ISSUE 41 FW22

OUT NOW

KALEIDOSCOPE's new issue 41 (Fall/Winter 2022) launches with a set of six covers, and a revamped look.

KALEIDOSCOPE is a biannual “almanac of contemporary aesthetics,” the meeting place for a global community of creative minds, drawn by an audacious art direction and contributions from visionary artists, writers and image-makers.
The magazine’s experimental approach also expands to our creative projects in print, online and live—as is best exemplified by the programming of Spazio Maiocchi, our home and exhibition space in Milan, and our annual festival MANIFESTO in Paris.

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BIO/VERSE

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A collaborative platform which brings together PUMA with Perks and Mini (PAM), the cult Australian-based clothing label founded by Misha Hollenbach and Shauna Toohey, and the DEEP BioData Platform, run by Clea Irving and James Deutsher, the BIO/VERSE expands on the biodiversity of the wild and vulnerable ecosystem of the Western Brazilian Amazon. But really, what is the BIO/VERSE?

DEEP: The BIO/VERSE is a space for creative and ecological discovery where we can explore cultural narratives while innovating for real-world environmental impact.

MISHA: The BIO/VERSE is alive! We only wanted to work with PUMA if we could do something meaningful and act on a more ambitious project than just a sneaker collab. We saw an opportunity with a major sportswear company, not just to make a colorway for a shoe, but use their power to amplify and support a much bigger idea. To their credit, PUMA immediately supported the idea, and their team has given the project a lot of attention and energy. The BIO/VERSE emerged as an extension of the idea of symbiosis, cooperation, connection, and something that would be created through (not as “a”) collaboration.

DEEP: It’s great to expand the possibility of what a collaboration can be, what its output can be. When Misha and Shauna first called us, their desire was to reimagine what a “sneaker collab” could mean for this time and to explore the notion of delivering real-world impact through a product’s communications function. We took the core tenets of the collection, of PAM’s nuanced approach to diversity, of the two-year commitment PUMA and PAM made to each other, and developed a project which is an ongoing commitment to global biodiversity. Care is always a ton of work!

Some people will look at PUMA’s involvement and think that they’re still part of the problem; some would say that brands and environmentalism are at odds with each other in terms of actually helping the environment. How do you respond to that?

DEEP: Without the vision and commitment from PUMA to support the BIO/VERSE with their cultural and financial capital, this project would not exist. Sustainability is not binary; the transition of individuals, companies, governments, and society to a circular model is major. The sustainability credentials of this collection reflect PUMA’s advances in the supply-chain process; all the apparel in this collection contains at least 20 percent recycled material, and some materials, like the polar fleece and down jacket filling, are 100 percent recycled. PUMA ranked at the top of the 2022 BoF Sustainability Index. So it’s something.
No brand is “sustainable” in the real sense of the word; we know this. This is not a sustainability project. Sustainability is an internal function of a business, and in ten years’ time, it will be very clear which brands have undertaken a serious project of internal transformation and which have been peddling optics in a green-hot market. We like brands who are prepared to ask the right questions. DEEP projects can act in a radical and nimble way, outside of a brand’s supply chain (which can operate like a slow-moving ship). We create real-time environmental action, allowing brands to sow the seeds of change within their organization and inspire their influential global communities.

SHAUNA: It’s natural to want to boil the world down into good and bad—reality is much more complex and dynamic. We try to consider opportunities on their merits: Can we do something useful together, at this time, on this issue, with these resources and with these people, or not? The perfect should never become the enemy of the good. Where we see opportunities to collaborate in a way that can be meaningful—even incrementally—we tend to be open to that.

MISHA: It’s through cooperation that we humans have been able to function and evolve (arguable in which direction!). We are all part of the problem, and we must also all work together to help a solution. In this project, we have been able to use the huge power, funds, and infrastructure of PUMA and steer this stream into a channel much deeper and stronger, towards an idea that is much larger than we could tackle just with PAM. The impact we can have with this collaboration is more effective and immediate than through an independent system. We are so happy that PUMA has agreed to support this project.

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PAM is known as a fashion brand, but the project involves design, sport, fashion, environmentalism, art, and community; is there a hierarchy of these elements?

SHAUNA: We don’t see PAM as a fashion brand—it’s always been about following our interests, which are very broad. PAM’s output has included music, furniture design, film, publishing, happenings, interiors, carpets, food…

MISHA: These are all mediums for the same goal and are all interchangeable. And we don’t live one without any of the others. The language and the message stay the same. Community is the most joyous, and using art or food or music or activity to come together is a universal hope and goal. We have always wanted to do everything with others—it’s way more fun and has greater organic and open potential than a singular vision. PAM was/is a starting point for an ever-expanding universe. About fashion, I’ve always said we make clothes and also all these other things, NOT fashion—or art for that matter—or whatever “categories” people like/need to use. The clothes are a medium for a message, a souvenir of a project, a concept, a way of being and feeling.

