhibit
for the orchid bees, agoutis, toucans and
blue morphos which I had encountered
on the site, at 9°07’08.7”N 79°41’41.8”W.

From exhibiting the work at Dinalab,

I learned that mounting the bird with
some flexible tube extending beyond
the metal support would help facili-
tate the warbling sound. I’ve since built
the work with a finer 3mm aluminium
rod support structure, which naturally
wobbles to create a more authentic bird

A pair of them are currently exhibited

at the Coventry Biennial, in a disused
national health services building, at
52°24’33.1”N 1°30’38.5”W.

Now that I’ve refined the design, I hope

to reexhibit them in the wild, hopefully
observing any possible interactions that
may occur with local animals.

P-206 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-207
Wild Behavior is an ongoing project to animals can choose to participate in a

develop a low-cost, open-source plat- simple game where their choices will
form for testing the perceptual and cog- tell us something about how they think.
nitive abilities of animals in the wild. For example, if a light cues the animal
This year at Dinacon, I developed a new to a location, they can get a treat. I then
JON GILL version of the Wild Behavior experi- vary the intensity of the light and ob-
Designer, Architect, Visualizer mental platform, first deployed at Di- serve when animals make correct and
nacon 1. This version was designed to incorrect decisions. In this version, they
accommodate a wide range of experi- encounter two response ports, each
ments that can be run using the device, baited with small bowl of chocolate milk
as well as increase the stability, wireless (rodents love chocolate milk). Each re-
connectivity, and discreteness of earlier sponse port is outfitted with LEDs, break
models. beam sensors, and capacitive touch sen-
sors. When the animal starts drinking
The premise is to provide the opportu- the chocolate milk, the sensors register
nity for wild animals to investigate what the licking and launch an experiment.
appears to be a rat trap, only to discover
a ‘rodent casino’ inside. The idea is that

P-208 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-209
P-210 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-211
“Shedding one’s skin in a new era” is earthworm that aerates the soil? What


an artistic and bio- metamorpholog- position do I adopt in relation to inter-
ical project that I implemented at the active technology? A critical examina-
Digital Naturalism Conference 2019 in tion of one’s lifestyle forces one to live
Gamboa, Panama. It is a visual work with one’s own art.
PÄIVI MAUNU tropical rainforest plants, their shadows,
and animals such as ants. By “a new era,” I am referring to the
Anthropocene and humankind’s pro-
I used Performental Art, a combination found geological effect on a changing
of performance, environmental, and world. My work with the Biomimeticx2
community art. The purpose of this team responds to these changes via re-
method is to instigate a deep under- search that attempts to discover in the
standing of one’s own role in the ecosys- nano-world biomimetic solutions to the
tem by observing, studying, analyzing, management of eco-catastrophe. Mac-
imitating, and blurring the distinction rocosmic photographic material shared
between the human animal and other by the DiNaCon community is ana-
natural beings and systems. In medita- lyzed, interpreted, and combined with
tive work, I reflect on the possibilities of microcosmic material from biologists
Posthumanism. How would I thank the and other experts in various fields.

Hungry ants consuming a disappearing self portrait

P-212 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-213
Through art, the project aims to bring us closer to a realization of our existence as part
of a whole and to the recognition that, by destroying our environment, we are per-
petuating a process of self-annihilation. The methods the project uses include artistic
and biological metamorphoses – transformations – that have been implemented in
performance and environmental art works. Openness to interpretation as well as tol-
erance of chance and contingency open the project up to wonder and the restoration
of seasonal change.

Heartfelt thanks,
Andy for all possible reasons
Hannah Marti & ants, Jorge & camera,
Dani & 360°camera
Hannah Marti’s experimental research with
Supported by Frame Contemporary Art Finland
leaf cutter ants.
P-214 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-215
Walking around Gamboa, it’s hard not

to be mesmerized by the superhighways
of ants recognizable by their large, dis-
tinct paths of wobbly leaves.

ANN GERONDELIS RAJA SCHAAR Our team dove into observational re-
Drexel University search, expert knowledge, internet find-
ings, and one amazing book found at the
field research station to find out more
about these mesmerizing creatures.

Getting swole like an ant?

A fitness app for digital naturalists and
folks who think Leafcutter Ants are su-
perfit superorganisms.

This short workout invites you to be the

ant, strengthen your body, and learn
about ants’ intimate relationship with
mother earth.

P-216 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-217
Over a four-day period, we designed,
tested, and prototyped our app with fel-
low conference attendees (surrounded
by the rainforest no less). The content
was key in delivering an experience that
mimics the fascinating farming of fun-
gus and other leafcutter ant behaviors.

We hope this gives you a glimpse into

the above- and below-the-ground world
of the leafcutter ant.

Thanks to all the Dinacon attendees,

Henrietta, Mango the sloth, and Smith-
sonian scientists who inspired us during
our time in Gamboa!

My first project My first project Raja Schaar Raja Sc

Antfact 5 Antfact 6

P-218 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-219
This project was an attempt to make a all of the electronic bits and learn about

cheap DIY submarine. There are very circuits, current, and motors. The whole
few cheap kits for teachers and research- project only cost about 70 dollars and
ers that give access to the underwater as a kit, it could teach basic electronics ,
worlds around us. This was designed as a and problem solving. It also lets people
JONAS KRAMER-DICKIE simple wired ROV with a camera, lights, see the water through different perspec-
and a few small DC motors that would tives.
be able to dive and maneuver while de-
livering live camera feed to the surface. Overall, this was a very good first test
and prototype, I think that, with a small
The body is made out of bamboo be- amount of tweaking, I could have a
cause it was abundant and invasive functional cheap ROV!
in Gamboa. If I complete this project
again, I would use a water bottle or an- Completing this project in a beautiful
other seal-able cylindrical object. The and different location surrounded by
internals seemed to function well, but beautiful and different people helped.
problems arose with the improvised What an amazing ‘Conference.’
body. It was still fun to play around with

P-220 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-221
I work on a project called Tympan,

BINAURAL FIELD RECORDING which is a hardware tool for hearing

aid research. It’s a pretty sick bit of
audio kit, and it can be used for much
JOEL MURPHY more than just hearing aid algorithm
@BIOMURPH research. For example, you can hear
and record sounds in the ultrasonic
range (bats and stuff!). I used the 3D
printers at Dinalab to make a Binau-
ral Field Recording Headdress. I used
two SLR camera hot-swap mics and
a stereo cable splitter. The headdress
can be worn or mounted on a tripod.

P-222 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-223
University of California
Santa Barbara, Media Arts
and Technology

The sketches were made most-

ly in a state of panic or despair,
sometimes both.

Sounds weird, right?

I suffer from anxiety disorder.

It started in March this year, and

I didn’t know at the time.

I just started to feel really weird

and wake up everyday feeling
like my heart is about to burst.
I was like: oh that’s normal, I
probably have some heart prob-

Went to the cardiologist,

no heart problem.

I like sloths.

They move really slowly, and

they seem to be smiling all the
I arrived in Panama in a state of
I was really lucky to see at least panic. I had been stranded in SF
two sloths every day during my 5 for 31 hours before getting there
days there. They hang out in Ce- … didn’t get much sleep at all
cropia trees and on fences. during that 31 hours.


Leaf cutter ants are great.

They’re always really busy, mov-
ing their pieces of leaves. If you
try to block their highway with
a stick, they’ll figure out how to
work around it, and keep going.
P-224 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-225
est and swam in a waterhole full
Some times you just got to keep of “kissy fish” (Red garra), at least
going. that’s what they called it when
I first heard of them. I’ve nev-
My good friend and roommate er seen them in the wild before.
Michal, who I met on my first They come up and eat your dead
night in Gamboa, was making skin, and they also bite on oth-
some decorations for trees. She’s er stuff floating on the surface of
great. I like her a lot. We talked the water.
about buddhism, meditation,
and … boys. Susan, our other Peter does research on Cecropia
roommate and good friend lat- Trees. He told us about the the
er joined the discussion. I liked symbiotic relationship between
staying in our little barrack when the plant and the ants (leaf cut-
it’s raining outside. The rain ters if I remember correctly).
sound gives me a sense of peace The ants eat the tree, but they
and comfort. also protect the tree from ani-
mals. That’s why the sloths are
The little men on the roadsigns so itchy all the time. It’s because
all have great butts. the ants are bothering the sloths
so they wouldn’t harm the tree.
Agoutis are a type of strange and If you knock on the tree a few
cute animal native to Gamboa. times the ants will come out of
They jump around places and the hollow trunk and try to find
seem to eat grass. where you were knocking, and
get ready to attack.
The Mimosa plants respond to
touch rapidly. I’ve seen them in On our last day we went on a
stores for sale when I was a child. tour to the native villages. A lo-
Back then they didn’t respond as cal guide gave another nice tour.
quickly. In China we call them There was a type of tree called
“Shy Grass”, because they shy the “Water Tree”. When you hit
away the moment you touch it you can hear the water inside
them. of the trunk. The guide told us
this type of tree grow really fast
Michal used some power tools by sucking up all the water they
to drill holes in coconut shells. can get. They grow to the size
Some of them have rotten parts shown in my sketch in only a few
that are easy to break. She said years.
“It’s funny how hard it is to pen-
etrate it, but so easy to break it”. Laser frogs are great. I forgot
I though that was really interest- what they’re called scientifical-
ing. Humans are like that too, es- ly. They make these laser sounds
pecially their hearts. like “pew pew”, in the storm
drains at night. I never saw what
Jen used a motion sensor for her they looked like. But I enjoyed
project. I thought she said “emo- their little techno music sessions.
tion sensor”. I’d be down to have
an “emotion sensor”. I can hold
it in my hand and it’ll tell me
how I’m feeling. Peter gave a re-
ally great tour at Pipeline road.
We walked through the rainfor-

P-226 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-227
DINACON, THE MAKER CAMP AT THE EDGE OF THE Originally published 10 September 2019 by
Cherise Fong
the main workspace open to all Dina-
saurs, and Adopta, where all meals were
JUNGLE IN PANAMA served and where most of the partic- ipants slept, also part of a larger local
nacon-le-maker-camp-au-bord-de-la-jungle- conservation project instigated by Guido
CHERISE FONG du-panama/ Berguido.
One year after the first Digital Natu- After dinner, while some participants
ralism Conference in Thailand, the remained in the dining room to chat
principles of Dinacon, held this year in and others continued working on their
The second edition of Dinacon concluded in Panama, are still the same: interact with projects, one Dinasaur might use the
Gamboa, Panama, after four very full weeks of the natural environment, exchange with
other “Dinasaurs,” and create on site.
convivial space of Dinalab to give a fo-
cused presentation or workshop. During
August at the intersection of excursions into na- the last week of August, Josh Michaels
ture and experimental art-techno projects. This is the applied concept of “Digital
Naturalism” as defined by Andy Quit-
gave a presentation on machine learning
without machines (using the analogy of
meyer, instigator of Dinacon and its an image pixelized beyond human rec-
exploratory and creative activities in ognition to call attention to the inherent
the field, who organized and personally prejudices of AI); Tiare Ribeaux gave a
hosted this extraordinary summer camp kitchen workshop to brew bioplastics,
on the edge of the jungle, where one according to her own recipe; and Grace
hundred artists-technologists-research- Grothaus demonstrated an example of
ers-scientists crossed paths at various photogrammetry based on her exper-
times throughout the month of August iments with a dedicated software and
2019. lightbox.

Far from the idyllic isolation of Koh Lon, One afternoon, Hiroo (read his inter-
the small island off Phuket where Dina- view in Makery) gave an Ayurvedic honey
con 1 took place in 2018, Dinacon 2 was workshop in the form of a gustatory, im-
held in the heart of a well-established mersive, and purifying experience that
scientific and historical ecosystem in the ended with a burning sensation directly
post-colonial village of Gamboa, at the in the eyes. One evening, Scott (Seamus)
confluence of the protected Soberanía Kildall (read his interview in Makery) of-
rainforest and the intercontinental Pana- fered his expertise in Arduino to anyone
ma Canal. in need (after exposing the very limit-
ed control of my deconstructed bicycle
In this context, the topography of this light, he helped me connect a motion
ephemeral summer camp was spread out sensor to my LCD display in order to
over several physical locations, namely eventually trigger 16-character strings of
Dinalab, Andy’s home makerspace and poetry).

Hiroo cleanses the eyes with local hon-

ey at Dinalab. © Cherise Fong

“Emotiscent” by Ramy. The bioartist invited visitors to write down

their emotional reactions to scents from various objects found on site.
Her work-in-progress aims to explore the quality of life of people who
have lost their sense of smell, for example by wearing a face mask to
protect them from air pollution during wildfires. -Cherise Fong
P-228 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-229
Jorge Medina in the doorway of Dinal- Brewing bioplastics with Tiare Ribeaux
ab. © Cherise Fong in the Dinalab kitchen. © Cherise Fong

among birders, which wanders deep

Another day at Dinalab, Ramy Kim in- into the Soberanía forest—a precious
terviewed a few Dinasaurs about smells path into the world of creatures that
associated with concepts and emotions hide under the canopy by day and by
Photogrammetry demonstration by Grace Grothaus. © associated with smells. Jorge Medina, night: howler monkeys, capybaras, coa-
Cherise Fong Panamanian biology student and region- tis, anteaters, ants, cicadas, fireflies, frogs,
al bird expert, lent me his voice to record snakes, fluorescent mushrooms… and
the Spanish names of creatures seen hundreds of species of birds.
during my stay.
Arduino workshop: Seamus (rear center) helps Janne with Just before dawn, Ashlin Aronin dipped
Dinacon even extended to the famous his DIY infrared camera into a pond,
the code for her cyborg arm, Mónica Rikić works with Ru-
Smithsonian Tropical Research Insti- while Lisa Schonberg listened to conver-
ben Oya, Andy demonstrates different applications, others tute (STRI), a newly built research center sations among ants, and Kristina Dutton
do tests to measure body temperature. © Cherise Fong symbolic of the expatriated communi- set up omnidirectional microphones
ty of scientists established in Gamboa along the path that she would pick up on
as early as the 1920s. Throughout the the way back. I recorded the drumming
month, Dinasaurs were treated to private of a woodpecker, the chatter of parrots,
group visits of the Ant Lab and Bat Lab, the elusive song of an ant-thrush… That
as well as the protected pond for túngara same night, Andy led an adventurous
frogs, a native species known for its chip- group of rubber-booted, headlamped
tune-like calls. hikers through a stream to observe local
jungle nightlife.
In the Ant Lab, we observed several con-
tained colonies of leafcutter ants, where Extending northeast from Gamboa and
certain individuals were color-coded in the Panama Canal is the Chagres river,
painted dots to identify them by age. teeming with wildlife and vegetation
Current research involved the inter- as far as the eye can see, where we ven-
generational memory of leafcutter ants ture out in kayaks at dawn to explore
to pass on the food preferences of the this burgeoning landscape. Two days in
fungus that they cultivate. We were even a row, we saw a caiman (the same one?)
invited to place a tiny piece of their nest gliding by silently near the shore. Lisa
on our tongue—tasted like mushroom! and Kristina plunged microphones, hy-
drophones, and underwater video cam-
Just a few kilometers from Gamboa is eras to capture uncommon sounds and
Pipeline Road, already world famous images. I paddled further up the Chagres

P-230 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-231
with my binoculars and saw a caracara, Right in Gamboa around the clock, we Madhu is honey in Sanskrit.
turkey vultures, toucans, jacanas, egrets, are very likely to hear or see among our The project introduced several usages
herons, terns. resident neighbors: agoutis (ubiquitous
of honey according to Ayurveda.
but skittish) in the garden; a sloth hang-
The Chagres was also the site of deploy- ing in a tree; black vultures perched on In Ayurveda, for a long time honey has
ment for the “Datapods” created by Sea- garbage cans; adult and juvenile owls been used not only as food, but also as
mus and Michael Ang for their project between branches; chatty parakeets at medicine. It can be used as eye drops,
Unnatural Language. The site-specific dusk; scintillating blue butterflies; sprint- external applications, enema liquid, na-
installation sonified electric variations ing basilisks and other lizards; the always sal drop, as well as internal usages.
in water and plants through customized impressive armies of leafcutter ants; and
circuits attached to both bamboo debris symphonies of túngara frogs singing at
and plastic garbage found in the river. high volume until you approach, laying It has been described to have prop-
And since the second rule of Dinacon is their eggs to hatch in nests of foam in- erties like scraping, tissue generating,
that every project must be documented, I side puddles of mud in the street. disinfecting, as well as anti-parasitic,
stayed on the river to help film the artists anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial etc.
deploying their Datapods in the wild. At Dinacon, every excursion, every hike -Hiroo
in the woods, every walk around the
At the heart of this vast territory of ex- block is a new opportunity to meet these
ploration is the little village of Gamboa, creatures, invisible or inaudible, hidden
like a residential suburb of the Smithso- in plain sight or just under the surface
nian, just a 40-minute drive away from of our immediate or expanded environ-
Panama City, which survived the con- ment. An opportunity to interact with
struction of the Panama Canal in the ear- them artistically, scientifically or playful-
ly 20th century by preserving its partic- ly—and maybe in passing, to fall in love
ular history through active community, with the jungle.
abandoned buildings (church, post office,
swimming pool, etc.) and traditional
houses, all on the doorstep of the tropi-
cal rainforest.

