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Geeks Emerge From the Lab for a Picnic

What started as a specialized event for IT experts has turned into a celebration of high tech for the whole family.

Published: July 31, 2013 (Issue # 1771)



  • Kids are welcomed to the world of innovation by familiar friends.
    Photo: for SPT

  • Art finds a place at the high-tech table with sculptures made of cast-off parts.
    Photo: for SPT

The citys biggest open-air celebration of technology, science and art, Geek Picnic, will take place at the Central Park of Culture and Recreation on Yelagin Island this weekend for the third time. Lectures and master classes led by leading Russian and foreign scientists, interactive laboratories and a showcase of the latest scientific developments will all be part of the festivities.

We didnt base our plans for the festival on others experiences. We just started to do what we were interested in, based on our understanding of what is important, interesting, and still needs to be explained to most people. It turned out that it is the science that determines the changes, the technology that defines them and the art that reflects these ongoing changes, explained Nikolay Goreliy, one of the organizers of Geek Picnic.

The lecture program is expected to be extremely rich in terms of topics. Among the lecturers on the technology side are cosmonauts Sergey and Alexander Volkov; Nigel Ackland, the first man to benefit from bionic hand technology; and Andrey Terekhov, the CEO of one of Russias largest IT companies, Lanit-Terkom. Ukrainian journalist, political pundit and game show champion Anatoly Wasserman, psychologist Victor Petrenko and others will lead the discussions on science. The art program will bring together such great names as historian Lev Lurie, film director Alexander Sokurov, program director of Erarta modern art museum Pavel Markaytis and the voice of the Russian version of the American TV show Big Bang Theory, Kourage Bombey.

The festival will be organized around five thematic zones: Technology, Science, Art, Expo and Picnic.

The technology space will showcase the latest developments that will soon become part of our ordinary lives, among which are anthropomorphic robots, 3D printers and new mobile apps. A programming contest in real time, Hackathon, will be of interest to professionals in the field, while amateur technology lovers will certainly be intrigued by the first quadrocopter-building competition in Russia.

Those interested in the role of science in the modern world and issues of its theory and practice in Russia and abroad should head over to the science space. An assortment of traditional and unusual scientific instruments will be on display, including a Tesla Coil Harp, an astronomical observatory with telescopes and solar filters and a biology laboratory with modern microscopes. Under discussion will be the experience of the science museum Labirintum, where visitors can touch the objects on exhibit.

Pop art and installations, and the use of modern technologies in creative projects are the focus of the art zone at Geek Picnic. An exhibition of pixel art and a HelloTube installation about communication in the modern world will be among the works shown, as well as large-scale mechanical installations by Alexander Gretsoy, an artist who attempts to prove that robots can be art. More than 40 creative master classes will be held there during the weekend.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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