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Why are these types of projects important for brands like PUMA to engage in?

DEEP: Ten years ago, very few brands had public-facing social, political, or environmental positions. Today, it’s basically mandatory. We believe these types of projects allow brands to dimensionalize their activities and expand brand territory into direct environmental action in the correct way. It allows them to build authentic connections to the environment from which they can understand and expand their long-term environmental positions. These are apex projects, operating within the frontier of brand storytelling, aligning vision into reality. In parallel with the impact side of the project, DEEP also builds creative campaigns and activations so brands can embed these environmental narratives within their commercial activities, building a culture and energy around environmental representation and action. DEEP projects allow brands to elevate the conversation around the environment in a real and ethical way while producing a hybrid creativity which connects people to nature.

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Your approach to the environment is clear, but how can brands move beyond meaningless signaling and truly develop sustainable practices? And what role can brands have in an environmentally stable future?

SHAUNA: It’s up to every brand and every person to determine their contribution and approach—there’s no template. It just has to be meaningful for that particular business. For PAM, we have made a conscious decision to stay small over our 20+ years. We never sought any external funding, despite a lot of pressure to “scale.” We stick to our guns in practical ways: for example, making small collections, making clothes that are not cheap, celebrating the archive rather than fetishizing the “latest collection,” and constantly looking for ways to re-work old stock into new applications. These are the things that work for us, but it will be different for others.

MISHA: To reiterate DEEP’s comment: this is not a sustainable project. What does “sustainable” mean? To sustain what? Sustain the shit fight we have created? This project is an attempt to engage, connect, and support the environment. On a “biodiversity species” level, we are animals in this ecosystem; we are part of it. We will continue to take, but we must offset the take with a give. And right now, it seems we need to give a lot more than we take. Of course, there is a huge contradiction always, but really anything that we can do no matter how small or big is important right now. We shouldn’t be judging each other or competing, and definitely not just talking but acting. The collection we designed pushed for sustainable materials and practices to make the product, but we have realised that, with PUMA, we can have an even greater impact with the project by diverting funds and energy to act and have impact with partners such as DEEP, Instituto Juruá, etc… The product acts as a messenger, as a souvenir.

Is it imperative to have the support of larger brands?

DEEP: It’s not imperative, but brands can be a great ally in the mission to leverage culture to support the environment. A brand like PUMA with 12 million Instagram followers saying to their community that “biodiversity is important” is not nothing! In addition to cultural brands, we work with private offices, institutions, and brands from the lifestyle and utility space. All have their benefits and challenges.

SHAUNA: It depends on what you’re trying to achieve. We don’t need support from anyone in particular—we’ve deliberately stayed small and totally independent. But we welcome chances to work with others, where we feel we can do something positive together.

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How does the clothing specifically represent the ecological narrative?

MISHA: There have been great advances in the technology as such. The clothing is designed to function both in the elements and in the club. This is not a ground-breaking concept, but one that we (PAM) use in our daily life. We are both in the club and on a ridgeline, and on a good day in both environments. We want to have clothing that functions in both. I always believe in function over fashion, but there’s no reason not to have both. We want to feel good, look good, and move good!

What exactly is the “impact” this platform is creating for this first season of the BIO/VERSE?

DEEP: Through the BIO/VERSE platform, DEEP deploys direct impact funding into global biodiversity hotspots. We have deployed a network of real-time, remote, cloud-based audio sensors in the Amazon rainforest with our impact and technology partners Instituto Juruá and Rainforest Connection (RFCx). These sensors operate remotely via data networks and the cloud to process the complex sonics of the rainforest. Using machine learning in real time, this sonic data gives never-before-seen insights into keystone species, endangered species presence, animal groups and movements, insect density, primate community dynamics, migration patterns, ecosystem change over time, and much more. This data is fed into the scientific community to enhance research, understand ecosystem dynamics, propel and direct protection efforts, and stop illegal activity in the world's most vulnerable ecosystems. This is intimate visionary environmental impact practice.

MISHA: I’d like to point out that this AW22 project is part one of a four-season mission. Each collection, although aesthetically and conceptually different, supports and adds to the BIO/VERSE platform. The four seasons will gather momentum and impact as they roll out and connect, culminating in an entire project that will have a deep and powerful impact. The first season deployed in the Amazon is the first installment or chapter. The rainforest/jungle is not only a geographical but also a metaphorical point of view for this BIO/VERSE project.