A smaller colony of leafcutter ants, with visible nest (bottom left) and
queen (top right), in Hannah Marti’s Ant Lab at STRI. © Cherise Fong

P-232 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-233
I led a group through the process of We also used the ‘breadboard’ style PCB
building an Arduino ‘from scratch’. protoboard that Adafruit throws into
DIY ARDUINO WORKSHOP The end result is bootloaded as ‘Arduino
Pro Mini 3V 8MHz’ powered directly by
the box when you order from them.
This makes it easy because the pads are
a LiPo battery. connected just like a plastic breadboard.
JOEL MURPHY We had six teams of two dinasaurs col-
@biomurph INGREDIENTS laborate on placing the
• 1x ATMega328P components, soldering them in place
• 1x 10K Resistor (to pull up reset pin) on the perf board, and then bootloading
• 1x Pushbutton Switch (for reset pin) the ATmega using Arduiono. The idea
• 1x 0.1uF Capacitor (btw DTR and re- was to attach Zigbee radios and create
set pin) a mesh network in the jungle around
• 1x 8MHz Crystal Adopta.
• 2x 18pF Capacitors (to load the crys-
tal) The only thing NOT on this diagram is
• 1x LED (for pin 13) the 10uF capacitor. That can be placed
• 1x 330 Ohm Resistor (for LED) anywhere between 3V and GND. Tradi-
• 1x 10uF Capacitor (between 3V and tionally, it would be placed ‘across the
GND) rails’ of the red and blue lines on the
• Assorted jumper wires sides of the PCBs in the first picture.

P-234 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-235

This simple project involved creating a had tiny hairs, making them sticky to the
large-scale physical representation of touch. This allowed them to be attached to
data, partly using found natural materials. the threads with no additional adhesive,
The data represented was the duration of and they could be easily repositioned.
attendance of participants at DinaCon.
The project was participatory— Dinacon The grid was created with thread suspend-
attendees added data points to represent ed horizontally and vertically from metal
the duration of their own attendance at posts. Each vertically-suspended thread
the conference. was weighed down by a needle secured to
the bottom, to keep it in place despite air
Additional data was filled in from confer- currents. The representation was created
ence records. just outside the Dinalab in Gamboa, Pan-
ama, and measured approximately 4m x
The representation was a histogram, the 2m. Thank you to John Girgis, Samantha
x-axis representing number of days at- Wong, Wythe Marschall, and Regina Si-
tended. Leaves served as data points on pos for their insightful contributions!
a suspended grid of threads. The leaves

P-236 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-237
Sid makes some jungle punk shirts with stencils and spray paint

P-238 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-239

An adaptation and implementation of:


Monitoring coastal PH using the cell

network. A proof-of-concept exercise
in using the cell network to remotely
(global) monitor a coastal array of float-
ing, solar-powered mesh-enabled sen-
The devices to be deployed are re-pro-
grammable, expandable with sensors to
meet monitoring requirements.

Key questions to be addressed:

0/ Will it float? Or float away? Dinacon coincided with El Dia de Rana Dorada (Golden Frog Day), when people from
1/ Is solar power sufficient for a floating around Panama came to visit the Amphibian Rescue Project. Visitors learn about the
sensor to record and transmit sensor work saving these basically extinct in the wild frogs from an invasive fungus
(PH) data?
2/ Does the Mesh capability translate
into an overall cost-saving factor?
3/ is the cell coverage a viable option
for areas to be monitored?
4/ and do people care?

Primary evaluation use-case as applica-

ble to the “Getting beachy about plas-
tic” Dinacon project.

Findings to be documented as blog

posts, git-pages, and possibly an in-

Bonus feature: can microbial power be

used to complement the solar panels?

P-240 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-241
The Internet of Things arrived. It helped rainforest.

us build a new network that we cannot
see or feel. one that we can plug into. Gamboa, Panama 2119
Gadget No. 1: Foluscent
How was this adapted into different cul-
DEREN GULER tures and environments? What infor- A bracelet, or wristband, that is equipped
mation proved necessary? What infor- with sensors capable of sensing vola-
mation was never worth sharing? tile organic-compounds (VOC) emitted
from plants in times of danger and a
This project explores the future of a terpene vaporizer that emits an identi-
Panamanian tribe who uses technology fied VOC.
to enter the existing mesh networks of
the plants in the rainforest. Gamboa, Panama 2119
Gadget No. 2: Gamposs
The native peoples of Panama histori-
cally develop techniques for collecting A headband or belt with sensors that de-
information from the natural land- tect VOC signals from flora in danger
scape. As they adopt technology into and indicate a safe direction for travel
their lives, we posit that they will inno- via pulses.
vate new tools to communicate with the

P-242 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference


We are creating a simple but rich map

of the whole network of people, proj-
ects, and affiliations present at Dinacon
2019 in Gamboa, Panamá.

P-244 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-245
Inspired by the scale detail of butterfly

BUTTERFLY INSTALLATION wings, my art piece at Dinacon cen-

tered on documenting microscopic
butterfly wing detail. I collected pho-
EMILY VOLK tos and videos from many species
DESIGNER, ARCHITECT, VISUALIZER over the course of my time at the
conference. This media is now por-
table, and I can convert these videos
and photos into more site-specific
installation pieces. Below you can see
microscopic detail of a butterfly head
region, including the right eye (right).

P-246 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-247
P-248 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-249
ON THE POTENTIAL FOR THE “There’s a real magic out here.” I heard shopping in Panama City during the
that exact sentence, with that exact phras- morning, and on our way back wondered
SUPERNATURAL ing, at least three times during my stay at
Dinacon. I heard the sentiment behind it
what, if anything, we could each display
during the Open House. Craig, profes-
countless times, and already knew what sionally a Materials Scientist, mused that
John Girgis the next set of words would be, too. To we could just run a simple experiment to
start: I learnt how-to and made some Ori- test whether or not it was a myth that peo-
gami birds that could flap their wings; I ple can predict watermelon quality prior
learnt how-to solder and made two dif- to opening them up. I told him I can con-
ferent DIY-Arduinos — and then used firm it’s not a myth because I knew for a
one to test variable water quality based on fact that I could do it. And we were off.
electrical current conductivity; I sketched On the Potential for the Supernatural
the rainforest slightly abstractly (and I think here hid another secret of the mag-
definitely too faintly); I was part of a duo ic of Dinacon: the complete self-unim-
with Leoni Voegelin that called ourselves portance of the participants. Just reading
The Cutie Agoutis — and produced a few through the Proceedings of the First Dig-
comedy ’shopped dystopic images for one ital Naturalism Conference, everyone felt
of the Dinacon Open Houses; I worked comfortable scaling back the scope of their
along with definitely professional writ- project and talking about their work in ex-
er Nate Walsh on a computer generated ploratory, hilarious, matter-of-fact ways.
poem; and I foraged for, helped design,
and helped film a costume for a movie! The conference itself requires so little of
Every step of the way, the work I produced the work that participants produce. A blog
was preceded by my learning the skillset post, an infographic, and an art display of
required to do it right before diving in. four sculptures with projected imagery all
count as ‘something’ and are all celebrat-
Part of the magic of Dinacon is just the ed as successes. The point isn’t to produce
sheer breadth of participant expertise and your best work, it’s to just produce. When
open expectation. The average partici- the barrier for success is so low, people ar-
pant probably had one or more graduate en’t afraid to invest their time in one an-
degrees, is an adjunct at a university, or is other’s projects, or to collaborate, because
a lifelong experimenter and artist. And yet they see their own work as complete and
they were here. In the middle of the rain- valuable, and are ready to spread that joy
forest, in the middle of the rainy season. with others. The other part of this is that
And it’s because they wanted to learn more with conference-wide projects, such as
from others at the conference. The tone spotting a minimum of two sloths a day,
of the conference was set early when one everyone was encouraged to be out and
of the requirements was to receive com- about together daily. With the confer-
mentary on your work from other people. ence-wide initiative to give talks in any
The socializing aspect was built into the shape or form, everyone felt like part of
conference structure, and the inclusivi- the project-building process could be in-
ty of attracting people from all walks of troducing people to their passions, and
life, as long as they self-selected to be part part of the receiving-feedback process
of an experimental conference, ensured could be having input from experts exter-
that everyone would be open to the in- nal to their field. Everyone was on equal
teraction — which led to people furiously footing all the time, and the conference
teaching each other everything they knew. structure and culture maintained the mo-
mentum required for people to get to
The largest (in scope) project I worked know and respect one another really easily.
on was with Craig Durkin where we pro-
duced some cutting edge watermelon “There’s a real magic out here.
quality prediction research for one of For some reason it’s really, real-
the Dinacon Open Houses. We had gone ly easy to make friends out here.”

P-250 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-251
I heard the words above, almost verba-
tim, multiple times. From people who
hadn’t even met each other due to not
having overlapping attendance days.

If enough people agree magic exists

in a place, if enough people’s hearts
feel the same way independently, if
enough people chant the same words
across conversations after feeling as
though they’re part of something larg-
er than themselves, maybe I can be
convinced that magic really exists.
I’m glad we have Dinacon in the
world, and feel like I found my
tribe. I hope it can be a vector for
change in everyone who reads this. .

P-252 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-253
Introduction tion and DinaLab gave the opportunity


Panama’s rainforests are some of the to classify the different species and learn
world’s most biologically diverse areas. about their colors and skin patterns.
Animals use camouflage tactics to blend in
with their surroundings, to disguise their Patterns
ANNA CARRERAS appearance. They mask their location, The skin of some animals show a self-
BAU Design College of Barcelona, Spain identity, and movement to avoid predators. or-dered spatial pattern formation. Cell
By the other hand in cities in many coun- growing and coloration creates some
tries the increased use of surveillance or-der resulting from the specific differ-
technologies have become part of the enti-ation of cell groups. In such com-
public and private landscape. Citizens plex systems cells are only in contact
lack of camouflage tactics to avoid these with their closest neighbors. Which are
forms of elevated vigilance. Can we learn this mor-phogenesis mechanisms where
and borrow tactics from animals to keep some or-der emerges from individual
away from this constant monitoring? cells? Which are the mathematical models
The FROGGY CAMOUFLAGE HAN- we can use to achieve this kind of growing
DLED FANS project proposes a play- patterns and gain some knowledge about
ful way to act upon our surveying world them? Can we simulate some frog’s skin
while learning from local frog coloration. visible regularities with a coded system?

Nature in Gamboa The mathematician Alan

Attending the Digital Naturalism Confer-
ence from August 26th to Sep-tember 1st Turing predicted the
offered the possibility to do several ex-
ploratory walks around Adopta un Bosque
mechanisms which give
station, La Laguna trail in Gamboa and
Pipeline road on the border of the Sober-
rise to patterns of spots
ania National Park. Animal watching in- and stripes [1].
cludes birds (thank you Jorge), frogs, mam-
mals and several butterflies and insects. The model is quite simple, it places cells in
A species’ camouflage depends on the a row that only interact with their adjacent
physical characteristics of the organ- cells. Each cell synthesizes two different
ism, the behavior of the specie and is types of molecules. And this molecules
influ-enced by the behavior of its pred- can diffuse passively to the adjacent cells.
ators. Background matching is perhaps The diffusion process makes the system
the most common camouflage tactic and and the whole result more homogeneous.
an-imals using this tactic are difficult to It tends to destroy any ordered structure.
spot and study. Another camouflage tac- Nevertheless the diffusion process with
tic is disruptive coloration that causes some interaction by the cell molecules
preda-tors to misidentify what they are drives to macroscopic ordered structures.
looking at. Other species use coloration The mechanism is called reaction–dif-
tactics that highlight rather than hide fu-sion system. It drives the emergence
their iden-tity. Warning coloration makes of order in a chaotic dynamic system [2].
predators aware of the organism’s toxic
or danger-ous characteristics. This type Code and interface
of camou-flage is called aposematism or A system using the Gray-Scott model was
warning coloration. coded in Processing language [3]. The
in-terface shows the animation of how
Studying camouflage tactics includes a frog skin evolves. The GUI also shows
animal observation and some readings. the sys-tem values that lead to that skin
Frogs are easier to spot and photograph pattern formation. These values and two
in Gamboa than insects or snakes. The select-ed colors generate a unique frog
animal books at Adopta un Bosque sta- pattern each time the system is started.
P-254 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-255
The spatial feeding system options and
the values that can be selected and ad-
just-ed are inspired by Gamboa’s frogs.
They derive from the observed and pho-
to-graphed species and from the consult-
ed books.

Camouflage DIY hand fans

Frog skin images are used to create light
folding hand fans. They are suitable
for Gamboa’s hot weather and help to
cam-ouflage inside the rainforest. They
can easily be taken home and used around
the world in several cities.
To build the hand fans two parts are
needed: the fan frame and the fan leaf.
The designed DIY hand fan is designed as
Conclusions and future work Different animal patterns and camouflage
a traditional Spanish hand fan. The frame
To act upon our surveying world tactics can be further investigated. It can
structure is made of a thin material that
cam-ouflage is one of the plans we can help us to achieve different and diverse
can be waved back-and-forth, birch tree
play. It rises issues of mimesis, crypsis, algorithms and colored results. They can
or pear tree wood.
percep-tion, privacy and identity. Some suit in different environments and they
artis-tic projects about fashion and cos- can help us camouflage from the increas-
The produced hand fans use 0.8mm thick
metics have been developed with this ing number of surveillance systems. A bat-
birch wood to make sure it can bend with-
idea, like CV Dazzle [4] and HyperFace tle between vigilance algorithms against
out breaking. The fabrication starts la-
[5], among others. The Froggy camou- the algorithms learned and bor-rowed
ser cutting the 16 fan ribs for the frame
flage handheld fans project sums up in from nature.
and printing the camouflage image. Cut
this direction creating hand fans inspired
the fan leaf, using scissors, as a half cir-
by Panama’s frogs camouflage strategies. References
cle measuring 210mm the exterior radius
We can gain some knowledge and learn [1] Alan Turing. The Chemical Basis of
and 95mm the inner radius.
from animals and their hiding techniques. Mor-phogenesis. 1952.
When the parts are ready put together the
Some animal camouflage skin coloration [2] Ricard V. Solé, Susanna C. Manru-
16 fan ribs, one wide rib at the beginning
can be modeled as a dynamic system that bia. Orden y Caos en Sistemas Comple-
and one at the end. Fix the fan ribs with
generates complex ordered patterns. We jos. 2000.
a m3 screw and nut, a metric screw with
can mathematically model and code the [3] Daniel Shiffman. Coding challenge
nominal diameter of 3mm or 0.12in. Ex-
system to simulate the growing process of #13: Reaction Diffusion Algorithm in p5.
tend the fan ribs as an opened hand fan.
frogs skin coloration. It helps us to bet- js. 2016.
Glue the fan leaf on the thiner exterior
ter understand how different frog species [4] Project CV Dazzle: Camouflage
part of each rib and allow the glue to dry.
have certain particular patterns. More- from face detection. 2010.
Finally, one rib at a time, put it above the
over it gives us some insight about how [5] Project HyperFace: False-Face Ca-
previous ones and fold the paper careful-
order can emerge from random initial mou-flage. 2017.
ly to create the folding shape.
Two different models of the Froggy
cam-ouflage handheld fans were creat-
ed: the green one is inspired by the Glass
frogs and the orange fan is inspired by the
Pum-ilio dart frog. Both frogs live in Pan-

P-256 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-257
In the early 1900s the Panama Canal was

forged through the jungles of Panama. This
shipping channel became a major factor in
the expansion of globalised trade. In many
ways, Panama’s Canal Zone represents the
Betty Sargent epitome of the Anthropocene. Industrial
progress rupturing unique ecosystems.

