Cloak & dagger creativity camp

Piotr Migdał
Jun 19 · 5 min read
photo by Medeea Haruki

“You cannot create an experience, you can create [conditions] for an experience.” — Seth Minard

Last autumn, I participated in the Stone Soup, an experience design camp (30 Aug–3 Sept 2018, Przyborowo, Poland). It was the second edition, after one in California. (NEWS: There is a new one 26–29 July 2019, Kaldenbroeck, Netherlands!)

The schedule was bottom-up and dynamic.

Before

I got invited by Magda Jagielska, my closest friend’s closest friend. Looking at the list of participants (publicly updated as we signed up), I got intrigued. On the one hand — creative and successful people, who already contributed to curious projects in experience design. On the other — I was a bit afraid that it may turn into a “cooler than thou”-fest of self-absorbed divas (myself included).

Consumption

There was a temptation to write about all the experiences. But… I tried a few times, and it looked meek. Some things were too immersed in the mood & context, others are anything but words. The same way as an Instagram photo of a dish does not transmit its smell, taste, and texture. Unless you are have already experienced something, subtle hints won’t recall the experience.

Footage by Gunnar de Jong
  • fire dance show
  • dynamic medication (~releasing emotions with shouts, movement, etc)
  • relaxation room, for napping, less-dynamic medication
  • as a random challenge, I have made a drama with a tree (shouting that they don’t love me anymore); but reconciled later!
  • field games and quests (a trip to an island to recover words)
  • brainstorming on creating experiences (what is an experience? what is a guided one, what is a game, what is a sandbox?)

“[A game is a] voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles” — Bernard Suits

  • dinner in the forest, with candles and artificial fog
  • a 5-course dinner, in a slow and reflective mood, with carefully prompted discussions experiences (what is possible to experience, what
    isn’t, what is an experience; yes, I referred to “What Is it Like to
    Be a Bat?”
    )
  • blindfolded experience in the forest, trippy AF
In the middle of a forest, things get surreal. An old beekeeper’s trailer touched by the “New Experimentalism”.

Tastes

Sharing creation and creativity

In most settings, (rightfully or not) I feel that I am one of the most creative and accomplished participants. Here… well, I felt humbled. It gave me some sense of unease… but then, it turned into appreciation and gratitude.

In the dark, among fog and sparks.

Love of missing out

A trip to regain one’s words. Jars with word-fruits were on a tree, on a small swamp-island. Voices from the crowd sounded like cartoonish Minions.

The introverts that flourish

There were burning man-style extraverts. When I saw them I understood the no-drug policy. Such types, who want to interact often (and in an expressive way) are surely super-interrupting when high and want to join all activities.

Our meals were not only meals. Photos by Juli Sikorska.

Cloak & dagger creativity

Most of the experiences (especially not workshop-style) work the best when
there is an element of surprise. Since we organized things on the spot, in impromptu squads, conspiring with co-creators. Gathering new creators, people knowing something-but-not all, and people being purposefully unaware, yet — sensing that there is something going on.

Afterglow

It took me 2–3 days to decompress. I felt sadness and emptiness. Partly because it was over, and I started missing people. Mostly, I guess, because of an expected “neurotransmitter depletion” I consistently get after long, intense experiences.

What’s next?

Piotr Migdał

Written by

Data scientist with PhD in quantum physics. Writes about machine learning and dating https://p.migdal.pl. Develops Quantum Game with Photons.