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Why was the Brazilian Amazon chosen for this project, and could you describe how the research from the Amazon will be used?

DEEP: When we think of biodiversity, the overwhelming design and fecundity of the Amazon comes to mind immediately. The PAM universe has such an evolved potentiality that it seemed aligned with such a wild place. When we began to conceptualize this project it was a very natural fit. As a result of its remote location and a recent history of community organization—led in a major way by Instituto Juruá—the Juruá River region of the western Brazilian Amazon’s biodiversity remains intact. It’s amazing. Through BioDATA we aim to establish a “biodiversity baseline”—a uniquely full profile of what intact biodiversity in the Amazon looks like. We have deployed live BioDATA sensors at two sites on the Juruá: one in a várzea forest, a seasonal floodplain forest inundated by whitewater rivers that occurs in the Amazon biome, and the other in a dry forest above the high-water line. Having live data of the seasonal transformation of these contrasting ecosystems and pairing these data sets with real-time water-level data provides a unique snapshot into functioning biodiversity. In addition to these live-data sites we are also building much more widespread views of ecosystems using offline acoustic monitoring sensors; they give us a much greater sample range but are for short-term deployments and lack the immediacy of real-time data.

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What are some ways in which you support those local communities in the Amazon?

DEEP: The impact platform we designed in this region has been developed in collaboration with Instituto Juruá—our partner in delivering the fieldwork, research, and community aspects of this project. Instituto Juruá are an environmental organization working in the Amazonian biome, focusing on the core tenets of social, environmental, and economic development projects, specifically along the Juruá River. We worked with Instituto Juruá to deploy DEEP BioDATA sensors, while providing ongoing financial and technical support for their operation, as well as the integration of data findings into global research communities and local development practices.

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For the project, you're bringing in people from a wide array of cultures and places. Do you think that this kind of global cultural approach is at odds with environmentalism, as globalization has led to its destruction?

SHAUNA: No. Understanding among people and building up links across cultures are positive. Education and empathy can be an antidote to a lot of the threats we face.

DEEP: A global cultural approach might be at odds with a conservation-led view of environmentalism—a view which aims to conserve nature as something “over there,” separate from us, as something which isn’t already entirely affected by and affecting the contemporary condition of globalization. A global cultural approach is in line with the cultural and ecological reality we find ourselves in. This approach is important to creating a new way of engaging ecology, one which is relevant for our time and our communities.
DEEP platforms bring together an insanely diverse group of stakeholders to achieve something which would not otherwise have been possible. In the case of the BIO/VERSE, we are talking about punk creatives, data analysts, solar engineers, global sportswear innovators, creative storytelling teams, CGI artists, audio producers, Indigenous communities, writers, curators, conservation organizations, wildlife photographers, and scientists. This is what we mean when we talk about expanding the intersection of culture and ecology: bringing diverse groups of people together to create a deeper understanding of what is important and how we relate to the contemporary condition. What is the alternative? To work on a program which rejects globalization? Which seeks a return to nature? Our brand of ecoterrorism is not that didactic! We develop out tactics within the context we exist, even if our context is at odds with our primordial yearnings for the swamp. The BIO/VERSE is the new swamp!

MISHA: We are all about connection and connecting. Food and art, music and sport; it’s amazing to be connecting science and technology with someone like Varg 2™! Varg himself has sent me a WhatsApp picture of him gathering moss in northern Sweden to feed wild deer. Here we see a techno emo punk graffiti writer connecting with the local hoofed beasts. This is a beautiful picture in my mind (and phone!), but also as a symbol for a coexistence.
Furthermore, Varg has taken the sounds of the rainforest that were recorded by the sensors to make a breakbeat track forming the soundtrack to the first engagement/installment the BIO/VERSE.

What types of technology can be used to help the environment? You speak of radical technology; what tech are you talking about?

DEEP: DEEP develops environmental monitoring platforms, physical sensors, and digital platforms to create intimacy with ecology through data insights and creative storytelling. AirDATA sensors measure localized ambient air quality in real time; BioDATA is interpreted in real time by machine-learning pattern recognition to drive research and policy implementation whilst also being used to make techno; SoilDATA is used for supply-chain monitoring and regeneration, as well as soil testing at bespoke wineries in the Veneto. This approach is radical as it is from the root, hacking frontier technologies and cultural systems in order to better understand our environments at the source, through data, through packets of information which come together to tell stories and reveal the operation of our environments to inform specific outcomes in service of the environment and in service of dissolving the barriers humans have created to the environment.

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What are some ways in which you can expand on the intersection of culture and ecology?