In this setting I was inspired by broken

nature. I collected introduced butter-
fly species, leaves that had been stripped
to their skeleton by destructive fungus,
dead insects and plant matter. I pre-
pared these samples and photographed
their finer qualities under microscope.
I also collected a selection of field re-
cordings using a hydrophone, two con-
tact mics and a stereo atmospheric mic.

Most audio recordings in

Panama’s Canal Zone con-
tain the sounds of engines. Video available at:
Sounds from passing ships,
tug boats, dredging ma-
chines, cargo trains and light
aircraft form the backdrop to
birdsongs, monkey calls and com/art/within/
frog choirs.
The clash of nature and industry is pal-
pable. Finally, I collected data relating
to the temperature, light, movement
and moisture of different ecosystems.
This was done using an Arduino and
a series of environmental sensors.

I presented the photo-microscopy imag-

es, audio and environmental data in an
Open Studio showing at the Digital Nat-
uralism Lab on 17 August 2019. The out-
come of this residency was later captured
in a 3-minute single channel video work.
This video features photo-microscopy
and audio recordings from three consec-
utive environmental art residences that I
undertook in 2019 – Digital Naturalism
(Gamboa, Panama), LabVERDE (Amazon,
Brazil) and the EV Residency (Rio, Brazil).
P-258 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-259
P-260 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-261
Our group found each other within the measure humidty and track move-

“Spiel && Objekt” MA program at the HfS ment from its surroundings. Meanwhile
Ernst Busch Berlin. We share the desire Leoni and Tom took visual inspiration
to develop an ecologic & non-anthropo- from Gamboa’s vibrating environment
centric view of arts. Relevant milestones to depict hybrid collage-ish landscapes
LENA MARIA EIKENBUSCH, JANNE NORA KUMMER, for us are monstrous & cyborg thinking, and monstrous plant creatures. The re-
TOMÁS MONTES MASSA, AND LEONI VOEGELIN kinetic sculptures, and object-orient- search of these entanglements served as
ed theatrical narratives. We imagined an inspiration to create these material
a hybrid creature oscillating between and virtual prototypes of techno-vege-
natural and digital spaces, combining tal objects. Speculating on the fusion of
human with non-human material as an organic material and new technologies
extension of the body. We divided into is for us an artistic urgency.
two workgroups: the “Prosthesis Team”
and the “Visuals Team”. Janne and Lena There couldn’t have been a better place
got busy with Arduino and built a cy- to develop these concepts and ideas
borg arm-extension which looked like than this jungle setting.
a wired, bamboo sci-fi glove and could

P-262 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-263
P-264 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-265
• The microscope was taken a short distance into the rainforest
Field Microscopy: Suitability of the and samples were collected and images taken in the field
OpenFlexure Microscope for Work in the
RainforestSUITABILITY OF 2 Software Issues
THE Julian Stirling
The OpenFlexure microscope has a Raspberry Pi[4] single board


computer built in. The microscope images using a Raspberry Pi
camera module, and the stage is moved using three stepper mo-
1 Introduction
tors driven by an open-source custom motor board known as a
Sangaboard[5] which communicates with the Raspberry Pi. The
An OpenFlexure microscope was taken to Dinacon in the rainfor-
software to control the microscope is in two distinct programs, the
server and the client. The server is a Flask application which con-
est in Panama to better understand its usability for tropical field
trols the motors and the camera of the microscope when instructed
work. The OpenFlexure microscope is a small, low-cost, open-
by web requests, it can also save images and share video streams.
source 3D-printed microscope[1]. Field microscopes are regularly
The client provides a user interface allowing a user to control the
used for tropical medicine[2] with the McArthur microscope[3] be-
microscope. As the client communicates with the server via web
ing the most famous design. The OpenFlexure microscope as sig-
requests, the client can either be run locally on the Raspberry Pi
nificant advantages over the McArthur design, having both digital
or can be run on another device. The standard microscope client
image recording and motorised control. It also is made from low-
cost readily available electronics and 3D printed parts, making it software is an Electron application called OpenFlexure-ev[6].
easy to build and maintain locally. The OpenFlexure microscope, While testing the microscope in Gamboa the connection be-
however, has some drawbacks for field use: it requires power to run tween the server and the client kept dropping out, often a frac-
the circuitry; and the microscope itself is made of a number of thin tion of a second after the camera stream between the server and
plastic flexural elements that could be damaged field conditions. OpenFlexure-ev was started. We believe the cause is a hard-
During a one week trip: ware issue despite the fact that the issue persisted between all
attempted combinations of two different Raspberry Pi computers,
• A working microscope was taken to Gamboa and set up in two different Raspberry Pi Camera modules, two different ribbon
DinaLab cables to connect the camera to the computer, and two different
SD cards with the computers operating system on. It became
• The control software was modified for simplicity when run-
ning off battery power
clear, however, that the camera issue was only presented when the
camera output was streamed. If the client was run locally on the
• A flight case was modified into a waterproof backpack with Raspberry Pi and instead of using a video stream the client used
adequate protection for the microscope the built in live preview where the camera input is forwarded to
the display by the Raspberry Pi’s GPU, then the software was
1 stable.
This local set-up was deemed not fit for the field for a number of
P-266 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-267
reasons, the overhead of running OpenFlexure-ev on a Raspberry 5. Round off all corners on the sheet metal with a sanding disk.
Pi powered from a USB power bank made the software slow and
difficult to use. The software also requires a large number of mouse 6. Attach the two plates to the case. For the top plate four 1cm
clicks in addition to using the keyboard, which is problematic as it thick plastic standoffs/washers were used so that the screws
would require setting up a mouse and keyboard in the field. The sit a similar depth as they would if attaching the handle.
solution we settled on was to use a USB SNES controller. Software
7. Use a rubber mat and cable ties to pad the metal.
to connect the SNES controller to the Raspberry Pi had already
been written including simple client which controlled the motors 8. Cut two pieces of packing foam to be back supports.
of the microscope, this was designed to work while OpenFlexure-
ev was displaying the microscope stream. While at Dincon this 9. Using hot glue attach velcro to both the backpack and the
client was modified so that it would start the live GPU preview of back supports.
the camera. This version of the software is openly available in the
jungle hack branch of this software[7]. 10. Cut four pieces long of nylon webbing strap, and melt the
ends with a lighter to stop fraying. The length was eye-
balled to be longer than backpack straps so they could be
3 Backpack cut down later.
The microscope having some delicate components is usually trans- 11. For each strap, fold the strap over so there is a loop just wide
ported in a plastic flight case. The case used is a 22” DURATOOL enough to pass the metal plates through. Sew this loop in
Water Resistant Case, which is a low cost alternative to the Peli place securely.
1510 Protector Case. A number of very similar cases exist and are
widely available, the aim is to make a way to simply transform 12. For two straps, feed the strap through the top of a backpack
this case into a backpack for field use. The method used to build strap adjuster buckle and sew in place. The length is easiest
the microscope is documented in Figure 1. The steps to make are: to set by comparing to another backpack, the exact length
is not important due to the adjuster buckle. Trim off excess
1. Remove all screws on back of the backpack and remove the and melt ends with a lighter
handle of the case.
13. Attach the scraps to the bag by removing the screws on
2. Cut two plates of sheet metal the width of the backpack one side of each plate and feeding the straps over the plates.
handle by about 10cm. Attach the straps with adjuster buckles to the top plate, and
the others to the bottom.
3. On one plate drill 4 holes which align with the 4 screw holes
at the top of the back pack. 14. Feed the lower straps through the adjuster buckle, and try
4. On the other plate cut out notches for the wheels, and drill on backpack. If bottom straps are excessively long they can
4 screw holes to align with the 4 screw holes that attach the be trimmed and the ends melted.
wheels. 15. The final stage is to add padding to the straps. This was
done by making two pads from either end of a pillow and
Figure 2: a) Microscope being transported through the rainforest
in the new backpack. b) Microscope in use the rainforest. Copy-
right Saad Chinoy, licensed CC-BY.

a small tarpaulin, with the flight case functioning as a work table

Figure 2. A samples of a foam nest from a Túngara frog, and
from a fern were prepared in the field, the micrographs are shown
in Figure 3a-c). The microscope functioned well in the field. The
only software hitch with the new client was the SNES controller
connecting to the wrong virtual port, this was solved fixed in the
Figure 1: The progression of building a backpack. Images f and g
field. A 4× objective was in the microscope prior to transport,
are Copyright Saad Chinoy, licensed CC-BY.
after transport the test sample was still in focus, suggesting that
the microscope was well protected during transport. The objective
attaching with cable ties. The design could be improved by was changed in the field to a 10× with no issues.
making waterproof pads, perhaps from a sleeping mat or a During the Dinacon I also met with Ernesto Bonadies from
yoga mat. the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). Their inter-
est in the microscope is to identify the species orchid bees in the
No exact dimensions are specified as cases vary, as do available field. A number of orchid bees are only identifiable by micro-
items. features, but if they are being transported back to the laboratory
they need to be properly logged and preserved. Having a field mi-
4 Field Work croscope would greatly decrease the number of unwanted repeats
of the same species being collected. It became clear that while
To simulate field work the microscope case was put into the back the OpenFlexure microscope was able to image the bees in bright
of a pick up truck and driven for a few miles, it was then carried field (Figure 3d) the features require the sample to be front illu-
a short distance into the rainforest. The backpack caused no dis- minated perhaps with a light ring. Also at this magnification the
comfort during a short hike. The microscope was then set up on stage was far less important as it was so slow. What would be of
P-270 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-271
software and hardware moves forward. The trip also identified the
need for an open source inspection microscope with lower mag-
nification, without stages, with front illumination. Whether this
microscope fits within the remit of the OpenFlexure project is an
open question.

[1] J. P. Sharkey, D. C. Foo, A. Kabla, J. J. Baumberg, and R. W.
Bowman, “A one-piece 3d printed flexure translation stage
for open-source microscopy,” Review of Scientific Instruments,
vol. 87, no. 2, p. 025104, 2016.

[2] J. A. B. Collier and J. M. Longmore, “The reliability of the

microscopic diagnosis of malaria in the field and in the labo-
ratory,” Annals of Tropical Medicine & Parasitology, vol. 77,
no. 2, pp. 113–117, 1983.

[3] J. McArthur, “A new concept in microscope design for tropi-

cal medicine,” The American journal of tropical medicine and
Figure 3: a) and b) Images of a fern found in the Rainforest using hygiene, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 382–385, 1958.
4× and 10× objectives respectively. c) Foam from a foam nest of
a Túngara frog using a 4× objective. d) The leg of an orchid bee [4] Raspberry Pi Computer. [Online]. Available: https://www.
using a 4× objective.

[5] Sangaboard motor controller. [Online]. Available: https:

more use would be to use what has been learned in building the // open instrumentation group/sangaboard
OpenFlexure microscope to build an inspection microscope.
[6] OpenFlexure-ev Javascript Client. [Online]. Available: https:
5 Conclusion
[7] OpenFlexure SNES Client, jungle hack branch.
The conclusion of the trip is that while the OpenFlexure micro- [Online]. Available:
scope is physically robust enough to be used in the field, the soft- openflexure-microscope-snesclient/tree/jungle hack
ware and electronics need to be further tested both on battery
power. Further more the usability of the microscope with re-
stricted working space (i.e. the top of a flight case rather than
a large desk) must be carefully considered as the design of both
P-272 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-273
A Samsung Gear 360-degree camera was


used to record the plants and trees of Gam-
boa’s nearby rainforest to share with aging
and disabled people that were currently liv-
ing in Columbus, Ohio and beyond. I wanted
SUSAN BOOHER to make the experience an immersive one,
VIDEO so they’d get the sense of being in the rain-

I recorded 3 separate 30-second videos

along the La Laguna trail within several feet
of one another while I hid behind a tree. I
wanted to record them to share on Vim-
eo with older adults to use their computer
mouse to scroll over the video to see it in
360 degrees. There’s also potential future
use of experiencing these 3 videos in virtual
reality through Unity video game program;
individuals could view them through VIVE’s
head-mount display and hand controllers.

P-274 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-275
While I was attending Dinacon 2 August

4-10, I journaled the animals I observed.
I created a non-360-degree video high-
lighting some of these animals, plants,
and the nearby Embera Indian Village.
SUSAN BOOHER The log of observed animals is shown
Video Journal in the video, which includes a variety https://vimeo.
of animals and insects. Leaf-cutter ants,
hummingbirds, and agoutis were seen com/360108961
every day around Adopta Bosque field
station. The video was uploaded to Vi-

P-276 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-277
ECO-DIGITAL SURVIVAL (REDUX) The first time I heard about Andy Q and
Digital Naturalism was when I stum-
more about DIY survivalist technologies
— things you can quickly hack togeth-
IN EXTREME LANDSCAPES bled across a copy of “Hacking the Wild: er in an emergency situation that could
Madagascar” from 2015 on the internet. provide communication, power, or food
I found it to be incredibly thought pro- (especially things you can create with
STEPHANIE ROTHENBERG voking and inspiring. The hand-drawn paper towel rolls).
zine illustrated a 10-day expedition of a
small group of folks that included art- Over the next year, I developed a proj-
ists, designers, scientists and locals who ect around this theme titled “Trading
were exploring the diverse ecosystem Systems: Bio-Economic Fairy Tales”
of Madagascar through the design of that looked at the failures and inequities
simple electronic hacks. The zine was a of human designed systems. It raised
collection of photographs, sketches of the question — what might it look like
prototypes, and personal and collective if non-humans were put in the driver’s
deep thoughts. The DIY convergence seat of Puerto Rico’s reconstruction?
of nature with analog/digital media as The project engaged rather whimsi-
a way to not only experience the wild cal solutions to underscore the severity
but to exist within it continued to reso- of the destruction and lack of support
nant in my mind. After Hurricane Maria from the US government. Some of the
hit Puerto Rico in 2017 and completely design hacks included lemon batteries
devastated the island, I started thinking as a solution to the island’s non-func-

P-278 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-279
tioning power grid and leveraging the But the majority of my time was spent
earth’s own electromagnetic waves for reflecting on the wonderful hacks the
communication through self-powered Madagascar team created and seeing if
crystal/fox hole radios made out of I could recreate them. Although I made
household items such as lead pencils headway on a few, the one pictured here
and razor blades . was most successful. I call it “Andy’s
Ear” — a circuit and speaker made from
So when the opportunity emerged this a leaf, wax, metallic wire, and magnets.
summer to participate in Dinacon, I was Other experiments included exploring
more than excited! I had big project am- fiber optic threads to make an insect
bitions for my two weeks in Gamboa, sensor, organic breadboards with giant
but as it happened I was so enthralled mushroom caps, and a tactile way to an-
with the energized, lovely human and alyze/collect data through your tongue
non-human community and lascivious using wire probes, a leaf, and conduc-
landscape that I got just a tiny bit dis- tive thread. I am continuing to explore
tracted. I will admit that some of my these digital-natural hybrids systems to
luxurious time was spent attempting the incorporate into larger, future projects,
following: #1) impersonating a human and I’m so thankful for the amazing time
laser frog chorus, #2) interspecies com- I had learning and sharing at Dinacon!
munication with agoutis on best gar-
bage foraging practices, #3) outracing a Special thanks to the marvelous Jana for
supermax ship in a slowly leaking kay- her expert modeling skills!
ak, #4) thinking about harvesting energy
from baby crocodiles, and of course #5) website: http://stephanierothenberg.
swimming at the “tropical palace” every com
moment possible (you can IM me for

Illustration of an Arduino workshop by Jose R.

