Electric Wonderland summer camp, interview with Deborah Hustić

Before the first ever Electric Wonderland summer camp for hackers and makers to happen first week of September in Fužine, Croatia, Makery interviewed Deborah Hustić from Radiona, the main organiser of the gathering.

Indeed in the first seven days of sun-kissed September the idyllic surroundings of Fužine, close to Adriatic’s main port town of Rijeka in the North of Croatia, will become a gathering place for hackers and makers that seek to combine Do It Yourself, electronic music instruments, design, robotics, biohacking and many more hands-on activities and discussions under the general theme “Emerging environments”. Makery discussed with Deborah Hustić, from Zagreb makerspace’s Radiona, about their new maker camp to be organised as part of the Feral Labs Network.

Deborah Hustić.

Can you tell us what Electric Wonderland will look like in few words?

Electric Wonderland is an international hacker/maker camp located in the small town Fužine near the coastal city of Rijeka. It’s an international scout center entitled Rakov Jarak (Crab Stream) with great possibilities. It offers camping in nature and all the necessary facilities to maintain a tech-based gathering for 7 days. The camp will thematise hybrid forms of expression with a lot of workshops from DIY music electronic instruments and devices, blockchain, smart city technology, biohacking, design thinking, DIY kitchen lab, robotics, paper art&craft, movables, solar energy and renewable energies – climate changes, recycling objects, citizen science, etc.

Darko Vajda: Big Muff Pi – guitar effect workshop at Radiona © Deborah Hustić.
Spirograph drawing machine workshop at Radiona by Clément Pasquet © Deborah Hustić
Workshop Mobiles and movable objects at Radiona by Damir Prizmić © Deborah Hustić
Mitch Altman during his residency at Radiona in 2018 © Deborah Hustić.

As Radiona is very fond of citizen participation, we will also do guerilla mini workshops/interventions for the local population in the town of Fužine in order to introduce maker culture in the context of art, science and technology. People will have an opportunity to join the workshops and lectures as they wish, bring their own projects for development, give a freestyle lecture, wander around the woods and lakes to explore the nature, enjoy great food, organise mini trips to the coast, hang around the camp, maintain the camping fire in the middle, enjoying or performing each evening at a concert/jamming in the camp, reading, doing nothing, exercising, hiking or cycling, helping to maintain the camp, just to name a few. No to mention exploring the local flora and fauna with biologists, artists and tech geeks.

The beautiful area of Fužine © Rakov Jarak
One of the lakes and the view on Fužine from the camp site © Rakov Jarak

Why the name Electric Wonderland?

The camp is located in the woods and surrounded by two lakes, so it’s literally a wonderland. We want to get lost ourselves in the idea of co-creation and creative re-thinking of technology, science and art combined with nature. Electric Wonderland is a very bucolic, pastoral comprehension of innovation, DIY/DIWO community combined with nature and biodiversity. Come and join us, delve into Electric Wonderland.

A real retreat in nature © Deborah Hustić
Huts to host the participants © Rakov Jarak

What is the general framework you provide to people so they feel comfortable and what kind of philosophy you want to promote?

Our philosophy is connecting unconnectable, creation and co-creation, participation, inclusion and constant digging through the labyrinths of the unknown. We like curiosities the same as we like to reinvent and reverse engineering of already known patterns. Keep it simple and just continue climbing : ” Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”, says Henry David Thoreau.

This will be your first summer camp. Why did you choose Fužine and do you plan to connect with the local community?

As Croatia is a lovely country with amazing nature, but also a heavy touristic attraction as well, we realized the best way to have a great camp would be near a small township in the woods, 30 minutes from the Adriatic coast with facilities makers, hackers, artists and campers might need for seven days of co-creation. As Rijeka is going to be the European Capital for Culture 2020, we think the best way to engage the audience and create the best visibility for the camp Electric Wonderland and maker culture would be to involve the local community into the process of co-creation in order to discover citizens as artists and explorers.

Does the summer camp involve any artists in residence or any long-term partnerships with artists or institutions?

Yes, the summer camp will include two residential artists, one of them is Yuri Landman, the second one we are still keeping a secret for the second call. Our peers from Drugo more (Rijeka-based NGO) will also partner with us for the camp, so we plan to visit the city of Rijeka within the program in order to scatter our program a bit to the coastal and urban parts of Primorsko-goranska county. We will also include our peers from Green Energy Cooperative, Birdlife Affiliate BIOM, TerraHub and UNDP in order to get more climate changes and renewable energy topics in the program, to just name a few. The camp will also host very diverse workshops and open lab sessions in the camp and outside for our campers and local community, as well as evening gatherings around the fire with music performances.

Last few words to convince participants to join Electric Wonderland this year?

If you like hybrid forms of expressions, camping and hacking devices or just a companionship of creatives and geeks in nature and want to get yourself OFF the grid, then come to our side, we have it all!


More info about Radiona and the Electric Wonderland open call.

The Feral Labs Network is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

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