There’s life beyond our screens

On the last day of 180 Creative Camp 2017, as I walked along the wall where the posters from Inês Nepumoceno and Moriz Oberberger workshop were hanging, one of them caught my attention and somehow summed up everything I had been trying to put together regarding these days. It was the word and image chosen by Silvana Frinculescu, from Romania, who I’ve sadly just chatted for the first time almost in the end of the week. She chose the word “ubiqua” to define Abrantes with a picture taken at the skate park. You could read in the description: “A picture taken in Abrantes that could easily pass as a neighborhood in Berlin or Bucharest. Proof that the politics of play never change”. It was also quite curious that camp’s last night actually had that same skate park you see in the photo as its scenario.

Photo taken by Silvana Frinculescu during Inês Nepumoceno and Moriz Oberberger’s workshop

During the week, one keeps thinking the world is actually really tiny and, although it’s quite unlikely such different people are living a week together in Abrantes — not even a big city of Portugal -, it also seems completely right. Some people come to our country for the first time just to go to Abrantes and to 180 Creative Camp. It’s rare to have someone from abroad who already knows the city, but not impossible: Thomas Mandl, who joined the camp to present his project What Else Europe, already knew Sofalca, a local cork company everyone got to know a bit better during a presentation of local projects we had in the middle of the week. These type of curiosities really make me reflect on how a network has been consolidating during the 5 years camp has been happening.

“It’s much more about the connections you make than about what you do in the workshops. It’s about networking”.

It’s more than having an over the top line-up. Katarzyna Dorda was invited to come to the camp after Canal180 worked with her at ReSite. She’s part of our network and here at the camp she realised more than ever that going to conferences or workshops isn’t about what you do. “It’s much more about the connections you make than about what you do in the workshops, where time is very limited. It’s about networking”.

Lourenço Providência told us the same. He was a participant 4 years ago. Last year he collaborated with us in the production team and this year, along with Diogo Matos, he was responsible for 180 Creative Camp’s identity. “You never know how a workshop is going to be like: if it’s more theoretical, more practical. If you’ll be able to settle the concept with the artists or will be just used as an object for their idea. Nothing wrong with any of it, I like both processes. But the most important thing here is to get to know artists, being able to listen to their feedback, to discuss”.

Beatriz Chaves and Beatriz Lopes, two of the 180 Creative Camp attendees

Then you have together people with such a big age gap, and it’s when you realise age is totally overrated. Two of the youngest participants, Beatriz Chaves and Beatriz Lopes, both 17, had the chance to show their work in cinematography to everyone in the camp, having had amazing inputs, which are quite important in a first phase of a creative work. But then you listen to Chris Unwin, founder of The Creator Class, telling everyone how he constantly felt the need to stop and take notes during the week because what he was finding out and learning with everyone in Abrantes was just too much and too inspiring. I know it’s quite obvious. I know people learn a lot with each other in other events, regardless their age. Yet in 180 Creative Camp it feels different, it feels more open, with no barriers. As Beatriz Chaves said, “it’s different from other events — here there are no barriers between us and he artists. They don’t act as if they are above the participants. There’s a free dialogue between both parts, so it has been a very fulfilling week. It’s an intimate event, where connections happen more easily.”

The environment felt during 180 Creative Camp is peculiar. It certainly wouldn’t be so strong if it were in a bigger city, where people would have distractions that would stop them to fully engage with other people. Constraints are also important in creative processes and in this case space plays a huge role. Also the relationship between campers, locals, and the city was never this remarkable. I take with me some of the most meaningful images of the camp:

AURANTES/ABRANTES by Diogo Aguiar Studio (left). Presentation and invitation for POLONIO FURNITURE to the locals (right).

“Humans are the most valuable aspect of the internet”
Chris Unwin (The Creator Class) & Jeff Hamada (Booooooom) at 180 Media Arts Conference

The week started with the 180 Media Arts Conference, where so many people talked about their screen based projects. Internet makes the world seem bigger, yet closer. But then there’s life offline, which sometimes seems comprised to the screens. It’s nice to know people can still engage so beautifully with a new community and environment, without the help of a device. As Chris Unwin pointed out “humans are the most valuable aspect of the internet”.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s digital or analogic — what’s important is to create”

180 Creative Camp is made of differences and diversity, yet full of similarities and common points. Everyone has something to share and to add. Like Andrés Colmenares, founder of Internet Age Media, reminded us during his stay “You’re awesome!”. And that’s why this was awesome. Also, you don’t have to feel pressured or minimised when facing other people’s work. Just like Stephan and Ulrik from PUTPUT said “it doesn’t matter if it’s digital or analogic — what’s important is to create”. And that can come in many different forms.

You’re all (really) awesome. See you in 2018.