P-280 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-281

I am a percussionist and composer with process for constructing synthesized

a background in entomology and ecolo- “built” soundscapes of hidden sounds.
gy, and I am interested in bringing a focus Built Hidden Soundscape: Pipeline Road,
to inconspicuous elements of ecosystems Gamboa is a video of a spectrogram of
through sound work and music compo- sounds that cannot be heard by humans
sition, with a focus on insects and their without the use of technology. I built a
habitats. I attended Dinacon with my col- sound work using field recordings I made
laborator in Pattern Ecology, musician/ on Pipeline Road, and I synthesized an
composer Kristina Dutton. imagined soundscape represented by
the spectrogram. Sounds that are easily
My focus at Dinacon 2019 was record- heard by human ears are excluded from
ing hidden sounds – those sounds that this soundscape. The Y axis represents
humans cannot hear without the aid of frequency and the X axis represents time.
technology. How can human opinions on This built soundscape includes ultra-
invertebrates be shifted through listen- sonic sounds (above the range of human
ing? Can listening encourage us to chal- hearing, played back at lower frequency),
lenge our assumptions and change our substrate-borne vibrations, and other-
behaviour and decision-making process- wise very quiet sounds. I recorded all of
es concerning our relations to non-hu- the sounds on and around Pipeline Road,
man species? Can it move us towards a with the exception of one recording of a
biocentric viewpoint? In this time when wasp nest, recorded in a field in down-
talk about the ‘environment’ is all over the town Gamboa.
popular media, I wonder if people are be-
coming more open to paradigm shifts of Sounds featured, in rough order of ap-
this nature. pearance:
1. Ultrasonic component of dawn sound-
1. BUILT HIDDEN SOUNDSCAPE: Pipe- scape on Pipeline Road
line Road, Gamboa 2. Paper wasp nest on cecropia branch, through substrate
3. Atta (leaf-cutter ant) foraging trail, lo-
At Dinacon I worked on developing a comotion sounds
P-282 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-283
4. Azteca ants on Cecropia tree, locomotion sounds
5. Cicada, ultrasonic component
6. Odontomachus (trap-jaw) ant, stridulation (partially ultrasonic)
7. Labidus (army ant) trail, sounds of locomotion and aggressive behavior
8. Ultrasonic component of dusk soundscape, from canopy, Pipeline Road

2. PATTERN ECOLOGY – with Kristina Dutton

Much of my work at Dinacon was in collaboration with my Pattern Ecology partner

Kristina Dutton. We produced two videos and conducted interviews with biologists
and artists about the intersection of their practices. In 2018, Pattern Ecology com-
posed a musical score to Rearing Anartia, a 1976 8mm documentary film produced
by entomologists Robert Silberglied and Annette Aiello at the Smithsonian Tropical
Research Institute’s Barro Colorado Island (BCI) research station in Panama. We had
the opportunity to visit BCI and to meet with Annette while in Panama, and our work
came full-circle. At Dinacon, we worked on material for an eventual video-album in
the spirit of Aiello and Silberglied’s efforts to share intimate details of field work and
scientific processes with the public. We are embarking on a revision of the Rearing
Anartia score with Annette this coming year to carry out the vision they originally in-
tended for the film.

We completed two short films while in Gamboa. These films feature Kristina’s im-
mersive binaural audio and video recording and my field recording using ultrason-
ic and substrate-borne techniques. The first video shows workers of a colony of Atta
ants moving across Pipeline Road in Gamboa, and includes sounds of locomotion and
stridulation from the ants, and binaural ambient sounds from the trail environment.
The second video was filmed while kayaking in the Rio Chagres one afternoon, and
features ambient sound, underwater soundscapes, and video. These videos will be
combined with ecological insights from the field and components of interviews in our
future works.



P-284 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-285
Originally, the idea was to create a ra-

diophonic journey through Gamboa—
exploring the variety of birdsongs on
Pipeline Road, lingering in the marsh-
es of the Chagres, and simply strolling
CHERISE FONG around the neighborhood, capturing
sound bites of both human and nonhu-
man residents.

The first time I ventured out alone to

Pipeline Road, I brought along my bam-
boo flute. Back in the city, when I would
play inside my room behind paper sho-
ji screens, occasionally a brazen bird
would perch outside on the balcony and
vividly respond to my shrill notes with
rhapsodic chirps.

In the jungle, however, it was a different

story. The sheer immensity of the rain-
forest was humbling enough, but it was
the symphonic richness of its sound-
scape that stopped me in my tracks: the
competitive chatter of mealy parrots;
the percussive taps of a woodpecker on
a hollow tree trunk; rhythmically im-
provised clicks and chuckles counter-
pointed by cicada crescendi and glis-
sandi; the four piercingly pure notes of
an ant-thrush, clearly heard but never
seen, always on cue with metronom-
ic precision. Out there in the wild, the
human arrogance of “music” produced
by blowing through a lacquered reed of
polished bamboo seemed extraneously
redundant. So I just listened.

Out on the river, I silently witnessed many

creatures both up close and through bin-
oculars: a caiman lurking just under the
water’s surface; a cream-colored cara-
cara tearing at its prey; red-headed tur-
key vultures preening on high branches;
white egrets, blue herons, striped jaco-
bins and yellow-winged jacanas. Yet it
was the acousmatic motif of a hidden
howler monkey that set the tempo ada-
gio from deep within the forest.

The title of the sound piece was in-

spired by the insistently repetitive cry
of what I have since identified as a red-
lored parrot on the Río Chagres. “Ac-

P-286 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-287
curate! Accurate!” it seemed to squawk, This surtitled multilingual nomencla-
as if challenging our inevitably flawed ture, with male and female voices ut-
human assessment of its species and its tering very different words to describe
surroundings. I’m projecting, of course, essentially the same species, is more a
but it’s hard not to associate sounds with reflection of human cultural percep-
signals, phonemes with meaning, utter- tions than of the individual encountered
ances with intention. in the wild. Juxtaposed with the natural
soundscape of the creatures’ respective
So I continued to move along the river habitats, are these words disruptive, in-
in a kayak, paddling through the dense trusive, invasive? Or merely indicative
marshwater with a splashproof smart- of our endless efforts to identify, cap-
phone on my lap recording in low-tech ture, classify, and label through relent-
mono, clumsily picking up the rumbles less accumulation of data?
of wind and bumps on the microphone,
as well as the buzz of a persistently pes- Inside a house in Gamboa, the melod-
ky fly. ic strings of a cello mingle freely with
a giggling chorus of parrots in the tree
“¿Cómo te llamas?” rhetorically asks outside. Agoutis roam neighborhood
Jorge, Panamanian avifauna expert who backyards, sloths and owls hang out in
already knows the appellations of every the branches above the sidewalk, pud-
local bird he is seeing or hearing. Re- dles of túngara frogs turn up the volume
turning from my excursions, I search after dusk… Humans seem to co-habit
through a handful of field guides, my seamlessly with our nonhuman neigh-
superficial gateway to the vast database bors.
of human scientific knowledge about
the resident species of central Panama. “Permanece escuchando” repeats Jorge,
reminding us that there is always more
And so I moved on to the naming of to hear, signal after silence: Keep listen-
birds and other creatures—in learned ing.
English, in local Spanish, in scientific
nomenclature: variable seedeater / es-
piguero variable / Sporophila corvina uploads/2019/10/inaccurate_nomen-
* wattled jacana / jacana carunculada / clature.mp3
Jacana jacana * white-necked jacobin /
jacobin nuquiblanco / Florisuga mel-
livora * striated heron / garza listada /
Egretta tricolor * mantled howler mon-
key / mono aullador / Alouatta palliata
* yellow-headed caracara / caracara ca-
beciamarilla / Milvago chimachima *
turkey vulture / gallinazo cabecirrojo /
Cathartes aura * lineated woodpecker /
carpintero lineado / Dryocopus linea-
tus * mealy parrot / loro harinosa / Am-
azona farinosa * northern tamandua /
hormiguero norteño / Tamandua mex-
icana * coati / gato solo / Nasua narica *
crowned tree frog / rana arbórea coro-
nada / Anotheca spinosa * fer-de-lance
/ equis / Bothrops asper * black-faced
ant-thrush / formicario carinegro / For-
micarius analis…

P-288 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-289
THE FUTURE WITHIN the University of California San Diego,


A digital seed archive and interactive I conducted field research July-Septem-
sculpture series exploring ber 2019 in forests across the Americas:
threatened plant biodiversity in the South, Central and North. Specifcally
Americas in the Panamanian canal zone tropical
GRACE GROTHAUS moist broadleaf forest (“rainforest”),
Brazilian Cerrado, Mata Atlântica, and
“First and above all an explanation must the North Atlantic forest of the Blue
do justice to the thing that is to be ex- Ridge Parkway. Especially in Panama
plained, must not devaluate it, interpret and in Brazil, these biodiversity hotspots
it away, belittle it, or garble it, in order to are home to a great number of endemic
make it easier to understand. The ques- species, some of which have not yet even
tion is not “At what view of the phenom- been discovered. Especially in Brazil they
enon must we arrive in order to explain are also threatened. According to UNE-
it in accordance with one or another SCO, in the Cerrado, the second largest
philosophy?” but precisely the reverse: biome in South America, less than 30%
“What philosophy is requisite if we are to of the natural vegetation remains and
live up to the subject, be on a level with continues to shrink. The original Mata
it?” The question is not how the phenom- Atlântica has experienced 85% deforesta-
enon must be turned, twisted, narrowed, tion. These are places of irreplaceable
crippled so as to be explicable, at all biodiversity. For example, the Cerrado
costs, upon principles that we have once is the most biodiverse savannah in the
and for all resolved not to go beyond. world. Yet devastating losses continue.
The question is: “To what point must we It is highly probable that many endem-
enlarge our thought so that it shall be ic species have already faced extinction
in proportion to the phenomenon…” – before being recognized by the scientific
Schelling community and the broader world at
large, and even more are at risk today.

“The future is not in front of us, for it These past few months during my hikes
is here already in the shape of a germ in these forests and grassland, I sought
(seed).” “What is not with us will not be, out seeds, seedpods, and fruiting bodies
even in the future.” Čapek of as many different plant species as pos-
sible and from them created 3D digital
A result of cumulative anthropogenic ac- models. In this way I digitally collected
tivity, global mass extinction is currently 60 unique specimens in Panama during
in progress, a phenomenon which many Dinacon, another 152 in South Ameri-
refer to as the sixth extinction. I am ca, and 45 thus far from North America
attempting to grapple with this phenom- where I am working now. All together
enon as an artist and to live up to the this represents 257 unique species. The
enormity of the subject. In Schelling’s digital models of them are comprised of
expostulation, I begin to see the begin- a staggering 26,000+ images taken of the
nings of a course of action. To enlarge specimens during the photogrammetry
my thought to be in proportion to the process. In addition, I have nearly seven
phenomenon, I must immerse myself in thousand photographs, video, and audio
it, far beyond the four walls of my studio. recordings, numerous field notes and
In so doing, I deepen my knowledge base sketches. Via field guides and discussion
and in turn the efficacy of my artistic with generous researchers at Inhotim
practice upon return to studio. We see Botanical Gardens, the Smithsonian
more clearly by recording what we see Tropical Research Institute, and the
firsthand. With this understanding and University of California San Diego I have
via the support of the Digital Naturalism been identifying the species of my speci-
Conference, the Tinker Foundation, and mens and learning about them.

P-290 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-291
Jorge Medina rescues a caiman crossing the A moth photographed using a broken projector
road, and relocates back to a swamp hacked into a Light Trap
P-292 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-293
Night falls in Gamboa, Panama — site

of the 2019 Digital Naturalism Con-
ference. The túngara frogs come to
life, filling the air with their uncanny
mating calls resonating from murky
ASHLIN ARONIN ponds and puddles. As day breaks, they
retreat. I created a submersible infra-
red timelapse camera to capture the
experience of dawn from beneath the
surface of a muddy puddle, the end of
a long night of singing and mating.

Here are a few of the locations where

the camera was deployed overnight:

This is the device I ultimately produced

(photo left, 3D scan by Grace Grothaus
on next page). The transparent plastic
on the box confused the scanner, but I
find the aesthetic fitting, as if the cap-
sule were rescued from the bottom of
the ocean after years of decay.

I arrived at Dinacon with a loose idea

of what I would need to make this proj-
ect happen and what the results would
look like. I brought an infrared camera,
a Raspberry Pi, a waterproof case, and
100 feet of paracord.

I took an iterative approach, repeat-

edly testing versions of the prototype.
The first thing I realized was that for
an infrared camera to work properly
in low-light environments, it needs an
infrared light source. I tried using one,
then three small infrared LEDs in se-
ries, powered by the Raspberry Pi. It
quickly became clear that this was not
enough light to penetrate the murky
underwater depths.

The next step was to take apart a

heavy-duty infrared floodlight used
by local bat researchers for nocturnal
P-294 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-295
this information was more visible, and I SparkFun Buck Boost
was pleased with the somewhat psyche- infrared flashlight
delic effect. Anker PowerCore 10,000mAh power
I applied this curve to each image with a USB to micro USB cable
command line batch process using Im- 100 ft of paracord
ageMagick, then compiled the images 1 ft length of bamboo
into videos using ffmpeg. cement block
imaging. I extracted the circuit board separate battery pack for the light.
zip ties
and LEDs from the internals of this light,
Overall, this project was a great learning solder
disabled the ambient light sensor, and Even after solving this and other techni-
experience. I learned about the physics wires
rewired the power supply to run off the cal problems, like running out of space
of light and water, efficient and appropri- 4 rechargeable AAA batteries
Pi power supply using a SparkFun Buck on the Pi’s SD card, and figuring out the
ate use of batteries in electronics, batch battery charger
Boost. right cron / shell script configuration for
image processing using open source soft- AAA battery pack
timelapse images, a fundamental prob-
ware, and how to use local found materi- Aquarian H2A-XLR hydrophone and
With this arrangement, I would expe- lem remained: infrared light doesn’t
als like bamboo and cement blocks. Zoom H4n audio recorder (for frog au-
rience seemingly random issues where travel well underwater, perhaps because
dio recordings)
the Pi would stop taking images and lose it is at the low end of the light spectrum,
Thanks to Andy Quitmeyer, Sid Drmay,
network connectivity once running on meaning it has low energy. Therefore,
Rob Faludi, Josh Michaels, and everyone
battery power out in the field. After some there wasn’t much to see in the middle
else who helped out. Thanks also to the
investigation and discussion with oth- of the night in the images that Crepuscle
Oregon Arts Commission for their finan-
er knowledgeable folks, I measured the produced. I schemed about how to make
cial support, which made this project and
current drawn by the infrared light and the most of these initially disappointing
experience possible.
determined it was drawing 1.8 amps. The results.
battery pack I was using to power the Pi
provides around 2.1 amps at peak ca- At first, all the images seemed complete-
pacity, so this arrangement only worked ly black. However, when I took a look at
when it was fully charged. As soon as the histogram for a random image in the
Raspberry Pi Zero W
the battery was drawn down a bit, the Pi free image editing software GIMP, I no-
Lewis N. Clark WaterSeals hard case
was not getting enough current to oper- ticed that there was some image data in
Raspberry Pi NoIR camera
ate (around 80-100mA), so the camera the very low wavelengths. I experiment-
2 packets of silica gel
ceased to work. The solution was to use a ed with bumping up the color curves so
P-296 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-297
TRANSUBSTANTIATION - RADIOPHONIC Through this telephone headset, you
can hear the AM long-wave radio,
My working corner in the Dinacon with
AM radio transmitter (top left).
SCULPTURE INSTALLATIONS recognizable as radio with help of the
diode. Pulling radio waves, tapping in, circu-
iting, a translation, somehow nothing
RABÍA WILLIAMS (ACA) AM receiver consists of: feels so present as working with radio
Live Documentary waves. But it is rather an act of pres-
Two coils (copper wire 22): 1st band ence. Distance is compressed. There
of 40 turns and 2nd band 30 turns is a leap in time. Wrapping the coil
1N34A Germanium diode around the object keeps one present. If
47k Capacitor you are counting the turns, as any good
Variable Capacitor crystal radio aficionado is supposed to,
Telephone headset – headphones you cannot lose yourself in the action
Insulated wire: 50ft for antenna / 25ft fully. I sometimes did this canal-side. It
for grounding cable feels like a mantra.