SHAUNA: We’re not interested in definitions or defining anything for others. There’s no one answer or interpretation, and we don’t insist that people see things the way we do. At the end of the day, we’re just trying to bring something positive into the world. If PAM can reach a broader community through this project, and if RFCx and Instituto Juruá can attract new supporters and deliver more benefits to the community in the Juruá and help an incredibly fragile environment, we’re happy. If others can also see the benefits of working with companies like DEEP, we are happy. Big changes come through lots of little ones. We do our work, and how it all develops and where global culture and consciousness goes is something we can only dream about.

DEEP: Misha, can you tell us about your thinking when you called one of your collections NATURE/CULTURE?

MISHA: So the NATURE/CULTURE thing is directly referencing an article from AA Bronson’s FILE magazine from the late 70s/early 80s. It makes so much sense to revisit now, as we have “culture” bursting at the seams. The idea is that in CULTURE you see what you like, and in NATURE you like what you see. Obviously! Nature is wonderful, and culture is so controlled and programmed for “liking.” Right now—and probably in the 1960/70s—there is a great inspiration and yearning for a connection to nature. Great for aspiration. Great for projection. Great for inspiration. Great for colorways and GORPing. Great for images of good-looking people that have been flown onto peaks by helicopter or dropped into intrepid situations. But it feels like we need to actually use “culture” to act with—and for—"Nature.” We as a species have successfully distanced ourselves from the animal kingdom and severed a connection with the rest of nature. Through any human means, culture being one, we need to truly connect back with the idea that we are part of nature. And it is incredible when we do!

DEEP: Yes! Using culture for nature is a great concept. We often thought in a big-time way, that in 500,000,000 years the dominant species on earth will use the materials we are generating through the Anthropocene as “natural” resources. Like, there will be mega-plastic deposits which will form the basis for manufacturing or energy production for an evolved cephalopod civilization.

It seems that as we progress into this century, we’re going to have to change the way we think about the environment, brands, culture, and ecology in general, and one way of doing that (and one of the goals of the project) is to expand the definition of these things: to expand what a brand is, or what ecology is, or what culture is. How do you go about doing that?

MISHA: We can expand and/or we can simplify. I feel like if we think more about the connection to others, to the environment, and we think less about ourselves and our individual goals, we expand and contract at the same time. Yes, we need to expand our views to a very simple one: that we are all in this together. How can we work and live and cooperate and connect with one another and with our environment? The common good, and how to contribute to these questions, should be a simple way forward.

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Do you feel being “environmentally conscious” is a new form of being subcultural and subversive?

DEEP: When H&M places a “Conscious” line on billboards, it becomes hard to say that being “environmentally conscious” is a subcultural or subversive act. However, what DEEP aims to do—and what the BIO/VERSE actions—is a new form of radical ecological engagement that leverages diverse spaces to build meaningful outcomes for the world’s wildest places—for the data scientists using frontier technology and for diverse communities who want to explore the amazing complexities of “being ecological.” There is a long history of subversion through ecological connection. The War of the Maidens, Guerre des demoiselles, was a rebellion that took place in the French department of Ariège from 1829 to 1832. This rebellion was due to the passing, on May 27, 1827, of a new forestry code restricting individual access to the forests. The name “Guerre des demoiselles” comes from the fact that the countrymen disguised themselves as women, with long white shirts or sheep skins, scarves or wigs, and blacked or concealed faces. This disguise was for attacking—mostly at night—large property owners and forest guards. In 1992, the environmental organization Earth First! produced a radical splinter cell, Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Movements radicalized. I think today we see a de-radicalization of the ecological space. Take the example of Captain Paul Watson’s resignation from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on July 27, 2022. Environmental appropriation is a prevalent reality in marketing. If brands are using images of “the environment” in campaigns to tease our reptilian impulse, a greater commitment to action feels mandatory.

MISHA: PROVO, a Dutch counterculture movement from the 1960s, staged antismoking happenings, and, after they won a seat on the Amsterdam City Council, initiated the White Bicycle Plan, which basically (after burning countless cars) made Amsterdam the bicycle-friendly city that it is. They also disarmed the police! Here we see subculture being “environmentally conscious” and, through subversion and action, gaining impactful and environmentally positive developments.

How hopeful are you about the future, and the prospects of such projects as BIO/VERSE?

DEEP: Extreme optimism behind a resting bitch face.

MISHA: Haha! Extreme optimism again, with the “crazy” emoji face and a fire emoji under our butts. Seriously though, we support any “positive” action (and not just marketing slogans) for a more connected and engaged society, with love and care and energy for nature and this planet.