During my time at Dinacon, I was mak-

ing radiophonic objects to create kinds
of living documentary installations
working with radio waves, found and
archived objects and sound – the
so-called inanimate, the man-made
and the natural. They are something
like witness objects.

I brought the pill bottle at the center of

this pod from my grandmother’s house
in New York. Both my grandmother´s
parents lived for a time in Panama,
individually emigrating from the West
Indies to Panama before coming to
the States and eventually meeting each
other in a church in Bedford–Stuyve-
sant, Brooklyn, over 100 years ago. This
pill bottle is for thyroid medication.
Mother´s thyroid was damaged as a
child, burned through iodide painting,
an experimental practice of the time.
This left her with a permanent thy-
roid condition that she has been taking
medicine for ever since.

To think about how these radiophonic

objects could be, I spend time in Gam-
boa´s Soberanía rainforest, sometimes
recording alone and others accompa-
nied by some of my Dina colleagues,
who made exploring a much more
curious experience.
Made possible thanks to the support of Institut Roman Llull & Sean Mcgraw
Special thanks to: Andy Quitmeyer, Cherise Fong, Lucille Bertie and for the sound
collaborations of Kristina Dutton and Lisa Schoenberg.

P-298 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-299
Mostly the village of Gamboa seems like French gave up on.
a ghost town, abandoned structures and
houses. You could easily walk the loop of Matthew Parker:
the town without crossing another pe- “[The canal] did not so much impact
destrian. the environment as change it forever.
Mountains were moved, the land bridge
But it does not sound like you are alone! between the north and south American
Two sonar worlds seemed to rule here, continents was severed, and more than
the balance unknown: 150 sq miles of jungle was submerged
under a new man-made lake. To defeat
1) That of the jungle, which the town deadly mosquitoes, hundreds of square
is carved and shaved into. These are miles of what we would now call “vital
sounds from inside the trees, the dirt, wetlands” were drained and filled, and
and grass, and the sky above. As I ren- vast areas poisoned or smothered in
dered these sounds into words, I thought thousands of gallons of crude oil.”
of my childhood books, a collection of – Changing Course, The Guardian
The Americans made there own little universe in
descriptions: roaring, picking, tweeting,
Panama. The archives are astounding – and some
buzzing…, amongst my first words prac- shameless. ...”it was a provincially ordained world Many lives have been lost in the build-
ticed just after Moma and Dada and no, empire domination that the U.S. was meant to enjoy” ing of the canal, most to accidents and
no, Rabía no! – Jackson Lear others to yellow fever. The majority of
lives lost were black men from the West
2) The other sonar world sounds from Indies. Thousands died dredging the ca-
the bordering canal. “Canal” is quite nal – over 20,000.
appropriate: a vibrating, tremble, some-
thing like a “horn blows low.” It is a I recover items from the River Charge:
recognizable machine-at-work sound. flip-flops, obviously modern, so many
And water. Does the nature remember, types and sizes of flip-flops -there is
what? something about shoes that are haunt-
ing – and find lots of pesticide containers
The people remember the territory oc- and bottles of many different sorts.
cupied. They remember who lived on
which side of town. Pastor Wilbur ex-
plains: “The Black West Indians lived on
this side…”

This town exists as an important dredg-

ing point. Here in the town of Gamboa,
the land is always sliding into the canal
and must constantly be dredged.

I often wander around Gamboa town

and I sometimes go to Panama City for
supplies. I record folks I meet, not on the
street but along the way: a young man
who is the son of a Panamanian canal
engineer- one of the only in his posi-
tion during those times when Americans
ran everything to do with the Canal; an
American pastor recruited to preach in
English over 40 years ago; and the local
sign builder. I collect sound archives.
The Americans came up with the locks
as a solution for the canal project the

P-300 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-301
Before the sun had even set on my first


day in Gamboa, I had already heard ex-
cited chattering about the sound of the
“Laser Frogs”. Once it got dark, there was
a seemingly ubiquitous chorus of these
PHILLIP HERMANS laser sounds, an asynchronous melange
Very Good Listening of descending glissandi. One might mis-
take this biophony for a retro video-game
arcade, but it is in fact the revelry of an
amphibious Bacchanalia.

First Attempt
I had other plans and project ideas before
arriving at Dinacon, but I found myself
continuously drawn to the sound of these
frogs. I was completely ignorant of them
at first, having no idea what their actual
name was or anything about their behav-
ior or even what they looked like. I just re-
ally liked the way they sounded and kept
listening. Indeed these frogs sound like a
laser beam from a video game, and since
I have worked as a sound designer and the terms “whine” and “chuck”. These are
synthesized laser beam sounds for video much better descriptions in my opinion.
games, I thought “I bet I can synthesize
these frogs!”. I decided to use the SuperCollider pro-
gramming language so that I had absolute
My first attempt was a very quick patch control over the synthesis of this sound.
using the ES2 synthesizer in Logic Pro. I The first area of focus was on creating a
did this based entirely on listening to the convincing “whine” using a bank of sine
frogs before analyzing the spectrogram wave oscillators.
in detail. It captured the general gesture
of the descending tone, but didn’t capture Looking at the spectrogram above we can
the timbre or slope of the glissando very see the “whine” portion of the call is a de-
well. scending tone, starting around 1kHz and
ending about an octave below. It also ap-
Making the Whine pears to have some harmonic overtones
Although the first attempt was not con- that decrease in intensity (up to about the
vincing enough, it was close enough to 5th harmonic) The opposite page shows
encourage me to continue on my quest a recording and spectrogram of the first
to synthesize the frogs call. I began by in- attempt in SuperCollider.
specting an isolated call from one frog via
the spectrogram in Audacity. This was already sounding better, but by
looking at the spectrogram of the syn-
There are many noticeable things from thetic whine some things are obviously
this spectrogram that further inform still lacking. First, the slope of the glissan-
what we hear. The first being that the do is still too linear, it needs to have more
frogs make not only this “laser” sound, on a exponential (perhaps cubic?) curve to
but also have a percussive sound that fol- it. Additionally the upper harmonics are
lows it. At first I referred to these compo- too strong and need to be attenuated rel-
nents as the “chirp” and “beep”, but after ative to their ordinality. (The higher the
being clued in by some STRI researchers harmonic, the less loud it is.)
(thanks Amanda Savage!) I learned to use

P-302 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-303
Making the Chuck While the timing of the chucks is accu-
After a few more iterations of refining rate, the tone is not convincing. I con-
the whine, I moved onto the chuck.I tinued to iterate on the implementation
used a bank of sine wave oscillators to until settling on the one below.
recreate the chuck. Below is a recording SuperCollider GUI Application
and spectrogram along with the syn-
thetic whine. For presentation at Dinalab, I put to-
gether a simple GUI application which
Looking at the chucks in the spectro- allows the user to playback a recording
gram, we can see partials at relatively of an isolated túngara call and compare
even spacing. We could perhaps mod- it to the synthetic whine and chuck. Ad-
el this by using a harmonic tone with a ditionally there are knobs to alter the
fundamental frequency of ~200 Hz or pitch of both the whine and chuck to
~250 Hz, with the fundamental and first hear what GIANT or tiny Túngara frog
few overtones missing. The chucks seem might sound like.
to have their highest peak around 2.75
kHz. Is this sound produced via some On the post on the site, you
sort of formant resonance? What mech- can see and hear the audio of the final
anism makes it seemingly harmonic but form the synthesizer took. There is still
with a missing fundamental? This is un- room for improvement of course.
clear to me, but I can recreate the sound
nonetheless! Playback in the Field
In order to see if my synthesizer was ef-
This group of three chucks have differ- fective at blending in with Túngara frogs
ent durations, and the last one seems to in the field, I did some simple, not very
have a downward pitch contour but not well controlled tests on the streets of
nearly as pronounced as the whine. The Gamboa.
first two beeps are approximately 50
milliseconds long, and the third is 40ms. Basically, I walked up to a pond where
I heard Túngara frogs calling and they
Using the same approach as the whine, would usually stop calling as I ap-
I used a bank of sine wave oscillators to proached. Then with my field recorder
recreate the chuck. On the post on the running I would play the synthesized website you can see the re- call from my cell phone and wait to hear
cording and spectrogram along with the a response.
synthetic whine.
Here is the first trial (that loud percus-

P-304 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-305
Kitty Kelly crocheted a tún-
gara frog with electronics to
explore their unique sound

sive sound in the background is a Gladi- production would be useful. With more
ator frog, I think). The synth is mostly in analysis of recordings and a bit more
the left channel while the other frogs are reading on the physiology of the chuck
mostly in the right. production, I think I could better refine
the synthesis.
After shuffling around a bit, the frogs got
quiet, and I tried again. Some final questions:
Perhaps I should port this synthesizer for
Now, can I conclusively say that the frogs use in a web/mobile app?
responded to my call? I do not know, I
am not a field biologist or experienced Maybe I could synthesize Gladiator (or
with phonotaxis studies, but the results of other) frog calls?
these simple tests seem promising. I think
the frogs are buying my synthetic call. What additional features would be useful?

Future Work Do you have comments, criticisms or any

I really enjoyed working on this project feedback?
and am very interested in improving the Acknowledgments
audio synthesis and application interface
so that it is useful to researchers both in First I would like to thank all the partici-
the field and the laboratory. If you study pants I met at Dinacon, and Dr. Andrew
frogs, bioacoustics, phonotaxis or have Quitmeyer for organizing the event.
interest in this project, please get in touch
with me. I would love more feedback. Amanda Savage was very generous in
From my perspective, the synthesis could talking with me about my project and in
still use some refinement. First, it could introducing me to the vast literature and
use better filtering of the whine, perhaps research available on Túngara frogs.
via a resonant filter based on accurate
resonances of the frogs vocal apparatus?
Additionally, more variability in chuck
P-306 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-307
I’m a creative coder and visual artist. I


mostly work with realtime graphics in live
performances with musicians, dancers or
other artists. I also create visual-based in-
teractive installations.
My intention was to transform what we
don’t see into viewable data, inspired by
the unique and exotic rainforest vegeta-
tion in Gamboa.

I used the small movements of leaves

and other natural elements moved by the
wind and rain as external factors to re-
veal themselves. Nature can be a painter
helped by digital techniques (although
plants don’t really “move”); prompting
its own memories, the accumulation of
movement into textures. Also the behav-
ior of light between matter is valuable for
this work.

The tool I used to generate these images

Then, I built the patch (program) in Max/
was Max/MSP. I created a program that
MSP. It is a software meant to code pro-
modified the video (the first two days in
grams, but node-based.
Gamboa, I recorded a lot of video foot-
In Gamboa, I felt astonishment with the gorgeous age) in realtime, having timed random
The process was about to chain alter-
nature surrounding us. changes that modified certain parame-
ations on the original video, with the goal
ters, allowing me to obtain happy, unex-
of reaching different outputs in realtime:
pected results.
-Speed playback
The expected result was an A/V piece gen-
-Frame Differencing
erated in realtime, using the video sound
also modified, but, it ended up being sin-
-Separate each color channel (ARGB)
gle beautiful still screenshots (among the
-Join those channels with different delay
videos I captured also as documentation),
something I loved because they look like
-Pixel-by-pixel slewing of video frames
real paintings.
-Blending in add mode of this result with
First, gather input materials:
the original video
-Change color mode to HSL to achieve
Record video footage of palms leaves
fancy glitchy effects (ON/OFF)
moving, flowers, water. Anything moved
-Basic contrast/brightness/saturation
by the wind and rain.
-Pixel-by-pixel slewing of video frames
Select small loops and export them to a
smaller resolution (1280×720) and best
performance codec using ffmpeg :
I set up some “presets,” because each video
worked with different parameters. I also
/usr/local/bin/ffmpeg -i originalvideo-
added some randomness: each certain -s 1280×720 -b 1000k -ab 128k
amount of time, the video feed, speed,
orientation and other basic parameters
were randomly changed, giving life to
P-308 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-309
those happy, unexpected results.

The most important and first one is the

frame differencing. This is a technique
where the computer checks the differ-
ence between two video frames. If the
pixels. have changed there apparently was
something changing in the image (mov-
ing for example). Most techniques work
with some blur and threshold, to distinct
real movement from noise.

Some screenshots viewing all the process,

each link of the chain in a separate win-

Special thanks to all the people I met at

Dinacon, specially my team-mate-travel-
lers Anna Carreras and Mónica Rikic <3

P-310 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-311
Rust is gorgeous. We marvel at its endless two weeks, I’ve chosen to accelerate the

shades of ochre, red, orange and sienna. initial rusting process using a household
We appreciate the organic shapes created concoction of white vinegar, peroxide
as right angles collapse and edges decay and table salt. The results are instant, but
into jagged landscapes. Rust is poetic, really just a head start on what prom-
ROB FALUDI photogenic, artistic and melancholy. It ises to be a post-industrial patch of se-
grows on its own and famously, never pia-toned disintegration, offsetting the
sleeps. riot of tropical greenery.

As an agricultural species, we love to How to make your own rust garden.

garden. We plant seeds outdoors, water A) Pick a patch of ground outdoors. You
them diligently, watch the miracle of life, can also set up an indoor planter box or
trim, weed, and appreciate the lush green humidity-rich terrarium.
plantscape we’ve created. Gardening gets
right at our souls. But why limit our- B) Gather some scrap iron or steel. If
selves to plants? it’s already rusting, so much the bet-
ter. Painted or coated metals won’t rust
Let’s garden with rust! Rust gardening quickly. Strip the paint and sand the
is easy and the perfect way to exploit a metal for best results. If you’re not sure
“brown thumb.” In some ways it’s iden- a metal will rust, try it anyway. Experi-
tical to growing a plant garden. In other mentation is a terrific way to learn, and
ways it’s the polar opposite. A rust gar- the artist’s favored tool.You can leave the
den is created by “planting” metal pieces metal to rust on its own outdoors, or wa-
outdoors where they can weather or- ter it regularly to accelerate the decay.
ganically. Patience is required, though
the process can be sped up with regular C) If you’re an impatient gardener, it’s
watering, plus a few other tricks. You’ll easy to get some rust going immediately.
eventually be rewarded with lush decay, Pour some white vinegar into a plastic
in a myriad of sunset colors. Of course, spray bottle and mist your metal scraps
your rusted wonder won’t bear any- until they are thoroughly moistened.
thing edible, but it also won’t attract any Wait for the vinegar to dry, around 15
pests. You might even extract a center- minutes. Next, in another spray bottle,
piece-worthy “bouquet” from your rust mix:
garden, in leiu of a traditional harvest. Of -two cups of hydrogen peroxide
course pesticides are unnecessary, and -four tablespoons of white vinegar
weeding is entirely optional. -one-and-a-half teaspoons of table salt
(why salt?)
For this year’s Dinacon, I’m planting a
rust garden outside of a home in Gam- D) Swirl the mixture until the salt has
boa, Panama. Since I’ll only be there for dissolved. Spray it onto your metal
scraps and they will turn rusty as you
watch. Allow the rusty metal to dry, then
repeat as desired.* Careful with this mix-
ture, it will rust anything it contacts in-

E) “Plant” other metal scraps as often as

desired to create a variety of rusty de-
lights. You can include non-ferrous met-
als like copper which will grow a green
patina for contrast. Rust gardens are per-
fect for photography, try a macro lens for
the most beautiful corrosion close-ups.

P-312 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-313
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and the location of the Amazon, since similar to each other) and “sometimesAt-


the Amazon fires were just being publi- Dawn” has around 500,000 possibilities.
cized at that time, and seemed especially Automatically regenerating versions of
poignant as we were in a different, not on the poems can be viewed on my website
fire, rainforest.
For the second poem, I allowed myself
to venture away from Dinacon a little
bit. I wanted to write a poem about the
process of searching for things and being
thwarted, and then trying to appreciate
Generative poetry introduces chaos and projectOfTheAgouti sometimesAtDawn
what happens even if it’s not what you
multiplies possibilities. Also, it constrains were looking for. The poem, “sometime-
the author. It forces her to consider lan- sAtDawn” was the result. Sometimes
guage as a series of assorted tools. What
does an adjective do to a poem? How can
In the Dinalab,
One of the technical challenges of the
we categorize adjectives? What makes an poems was playing with timing. I wanted
answer? at dawn,
there is Andy.
to introduce a bit of hesitation into the
program, in order to mimic the rhythm
The process for creating these poems of writing. The idea was to further flesh
I look past the
involved stretching my brain into a dif- out the fantasy that the computer was
ferent type of writing-thinking. Nor-
mally when I write, I think of specific “What is the project of writing a poem. I think I succeeded only
partially in this respect, and have other
words and ideas. For these poems, I had
the agouti, Andy?” ideas I still want to implement.
to make myself consider questions like:
“What are the characteristics of the lan- A language-related challenge was how to
guage formula, ‘the + adjective + noun + make the poems surreal while also seem- 3D print of a rambutan
verb + direct object?’” What associations Andy screams. ing potentially meaningful. So many
do we have with that particular language automatically produced poems come
equation? “
behind my bathroom
across to me as complete nonsense. I
“The slime eats the oats wanted the reader to have that pleasur-
There aren’t concrete answers to these able feeling that comes from reading
questions. But by asking the questions
and sorting different language formulas in the most efficient way something very strange and somewhat
random and making meaning out of
into what feels most thought-provok-
possible.” that. This challenge involved a lot of
ing, I could begin to write the poems.
For example, the first step of my writing
tweaking of the word banks, so that no
poem would seem completely unrea-
and find
process for the poem, “theProjectOf T- sonable. The more I can walk the line
heAgouti,” was a decision to have the on this though, the more the reader can
poem be a short narrative about coming recognize the creative process involved instead
across a person, asking them a question, in reading anything and processing any
and waiting in anticipation for their an- information. My most ambitious hope
a drooling
swer. This was my more Dinacon-related with a project like this is that the reader
poem, as one of the primary dynamics of will come away with an understanding of
Dinacon for me has been trying to learn how much their particular brain shapes
as much as I can from others, which is an everything that they take in, and along
inspiring, but sometimes fraught pro-
cess. A large portion of the word banks
with that, a healthy distrust of their own
thinking patterns.
valerian root.
for this poem involved Dinacon-related
words and overheard conversation, and Here are two examples of the poems. If
I inserted Dinacon participants’ names I’ve calculated correctly, “theProjectOf T-
in for the characters of the poem. I also heAgouti” has about 200 million possi-
brought in the personage of Bolsonaro, bilities (though many of them are very

P-316 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-317
tree to be amplified, recorded, and analyzed. As Disciglio demon-
EXTEMPORAZATION WITH strated the technique for Dayhew, they spontaneously began im-
with Strangler provising. Both artists were astounded by the rich timbres and
Fig [Striation tones that they were able to achieve from the trees during their
Sonification] first experiments with a coconut palm and a cecropia, and were
DANN DISCIGLIO, LUCINDA DAYHEW motivated to explore further. This is their project:
Striation Sonification

Dann Disciglio
Lucinda Dayhew

Perhaps it was fate that Dann Disciglio and Lucinda Dayhew ar-
rived at the Digital Naturalism Conference 2019 on the same day,
just one hour apart. As their shared taxi from the Panama City
airport to Gamboa jetted them down dark roads and hurled their
bodies from side to side they quietly chatted and realized how
similar their interests were. Almost immediately, the question
arose: What were they going to be doing at Dinacon? Both Dayhew
and Disciglio have backgrounds in sound and performance, com-
bined with ongoing interests in ecology and natural systems. By
the time they arrived in Gamboa, the pair quickly discovered
what they really wanted to do: get closer to nature while simul-
taneously getting closer to each other. Tucked between hikes to
swimming holes, a party bus to Panama City, and endless servings
“The work that we completed at
of rice and beans, Disciglio introduced Dayhew to a technique
Dinacon is entitled “Extemporiza-
tion with Strangler Fig [Striation
he conceived to
Sonification].” After finding a fig
gather sound from tree growing in the backyard of
trees. It involves an abandoned home next to Adop-
affixing an indus- ta Bosque (a non-profit ecological
trial grade accel- conservation organization that
erometer to a steel generously housed us while at Di-
probe inserted nacon) and selecting it for its
into the trunk or expansive size and symbiotic rela-
roots. The sensor tionships with coinhabiting bushes
allows for the in- and vines, as well as its sonic
ner-acoustics of a qualities and overall beauty, we
inserted a stainless steel screw
into the trunk and attached

P-318 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-319
Chicago, IL. His research-oriented practice looks at current
ecological issues through the lens of digital technologies.
Disciglio works through the notion that by subverting technol-
ogy and turning it against dominant capitalistic and ecological
subjectivities, he can generate mutant modes of being in the
contemporary world, a task he sees as absolutely vital to rees-
tablishing balance between humanity and the natural world.

Lucinda Dayhew reflects upon social and environmental relations

with a rhythmic bent. Her narratives become rhythms and shift
shape, interrogating the ethics of daily living and material-
ising as installations and performances, films and photographs,
sound works, sculptures, and texts. Dayhew investigates mono-
cropping and the patterns and flows of food crop distribution,
the swelling geographical bandings of the subtropics and tropics
under global warming, paid and unpaid labour and its fragmen-
tation and precarity, language acquisition, the codes and ma-
terials of adults’ and children’s play, (non) human exchanges,
behavioural patterns and loops, and: spurns the compulsory yet
our accelerometer via a magnetic mount. The inner acoustics of constrictive form of the short artist bio. Born in Orange (Aus-
the fig, including its ant and lizard inhabitants, were amplified tralia), she now lives and works in Berlin.
and recorded with a digital audio recorder and monitored using
headphones. We then enacted an improvisational performance with
the fig using this system as a way of exploring material fe-
tishism, ecological re-envisioning, and the poetics of digital This performance marks the
interfaces. inaugural performance of the
treecore duo LDDD.
For us, both musicians from a young age, playing music has al-
ways formed a large part of our social lives, and in catalyz-
ing our ecological encounters- hearing and sounding as a way of
belonging with others in a space. With a single camera focussed
on our trinity, we engendered that part of ourselves together
in Gamboa by developing, researching, and completing this work
Special thanks to Andrew Quitmeyer,
Video documentation can be found at all conference organizers, our incred-
Audio Documentation can be found at
ible hosts at Adopta Bosque, Trevor
Silverstein for the portraits, and to
Gamboa and all its inhabitants, human

Bios: and non-human alike.

Dann Disciglio is an interdisciplinary artist currently based in *2019

P-320 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-321
Part One:
How do movements couple to sounds switch between beats. The choice will

GENERATIVE DANCE IN THE in the natural environment, and can

paired dance communication by impro-
depend on the leader in the dance pair.

We will user test a pair of dancers, one

vised both in the movements and musi-
cal composition realms? I used SonicPi of whom (leader) can switch between
to generatively sample sound recorded rhythms and music that inspires differ-
from nature to make musical beats and ent dance forms and speeds. The leader
can choose both her steps and the mu-
RAY LC rhythms. These beats will couple to pair
sical rhythms being generated. For ex-
dance metaphors in paradigms in salsa
and zouk, which are popular dances in ample, she can choose to dance bachata
Panama. Specifically the project consists rather than salsa, or to have a dip in the
of the following phases. salsa, and can choose the musical motifs
appropriate to these specific actions.
Record sounds in the natural environ-
ment of Panama and use them to con- If time permits, we will organize a Ca-
struct simple phrases in SonicPi, choos- sino Rueda performance using pairs
ing the right envelopes to synthesize of dancers who can all control the mu-
beat sounds which, when live-looped sic in different ways. If the technology
together, produces Latin-like rhythms. does not permit it, we can prototype the
process using calls much like in Casino
Begin recruiting conference attendees Rueda, giving our DJ a cue to change the
for a performance which involves danc- music.
ing in sync to the collected beats. I will
train those who are not familiar with The project investigates whether impro-
simple steps of salsa and bachata latin visation in dance can be coupled also to
dancing so that all can practice together improvisation in music. Can we create
even without formal training. a system for both changing the musi-
cality and the movements in dance? We
We will construct a wearable interface aim to investigate this in a natural con-
for switching between different SoniPi text where Latin rhythms and natural
sketches for generating different sounds. sounds can be used as samples to create
We will prototype a teensy-based de- a performance of higher order improvi-
vice that can use accelerometer data to sation.

P-322 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-323
Part Two: video demo, is used to generate pitch,
Can EEG be used as a source of sound making directed musical phrases us-
and can this sound be used to harmo- ing attention, so humans can control to
nize with the environment? This project come extent (but not all). Plant EEG will
generates a work of symphonic sound be used to generate the subtext of the
using human EEG attention data and symphony, forming the chords that the
EEG data in the wild. I use a MindWave human EEG will play on top of. Both
Mobile headset to get attention data have a life of its own, so that the final
from humans and translates that scale form of the work is as much part of the
to pitch for the melody. I use plant elec- environment of Gamboa as to any con-
trical data to recorded using plant elec- scious control by any party.
trodes (thanks to Seamus) to generate
the tonic portion for the work. Com- Ray LC’s artistic practice incorporates
bining the phasic EEG music with the cutting-edge neuroscience research for
tonic plant environmental music gives a building bonds between humans and be-
voice to the way we operate in the uni- tween humans and machines. He stud-
verse. We humans make a lot of phasic ied AI (Cal) and neuroscience (UCLA),
noise, but the plant and environment of building interactive art in Tokyo while
the world embody the tone and mood publishing papers on PTSD. He’s Visit-
that form the substance of a work. We ing Professor, Northeastern University
co-create with electrical recordings College of Art, Media, Design. He was
from the brain and the plant to make a artist-in-residence at BankArt, 1_Wall_
symphony of Gamboa. Tokyo, Brooklyn Fashion BFDA, Process
Space LMCC, NYSCI, Saari Residence.
MindWave Mobile data is piped to He exhibited at Kiyoshi Saito Museum,
BrainWaveOSC app, which sends the Tokyo GoldenEgg, Columbia Univer-
data to Unity. Unity uses an Audio- sity Macy Gallery, Java Studios, CUHK,
Source to generate the pitch as mapped Elektra, NYSCI, Happieee Place ArtLab.
from attention data. On the plant side, He was awarded by Japan JSPS, National
Arduino is used to record and log plant Science Foundation, National Institute
electrical values. These two sources of of Health, Microsoft Imagine Cup, Ado-
EEG are part of the environment we ex- be Design Achievement Award.
ist in. Human EEG as you can see in the

P-324 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-325
Tadpole Soundscapes of Gamboa is a


generative soundscape made in collabo-
ration with wildlife of Gamboa. The au-
dio is generated via processing through
a live webcam feed of tadpoles. Record-
LEE WILKINS AND SAMANTHA WONG ings are compiled from various artists
to create a unique soundscape based on
the movement and patterns of the ob-
served tadpoles. As the tadpoles move
and evolve, so does the soundscape.

Recordings featured by: Peter Marting,

Michael Ang, Lee Wilkins.

h t t p s : // s o u n d c l o u d . c o m / l e e -

P-326 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-327
Zines have been around for a long time sharing space with for all the inspiration


with the goal of making something and help to make 12 sheets of paper.
cheap and easy to reproduce. This means
there’s a big reliance on printer paper White Paper – Foraged turkey tail
and classic photocopier inks. Though mushrooms from a local trail thanks to
Sid Drmay this can make production easy, it also Blacki’s suggestion, blended with water
means that it’s not the most environ- to get pulpy. This was then put in the
mentally friendly situation. Bleached large plastic container with the 2:1 wa-
printer paper takes a long time to break ter to pulp ratio slurry. It took 5 days of
down, and inks and toners are can be pulling and drying with a dehumidifi-
fairly toxic and create environmental is- er’s help due to the natural moistness of
sues. mushrooms to get 7 sheets of paper.

During DinaCon, my goal was create Black Ink – Foraged charcoal from a
a fully sustainable zine. My concept of small fire, ground down and mixed with
sustainability was making something gum arabic to thicken. Gum arabic was
that would have little environmental the one item I brought with me from
impact and have the ability to break home, I wasn’t sure how much access I
down easily as time goes by. This meant would have to a similar product. This
that I committed to foraging for materi- took about 15 minutes
als to make paper, inks, and binding for
a zine. Blue/Green Ink – Algae pigment pro-
vided by the wonderful Elliot mixed
Here’s a breakdown of the components with water/agar agar and gum arabic to
and the processes involved with each try different textures and thicknesses.
part: Each ink option took a few minutes to
Mould – I made my paper mould on-
site using scrap wood provided by An- Brown Ink – This was made by boiling
drew Coates’ building team and a screen down rumbutan skins for one hour to
that was at Dinalab. This took two days. get a gorgeous deep red burgundy and
then mixing it with agar agar. This took
Brown Paper – Foraged banana tree one hour and 10 minutes to make.
bark, boiled for two hours and then
blended to get pulpy. This was then put Clear Ink – Mix of honey and coffee
in a large plastic packing container with which made a transparent reflective ink
a 2:1 water to pulp ratio called a slurry. It which took the same amount of time as
took about 4 days of pulling and drying. making a pot of coffee.
The final zine was quite successful. It
will be left to slowly degrade on its own Wing Page – All the wings on the cen-
to see how well the handmade zine lasts trefold pages were foraged from differ-
and breaks down. The content is entirely ent dead insects other dinasaurs used
inspired by DinaCon, its attendees, the for their own experiments and projects.
connections I made and experiences I Once they were no longer being used,
had. It has become a love letter to my I removed the wings, put them in the
time in Gamboa this summer. A special slurry, and pulled the sheet with the
thank you to Andy Quitmeyer, Rob Fa- wings embedded.
ludi, Blackii Migliozzi, Elliot Roth, Ramy
Kim, Ananda Gabo, Joetta Gobell, Lee Bindings – The bindings are foraged
Wilkins, Ashlin Aronin, Amanda Savage, vines from a plant in the backyard of
Stephanie Rothenberg, Seamus Kildall, Dinalab that I sewed through the pag-
Andrew Coates, and every other Dina- es for an easy bind. This took about ten
saur that I had the absolute pleasure of minutes.

P-328 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-329
P-330 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-331

P-332 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference

ART±BIO Collaborative is an
artist & scientist-led nonprofit
ISLAND LIFE + DINACON organization based in Cam-
bridge, MA that fosters the inte-
Field Studies of Art+Nature gration of Science, Nature, and
In Puerto Rico and Panamá Art. They focus on broadening
participation and accessibility in
the Arts and Sciences through
novel artistic collaborations, © Saúl Nava,

public engagement, education,

and research. The founders
are Stephanie Dowdy-Nava, an
artist, arts administrator, and
Featured Artists: art educator, and Saúl S. Nava,
SA L S. NAVA, Ph.D. Ph.D., a biologist, artist, and
STEPHANIE DOWDY-NAVA Professor of Biology. Their
± work uses the intersection of
the Arts, Biology, and Natural
CECELIA FIERING History as a catalyst for social
KELSEY KINNETT dialogue and creative ex-
ISLA AZUL NAVA change of ideas with artists,
VIDA NDARI NAVA scientists, and the public.
Collaborative brought a core
group of 12 international artists
CATT WEGLICKI and scientists participating in
ASHLEY ZELINSKIE Field Studies of Art+Nature in
Puerto Rico program
( to continue
their tropical explorations in
Panamá and utilize the natural
habitats as a STUDIO+LAB.
© Saúl Nava,

P-334 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-335
Photo by Ashley Zelinskie

Photo by Ashley Zelinskie

© Saúl Nava, © Saúl Nava
© Saúl Nava,

ART+BIO Happy Hour at STRI

Photo by Ashley Zelinskie Photo by Kelsey Kinnett TROPICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE © Saúl Nava

The Field Studies Art+Bio group led four public engagement STRI Fellows and Dinasaurs
and community outreach events in Gamboa and Panamá City had the opportunity to make
that creatively highlighted the local ecology, herpetology, ani- interactive art and learn about
mal behavior, and natural history of Panamá through artmaking. Art+Bio Collaborative’s Field
Their goal was to take DiNaCon participants out of the confer- Studies of Art + Nature at
ence to share their expertise in the community. These events Art+Bio Happy Hour. Activi-
included an interactive Art+Bio Happy Hour for scientists at the ties included leaf rubbing and
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, a drop-in artmak- flower hammering to create
© Saúl Nava,
ing activity for visitors of the world-renowned BioMuseo, a botanical monoprints, fungal
school visit to the Gamboa Discovery School, and an Art+Bio microscopy, artistic interac-
exhibition at the DiNaLab gallery. tions with a fact-generating
Micro Bit Processor, a hand-
In addition to engaging in community outreach, each visiting painted matching game of
artist pursued individual, interactive art+science projects which Panamánian animals and hab-
they exhibited at the closing gallery exhibition. The following itats, continuous-line animal
pages include images and descriptions of the four ART+BIO drawings on a 12ft panel, and
public engagement events and the individual artists’ pro- live 3D scanning of assembled
jects. Visit to learn more. unique, biological specimens. © Saúl Nava,

P-336 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-337
© Saúl Nava,

Discovery School Visit

Bio Criaturas: Titares en Sombra ART±BIO COLLABORATIVE + GAMBOA
© Saúl Nava,
Art+Bio Collaborative visited with
Art+Bio Collaborative led an
students ages 4-9 years, and ed-
art+science public engagement
ucators at the Gamboa Discov-
event at the BioMuseo in Pana-
ery School to lead artmaking ac-
má City. Participants of all ages,
tivities and talk about the biology
including Panamánian families, and tropical ecology of Panamá.
Dinasaurs, and members of Es- Activities included dynamic leaf
tudio Nuboso, explored micros- rubbings and direct contact UV
copy and Panamánian wildlife by sensitive cyanoprints using plant
creating Shadow Puppets de- matter collected by students.
signed by the 12 Art+Bio Collab- © Saúl Nava,
orative artists. The Biomuseo is
a world-renowned museum de-
signed by architect Frank Gehry
and tells the origin of the Pana-
mánian isthmus and its gigantic
impact on the planet’s biodiversi-
ty throughout eight dynamic,
stunning galleries and a public
biodiversity park.

P-338 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-339
© Saúl Nava,


© Saúl Nava,
Fake Plastic Leaves
ART±BIO Collaborative DiNaLab Exhibition Fabrication by ISLA NAVA + SAÚL NAVA +
Art+Nature in Puerto Rico and Panamá
Using organic plant matter
The Fields Studies + DiNaCon and PLA plastic, 7 year old
adventures culminated in a pop- artist ISLA NAVA used a 3D
up DiNaLab exhibit that featured pen to create UV fluorescent
the work of the 12 Art+Bio artists leaf sculptures. The plastic
and included artwork created col- leaves were juxtaposed
laboratively with students of the against their organic counter-
Gamboa Discovery School, STRI parts and UV flashlights were
researchers, Dinasaurs, and provided so participants could © Saúl Nava,

visitors of the BioMuseo. discover and experiment with

the fluorescence firsthand.

© Saúl Nava,

P-340 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-341
Cyan Botanica



These direct contact Cyanoprints Inspired by a Magic Eight Ball, 10 year old Girl Who Codes,
were created using light sensi- VIDA NAVA designed an interactive Fact-Generator, programmed
tive ink, UV light, and plant mat- with interesting animal facts that she researched and coded into a
ter collected in Gamboa. They Micro Bit Processor. Dinasaurs and Fellows at the Smithsonian
were printed on leaves by Tropical Research Institute learned Panamánian animal facts and,
STEPHANIE DOWDY-NAVA, guided by Vida, drew animals randomly selected by the Micro Bit.
and on paper in collaboration
with children and educators from
the Gamboa Discovery School
and the Art+Bio Collaborative. © Saúl Nava,

Still from My Gamboan Photo

Album a Digital Photo Series by
© Saúl Nava, VIDA NAVA

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Mundito is a collage of three different

ecosystems: eroded beach pools, jun-
gle cave, and dry desert forest. Using
portable 3D scanning technology, these
remote areas are brought to the viewer.
ASHLEY ZELINSKIE Their contrasting colors and textures
create an otherworldly scene reminis-
cent of a Roger Dean album cover. The
odd landscape is left inside a sphere
for the viewer to discover, like breaking
open a geode.

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Printed digital patterns, yarn, video the audio recording was analyzed, dig- Drawing from animals seen firsthand ences. The result was a collaborative 12-
ital patterns were created, highlighting while in Puerto Rico during Art+Bio Col- foot panel of tropical animal drawings
Kids’ observations are stories that should in black the pauses in speech and show- laborative’s Island Life: Field Studies of using the continuous line technique,
be preserved, as they represent the sim- ing in white the moments when the Art+Nature program, illustrator CATT which was exhibited in the Art+Bio pop-
plest yet most complex way of under- children spoke. Honoring the weaving WEGLICKI created a series of dynam- up exhibit. Catt also created a 6x6 foot
standing the ecosystems around them. tradition of indigenous communities ic, continuous-line animal drawings on animal mural on-site, on the front exte-
around Gamboa, these patterns were long panels. At Dinacon, she continued rior of DiNaLab.
These pieces took observations in the then translated to small weaving pieces her animal studies of Panamanian wild-
form of audio recorded by multime- and installed in the Art+Bio Collabora- life, and she invited researchers at the
dia artist FRANCESCA RODRIGUEZ tive Dinalab exhibition, as a way of mak- Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
SAWAYA from three young students at ing a tangible representation of stories to draw alongside her, using her photo-
the Gamboa Discovery School. Once that should be preserved. graphs of animals in the wild as refer-

P-346 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-347
After researching and observing Pana- the puzzle the fastest while discussing

manian endangered species, Kelsey Kin- ways in which humans affect their envi-
nett designed and created an interactive, ronment.
magnetic painting. The painting operat- Kelsey photographed a wildlife se-
ed as an educational puzzle that places ries collected while observing different
KELSEY KINNETT endangered species in their homes in Puerto Rican and Panamanian biomes,
the wild. The puzzle was demonstrated along with a painting of howler mon-
on Smithsonian Tropical Research In- keys that depicted the intersection of
stitute fellows before it was presented to art and science from her perspective
students at Gamboa Discovery School, during her field studies with the Art+Bio
where students competed to complete Collaborative.

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A compendium of some of the insects

and arachnids found during our trip to
Puerto Rico and Panama. Specimens
were painted on watercolor paper and
cut with an xacto knife, and then mount-
Megan Wyreweden ed into the box with glue and a pin. The
GOUACHE, INK, AND FOUND FISHING LINE ON WATERCOL- box was thrifted prior to the trip, and
OR PAPER the antennae were made with fishing
line found on a beach in Puerto Rico.

P-352 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-353


ISLAND LIFE is a “visual field

guide,” an illustrated species list,
and a coloring book. It features
most of the iconic animals and
plants that the Art+Bio
collaborative found in Puerto
Rico. It is
downloadable for free
f and is
intended to be used as
educational material for anyone
with an interest in teaching or
learning about the ecology of
Puerto Rico. Available in English
and Spanish versions.


Left: English
Right: Spanish

Diseñado y ilustrado por Andromyda Wagenman

P-354 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-355
Diseñado y ilustrado por Andromyda Wagenman
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"Leave an Impression" is a collection of

drawings made in collaboration with kids
from the Gamboa Discovery School and
adults during Art+Bio led Happy Hour.
Participants used leaf rubbing to create
complex layered drawings that directly
reference site specific plant life. The final
presentation was a curated selection of the
work we made together, hung on the wall
in a 4x5 grid as one piece.

"Small Things Thrive in Nooks and Crannies" is a series of 3 small watercolor paintings
depicting the lichen growing on the trees and walls everywhere in Gamboa. Taken out
of context, these paintings are abstract, though they represent the very real presence
and beauty of these plant/fungi communities that thrive in any place they can.

A large spikey caterpillar that has been

infected by Cordyceps fungus
(Photo by A. Quitmeyer)
P-362 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 P-363

364 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 365
Estimated Money Collected: $38,276
The following data was collected from our Actual Money Collected (because of cancellations, etc...): $30,643
participants in the form of surveys they Additional ad-hoc donations: $3,400
filled out before and after their experience Fundraising/Book Sales: $2,000
at Dinacon. Of the 112 participants about
45 filled out these surveys giving an ap- ADOPTA Housing and Food Fees: $32,076
proximate response rate of 40%.
Dinalab Rent/Mortgage: $2,995
It is compiled here in the hopes that we
can use this information to better assess Production and Documentation Team + Materials: $2,680
and study the impact and development of
the Digital Naturalism Conference. Total Income $36,043
Total Expenses: $37, 751

Predicted Net (Gain) $525

Actual Net (Loss- Paid by Andy) $1,708 USD

*Note this is a significant improvement over Dinacon 1’s Net expenditure of about $9,000



$120,000 USD

$1,050 USD

Partial institution sponsor

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Dinalab had a great first year, and we used by community members, and some


want to share some of our accomplish- ambitious scientists even used them to
ments with you! It feels incredible that, build a public climbing wall.
just under a year ago, we moved into this
house in the Soberanía National Forest in We would like DInalab to be a resource
KITTY KELLY AND ANDREW QUITMEYER Panamá, and with the help of many peo- and a community gatherinng place for
ple, we’ve done so much since then. the community of Gamboa, and to that
end, we host periodic arts and crafts
We’re very happy to announce that we nights and Open Labs. At the arts and
This was Digital Naturalism Laboratories’ incorporated our business, Dinalab, S.A., crafts nights, Gambodians gather to
first year as a real entity. We rennovated here in Panamá. The business is located paint, draw, knit, or even learn how to
the house, turned it into a hacker lab, and in the house we bought in Gamboa, and create art with some of our lab equip-
held numerous open events for scientists we’re well on our way to paying off our ment. For example, lots of our scientist
and the nearby community. We tried to mortgage. We also had solar panels in- friends learned how to use our laser
gather some basic stats about what we did stalled, and the house is now 100% pow- cutter and designed and made their own
so we can understand what we were able to ered by the intense, tropical sun. holiday gifts and tree ornaments.
accomplish throughout this wild year.
In August, Andrew hosted Dinacon 2, the The Open Labs are a series of informal
second in a series of extended, iconoclas- afternoons where anyone can come
tic conferences that we hope to continue by with an idea to try or a problem
in 2021. The conference brought artists, to solve. The primary goal is to help
scientists, and technologists from all over STRI scientists with their experiments.
the world to the incredible ecosystem of Some friends from the butterfly lab
the Panamanian forest. Most of the par- approached us with the aim of creating
ticipants stayed at Adopta Bosque, a local a decoy butterfly that would fly realis-
organization that used housing fees from tically enough to attract live butterflies.
the conference to protect and maintain We’ve helped out with various develop-
threatened Panamanian forests. Confer- ments for the bat lab, including assisting
ence participants explored the natural Amanda Savage to climb trees on Barro
wonders around Gamboa, learned new Colorado Island so that she could collect
skills from each other, visited scientists’ data on bat colonies. Some concerns are
labs at the Smithsonian Tropical Re- mundane, but no less pressing: Ernes-
search Institute, and created some fan- to Bonadies of the bee lab complained
tastic scientific and artistic works. There that the motion sensors in his lab cause
were too many fascinating projects from everything to turn off when the lab is
Dinacon 2 to list here, so please take a empty overnight, which can ruin ex-
look at the conference proceedings! periments. He and Andrew designed
and created a simple device that sens-
Locally, Dinalab is making an impact on es whenever the lights go out and then
the scientists of the Smithsonian Trop- moves, triggering the lab’s motion sen-
ical Research Institute (STRI) as well as sors and turning the lights back on. Some
the inhabitants of Gamboa. In the Dinal- non-STRI-related community members
ab gallery, we’ve hosted six exhibitions of also came up with cool ideas for using
work and art by our fellow Gambodians, our prototyping equipment, such as 3D
which gives the whole town a chance printing custom mouthpieces and acces-
to see the amazing work done by our sories for a neighbor who plays the eu-
friends and neighbors. During a work- phonium!
shop where we fixed up bikes, we sal-
vaged two workable bikes from the parts We also teamed up with other local ad-
of broke-down bikes, and we now offer venturers, such as Andrew Coates, to set
those free of charge to the community up a Rescue Squad for Pipeline Road, a
for those in need. Our extensive collec- historic road into the forest that is heav-
tion of tools can also be checked out and ily used by scientists and tourists alike as

386 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 387
a way to interact with nature. Given that biologists, as it would vastly improve on Wrapping up 2019 Talks and Workshops
the road is a little remote and can pres- the limitations of current camera traps. Accomplishments • The Hague and presentation on Din-
ent dangers, we installed two first aid kits • Incorporated business acon
along the path, and we have helped to We have lots of exciting ideas in devel- • Bought house • Santa Barbara
extract seven groups of people who got opment for 2020, including: a residency • Ran Dinacon 2 for 31 days with 112 • Panama art museum
stuck on Pipeline or otherwise required program for hosting artists, scientists, people • UC Boulder
assistance. and technologists; experiments studying • Solar panels - lab is 100% solar-pow- • STRI - 1 Tupper, 2 Bambi
the behavior of local agouti cuties; and ered • Harvey Mudd
This year, some of our friends and as- lots more knitted and crocheted jungle • Kitty crafted 30+ yarn creatures for • Dinacon
sociates were able to join us to accom- animals. Make sure to check our blog and fundraising and gifts to the smithso- Open Labs and Pro-bono Consulting
plish common goals. Our first artist in Instagram for more updates, and contact nian • Ran 25 open labs throughout the year
residence was Craig Durkin, who helped us at! • Kitty created 10+ upcycled plastic yarn • Ran 10 craft nights
us to set up many parts of Dinalab, in- (“Plarn”) items of furniture, toys, and • Ran 3 Bicycle repair workshops
cluding our first 3D printer. Marc Juul, gear. • Artificial butterfly for butterfly lab
co-founder of People’s Open Network • Comissioned to do 3D prints by the • STRI Motion sensor hacker for orchid
in Oakland, also participated in our res- Smithsonian for scanned archaeologi- bee lab
idency program, where he worked on cal artifacts • Consulted for Amanda Savage’s bat
his 360-degree microphone and helped • Andy served as committee member canopy research
us install a LoRa network for Gamboa, for Dani Hoogendijk- graduated • Lasercut art projects
which provides a long range, low pow- • Art/Tech residents - Durkin,Juul, • 3D printed Mouthpieces for musical
er wireless platform to anyone in town. Hoogendijk intstruments
Dani Hoogendijk did a residency build- • Established the Pipeline Rescue Squad Grants
ing 360 camera traps, which added a fin- in collaboration with Andrew Coates • Conservation X Labs Tech Prize
ishing layer to her school work, and she • Helped rescue 7 STRI crews + several ($3500)
returned to the Netherlands to graduatee others stuck behind jungle treefalls • Helped obtain numerous grants and
from university! • Ran weekly free documentary nights reiumbursements for Dinacon partici-
• 2 first aid kits installed on pipeline pants (>$30K)
Dinalab also got to travel a fair amount road
this year, spreading the philosophy of • Open LORA network that covers
Digital Naturalism around the world. We Gamboa
were very pleased to be asked to speak • Held Free Yoga sessions on porch
at the Crossing Border festival in the • Gallery parties with gallery highlight-
Hague, Holland, where we and two Dina- ing work of local artists and scientists
saurs gave a talk on Dinacon 2. Andrew - 6 exhibitions in total
was also invited to give talks and host • Setup the Dinabike bike share for
workshops at UC Santa Barbara, Harvey gamboa
Mudd, and UC Boulder. Locally, Andrew • Created tools for checkout system
also spoke at the Museujm of Contem- used to repair equipment, and make
porary Art in Panama City, and he gave Gamboa’s climbing wall
three talks to STRI scientists, two at the • Created and sold several prototypes
main facility in Panama City, and one Gamboa-themed board games, toys,
Bambi talk on Barro Colorado Island. decorations, tools

Dinalab received a grant this year from

Conservation X Labs to develop a 360
degree camera trap for unobtrusively ob-
serving animals in the wild. Andrew and
Dani Hoogendijk spent many long hours
making a case to protect their “Panatrap”
from the rain and figuring out how to
trigger the camera to take a photo when
an animal passes by. This work is ongo-
ing and could be hugely useful to field

388 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 389
One of the first things people often


want to know when coming to the jun-
gle for the first time is, “What can kill
me?”Generally, most folks’ imaginations
jump to romantic thoughts of venomous
ANDREW QUITMEYER, RUBEN OYA, AND LOCAL DI- creatures or muscular beasts with sharp
NASAUR EMERGENCY ACTION CREW fangs. We try to give everyone a basic
safety orientation and let them know
about tropical diseases, fer-de-lance
snakes, and jaguar sightings, but we also
try to hammer in the idea of how incred-
ibly lucky you would be to see a jaguar in
person. Most importantly, we try to end
the safety orientation with a description
of the most prevalent danger in dense
rainforests: falling.

“Yes, we have vipers, bullet ants, pumas,

and jaguars, but the main way you will
get hurt out here is by slipping, falling,
and smashing into something,” I would
explain to fresh Dinasaurs. Unfortu-
nately on the second to last day of the
month-long conference, we finally did
have a serious emergency of this exact

The group was spending the morning

visiting a nearby trail, Plantation Road,
which has a lovely series of cascading
pools a kilometers up the jungle path.
The Dinasaurs had visited this same spot
earlier in Dinacon, and they had a won-
derful time exploring the forest, splash-
ing in the waterfalls, and doing projects
in the jungle (like Michal making silicone
casts of natural forms along the creek). sharp, wet cliff and waterfall that must
We only had one, barely functioning, go down 20 meters. I was at the top poo,
truck at this point, and I was spending and starting to move down to the next
most of the morning wrangling peo- pool, when suddenly people starting
ple, driving them to the hiking site, and screaming. Leoni and Paivi were calling
going back to Gamboa to grab another for me and yelling about Ruben. I clam-
truck load. By the time I got to the pools bered down, and they quickly told me
myself, most folks had already been that people had been climbing on the
there having fun for over an hour. I was steep, wet, waterfall cliff below, and Ru-
exhausted. I quickly stripped down to my ben fell off and was seriously hurt. We
undies and hopped into a nice pool to couldn’t even see that far down the cliff,
chill out. so I didn’t even know if he was conscious
or anything. My heart sank, but I me-
Just off the trail, there is a simple creek thodically went and grabbed shoes and
that feeds into a series of three gentle went down the cliff myself to see what
pools. At the bottom of these pools is a was happening. I could see right away
larger plateau, beach area, and then a how this accident could happen. The wall
seems easily climbable, but it is covered
390 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 391
392 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 393
in wet, slippery moss. I misstepped once, ed on his head and landed in the shallow pid things. For instance he yawned and I saw his knee in person, it was disfig-
and fell on the rocks, but then I kept pool below. I thought for sure his neck leaned back, putting his arm and body ured, but I thought it must have been just
sliding another meter because there was was broken, or he would have a cracked weight directly on to Ruben’s busted dislocated. It turned out his kneecap had
nothing to grab on to. I made it halfway skull. I was furious and worried, and knee. Unfortunately, these ambulance pretty much exploded.
down the cliff and could see Ruben. He luckily he popped his head out of the folks were going to be the ones he was
was sitting on a rock with three others water. He was laying on his back. Thank- going to have to stay with for the next In the end, everyone made it out, and
around him. I shouted down to ask how fully he also didn’t fall on to Ruben, and several hours. Ruben will have plenty of therapy to get
he was. Everything was loud from the miraculously he was able to stand (albeit his knee back in shape. The escapade un-
falling water. We could barely hear each achingly) after a couple minutes. Some- Ruben had nice health insurance in derlines the serious difficulties of work-
other. Ruben was alive and conscious to how he was totally fine. Spain, and apparently the cheapest op- ing in the wild and the dangers that lie in
my great relief. I moved a bit closer until tion was going to be to hold him in the things as basic as wet rocks.
I was in the middle of the cliff, negotiat- Mónica Rikić had apparently already hospital in Panama for a week and then
ing with the people on the beach above called the emergency number, which fly him to Europe for the surgery. When
me, and Ruben and the others below. made me a bit concerned as well. I once
had to deal with Panama’s ambulance
He had fallen down the cliff and his knee companies once, and they were dan-
landed directly on a large boulder below. gerously inept. I had gotten a systemic
It was another huge relief when I could infection and was lying shaking on the
see that his knee didn’t have bones jut- ground. They refused to pick me up, and
ting out, and there was no gushing blood when my friends drove me to meet them
to be seen. The biggest danger in these in the ambulance, the seven EMTs spill-
next moments seemed to be how to stop ing out of the ambulance like a clown
our mob of 30 people from doing any- car just accused me of being “borracho”
thing that could further complicate this (drunk). So I didn’t want them adding
situation. For instance, someone had more people to this madness.
already tossed a waterbottle down to aid
Ruben, but which actually just smacked Luckily three different emergency ser-
him. vices responded to the call. The first were
two park rangers (dressed in camo) who
I split the worried group above into understood the forest enough to radio
teams to secure transport, prepare items the info about what was needed to others
we might need, make contact with emer- on the way, and then start scouting ways
gency folks. Still lots of folks above want- out. Next came the standard ambulance
ed to come help directly, and I had to crew I feared (dressed in blue) who kinda
yell at some to not start climbing down showed up, seemed to get bored quickly,
the cliff too. and started taking selfies. Finally, a crew
of forest rescue people arrived (dressed
Ruben was not stuck at the bottom of in orange) with a stretcher, sled, and
a ravine, and we had to figure out how rope.
to get him out without making his knee
worse. Ramy jumped straight to crafting We tied Ruben down and carried him to
Ruben a splint while Thomas went off the extraction point. We stationed peo-
with a machete to find a possible easy ple up and down an edge of the ravine
way through the forest to carry Ruben. that we macheted clear and lowered a
We were weighing our options when set of ropes. Then we took shifts pass-
another body went shooting down the ing Ruben up to the people above while
cliff right across from me. It was one of being supported by the ropes. Once up
the guys from above who wanted to help, to the trail above, we put Ruben in the
and was climbing around the edge look- back of a pickup truck and tried to hold
ing for a way down. He shot down the him still on the bumpy way back down
wet cliff like he was on a tobbogan, and a hiking trail on a truck. One of the am-
at the bottom shot off the edge, and free bulance guys in blue kept getting bored
fell the last couple of meters sort of tilt- in the truck and would do terribly stu-

394 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 395
After five days of immersion in nature

and a very rich exchange with fellow Di-
nasaurs, my experience in Dinacon 2019
ended abruptly on Friday, August 30th.

RUBEN OYA I suffered a fall while we were having

a bath in the river next to Gamboa. I
slipped down a stone wall and landed
with my knee against a rock. There was
no blood, but you could see my kneepad
was broken and divided into two parts.

Luckily, I was really well attended by

fellow first-aid-pro Dinasaurs, and nu-
merous rescue teams arrived to literal-
ly carry me out of the jungle. Pictures
of the rescue made it to different local
twitter accounts as the weekend’s rescue

I stayed 3 nights at a public hospital

in Panama and then travelled back to
Spain where I had surgery. My kneepad
got fixed back to one piece, and a few
months later I started walking again.

Looking back, I have to admit that I was

shocked and felt fear when I first saw my
knee on the accident spot and later on
the x-rays and tomography scan imag-
es. You see your bones smashed like that
and start thinking about the fragility of
your body and if you will fully recover. I
still have concerns about it.

This incident made me take a break

from my actual plans. Right after Pan- natural evolution to bring objects to life,
ama, I was going to visit Berlin and the applying a digital layer to them, creating
Ars Electronica festival in Linz. And on a experiences in form of installations and
professional level, I had to cancel 3 sub- wearables. I also started exploring this
jects at design school in Barcelona that I digital layer on its own, generating visual
wasn’t able to teach anymore. Instead I content in the form of light- on screen,
was laying on bed for weeks. Lots of time with LED, or laser hardware.
to think.
As soon as I was able to sit on the com-
I have an industrial design background puter, I got back to work on my portfolio
and recently entered new media art to website. I had started the design earlier
explore interactivity. My concerns are in August. The goal was to reflect the
focused on quality and efficiency of the value of interactivity, meaning the site
interaction translating to impact on a had to react to the visitor or her envi-
human level and sustainability. ronment. Earlier this year, I discovered
this free online tool to create interactive
As an industrial, designer it felt like a visual web content called Cables. I got
started with it and even planned joining
396 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 397
a meetup with the creators (Undev stu- The project is called “broken knee,”
dio) in Berlin right after Panama. But my and it stands for taking the pain I went
knee wouldn’t allow me. through and create something positive
out of it. It took me back to my website’s
By October, I found the strength to pub- goal to offer an online experience. The
lish my website with some of my previ- result is a “VJ application” that reacts to
ous work. I also managed to set up the everyone’s music or ambient sound.
project developed during Dinacon with
Mónica Ríkic: the frog show. It is about I am adding new patches as a selection of
visualizing the live natural frog singing what I called “techno tapas”, technologi-
show with some simple solar powered cal capsules from which you can choose.
LED lights. The documentation was
short because of my accident, but a nice You can check these projects and the rest
video came out. of my work at

By November, I started lecturing at the

design school and was offered to co-or-
ganize an audiovisual show for Barcelo-
na’s Poblenou Open Night event. I had to
push my knee, but it all ended up pretty

I was getting back to some activity out-

side of home, and it felt good. I started
looking back at the accident and was mo-
tivated to do something out of the shock-
ing medical scan data of my knee. This is
where I found the free software InVesali-
us to translate my computer tomography
scan data from the hospital to a 3d mod-
el. I uploaded it to the previously men-
tioned Cables online tool and developed
an audio reactive patch to visualise it.

398 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 399
Posted on December 10, 2019 by DiNa- team, and work out the logistics for a ter-

DINACON 3 - 2021
Con_Admin rific Dinacon 3. Most importantly, it will
give us a much-needed break to work
Dinacon POSTPONED UNTIL 2021 on our own projects and personal sus-
tainability. Kitty and I spent the entirety
ANDREW QUITMEYER First of all, thanks so much to those who of 2019 pretty much getting the lab to-
could join us at some point over these gether, prepped and ready for Dinacon,
last two years in either Thailand, Pan- cleaning it up after the conference, and
ama, or both! We really appreciate you going through the resulting documenta-
taking time out of your busy schedules to tion. It was a terrific, massive stress-test
join a weird, experimental community of of the facilities and everything Dinalab
neat folks in interesting environments. It should be. It worked perfectly to connect
has been wonderful and magical, and it us up with locals and demonstrate the
makes me so happy to see the wonder- possibilities of our new jungle lab. Now
ful projects, collaborations, friendships it will be exciting to spend some time
forged, and fascinations with non-hu- in Dinalab and actually get to crank on
man environments and creatures that some projects myself too! Also, consider-
were developed. ing most conferences last 3-5 days, over
the past 2 years it’s kind of like we ran
Unfortunately, at the beginning of No- over 15 conferences!
vember, the place we were counting on
having for Dinacon 2020 fell through. Common Questions:
You may not realize it, but a big weird
event like Dinacon is a year-round job, “Andy, why not just do it at your house
and before we start accepting people or again?”
even open applications, we need to have
a sure-fire place lined up, and this hap- – the entire goal of Dinacon as an exper-
pens after many months of scouting and imental conference is to create a gather-
comparing places. Missing out on a spot ing of people that focuses on connecting
at the last minute like this puts a major people and technology deeply with a
crunch on us because we also need to specific, contextual place. A disadvantage
leave time for applicants to consider and to this is that, unfortunately, not every-
prepare themselves, their travels, and body in the world has access to all the
their funding. other parts of the world. So I wanted to
make it a goal that our Conference would
Since then, Lee, Sid, and I gave ourselves move to different places and allow others
an extra month to see if we could hunt the opportunity to join us. We will like-
down a spot meeting our multifaceted ly have Dinacon in Panama again, but I
criteria. Many of you gave great sug- wouldn’t want to hold it there without
gestions and contacts, and we compiled bouncing around to some other hemi-
a document of cool venues that might spheres a bit.
good for future DinaconS. We have zero
funding for actually being able to scout “Andy, why not just make it like 2 weeks! Go
out any of these places, but hopefully easy on yourself!”
some serendipity will bring us by.
-For me, one of the key features of Din-
So for now, we have decided to call off acon was its extended duration and in-
Dinacon for the year 2020. We are aim- ter-generationality. I want to give people
ing to have the next Dinacon set some- the opportunity to slow down, experi-
time in June or July, 2021. ence a place, and intermesh with their
surroundings and each other. I also feel
This will give us time to hunt down a that there is a certain magic in groups
great venue, connect with a good local that comes from not having everyone

400 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 401
begin and end at the same time. It simu-
lates longer term communities and proj-
ects. It forces people to take on responsi-
bilities, help others, make key decisions,
and understand that the fear-of-missing-
out is inevitable, as nobody will really
experience the whole thing. It also makes
people reflect on their own work and
communication, and prepare their ideas
and knowledge to be passed down to the
new generations. That might be one of
the most important skills there is.

So, I don’t think I would consider doing a

Dinacon shorter than 3 weeks, and I feel
that 4-5 weeks is a good sweet spot.

“Oh, I know the best place to have a Dina-


-Cool, let us know! Send us links to the

place, a contact person, what facilities are
available, when it might be available, a
rough idea of prices, and we can add it to
our document of potential places in the

“We should run our own regional Dinacons

all over the world!”

-Sure thing, go for it! A big reason I do

this is to try to demonstrate that you can
pull off meaningful, productive get-to-
gethers with people and neat places
without much costs or getting big insti-
tution funding or permission. It’s been
great seeing all the meetups people have
already organized as they travel around
the world. My only request is that if you
organize something yourselves, you
are clear about who is organizing it and
responsible, and who is NOT organizing
it (i.e. Me + Digital Naturalism Laborato-

While we are all a bit dismayed that we

won’t have a Dinacon for 2020, we hope
we all can direct that extra energy to
helping out each other and all the living Evening drinks at a old gas station being renno-
creatures around us. vated into a sustainable architecture design firm
overlooking some billionaire’s droneship that got
Enjoy the fossil-life -Andy stopped in the canal

402 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 403
404 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 405
Dinalab and Dinacon were effectively sponsored in 2019 by freelance
programming work we did for

Flagg Visual Computing

GLOWCAKE: Projection Mapped Wedding Cakes

If you would like to order a magical animated cake customized for your next
wedding or special event, contact

406 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference Gamboa, Panama 2019 407
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408 Proceedings of the Second Digital Naturalism Conference

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