Wednesday, December 19, 2012

philosoprops & ontological apparatus at gasser-grunert gallery


Philosoprops & Ontological Apparatus
from the Center for the Obvious
& (Im)Permacultural Research
by Alyce Santoro,
Delicate Empiricist

All Are Invited to Join the Center for the Obvious & (Im)Permacultural Research, a Semi-Ephemeral Anti-Institution Dedicated to Reverence of Phenomena and Non-Phenomena. Associated Artifacts & Happenings at Gasser-Grunert, 524 W 19th St., New York, NY from January 10th through February 16th, 2013.

On January 10 from 6pm – 8pm Please Gather With Klemens Gasser, Tanja Grunert, and Alyce Santoro (Delicate Empiricist) for the Hoisting of a Sonorous Sail, Woven from Cassette Tape Recorded with Samples Collected On and Under the Streets of New York City.  


The Homeopathic Remedies for the 5 Ills of Society – based on the premise that like cures like, tinctures to counter VIOLENCE, DETACHMENT, CONSUMERISM, ALIENATION, and GREED were made from dilute solutions of bullet, glue, water from Wal-Mart, emptiness, and money, respectively.

The Upside-down LIFE – silkscreened on newsprint, this enlarged version of the LIFE magazine logo is intended as street art, to be applied upside-down. In a topsy-turvy world, making things right begins with a mental shift.

Goethe’s Game – delicate pieces exist within a closed system, each entity acting on others regardless of physical proximity. Based on 1970’s toy “Booby Trap” and quotes by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "If you would seek comfort in the whole, you must learn to discover the whole in the smallest part," and Buckminster Fuller, “The entire universe is in tension.”

Assorted wearable apparatus, including a Satellite Dish Hat, a Copper Listening Pillow, and Sonorous Superhero Suits made of fabric woven from cassette tape.

CHOOSE DETERMINISM – Research-in-progress into a “grand unification theory” for philosophy: can free will and determinism operate simultaneously, as do the paradoxical laws of classical and quantum physics?

Dialectic Revival ­­– Ongoing collaborative inquiry and improvisation. TBA.

The CFTO/IPR encourages exploration into Joseph Beuys’ postulate, “Before considering the question WHAT CAN WE DO we have to look into the question HOW MUST WE THINK?”

Our inquiries lead to the generation and collection of philosoprops, catalysts for open-ended discussion around a range of social, scientific, and philosophical concepts. In order to effectively communicate about these themes we are working to revive dialectic, an earnest form of information-pooling that acknowledges and embraces paradox, nuance, flux, and interrelationship.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe referred to research based on intuition and empathy derived from prolonged observation as “delicate empiricism”. With a background in science and scientific illustration, CFTO/IPR agent Alyce Santoro uses a delicate empiricist approach to the development of conceptual movements and multimedia catalysts for dialog and social engagement that challenge notions of separateness between seemingly disparate entities.

Santoro is the inventor of Sonic Fabric, an audible textile woven from recorded audiocassette tape, and has initiated several experimental social action campaigns including the Synergetic Omni-Solution, the Dialectic Revival, OCCUPY EVERYWHERE, the USE HALF NOW Campaign, and Collective Democracy. She is a frequent contributor to, where she writes about the social construction of human relationship with the biosphere. She moved from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook seven years ago to experiment with appropriate technologies (including permaculture, rainwater harvesting, small-scale solar, etc.) in the Big Bend region of far west Texas, 90 miles from the Mexican border.

For more information please contact:
phone: 646-944-6197

Sunday, November 11, 2012

the structure of a philosophical revolution

Dear All, I’ve recently returned from an inspiring and intense month in the northeast, where I left my heart with friends, family, and everyone who is recovering in the devastating wake of Hurricane Sandy.
During the month of October, as a result of my constructive critiques of Bill McKibben’s article on climate change’s terrifying math, I was invited by and Blue Mountain Center to spend two weeks cloistered away in upstate New York with 20 other socially/ecologically focused artists/activists. Together we discussed messaging and strategy, shared information and skills, and imbibed the restorative qualities of BMC, brilliant company, and the splendor of autumn in the Adirondacks.
For me the experience was both affirming and unsettling. It was a privilege to have the opportunity to share ideas with a group of people all working in different ways to foster a culture with a set of new “normals”, a culture within which it usual to think and act with reverence and concern for one another and the world at large, to listen deeply without judgment, to work collaboratively without hierarchy or competition. During the residency I had planned to work on the Dialectic Revival, a paradox- and nuance-embracing dialog project…but it was entirely unnecessary, since every conversation unfolded in precisely the way I’d been imagining. We discussed our simultaneous senses of hope and hopelessness, the balance between independence and interdependence, art and activism. Together, for 17 days, we lived in the changed world we wish to see. Staving off overwhelm at how to best deliver a similar sense of creative cooperation to a wider audience with limited support from established systems was a collective challenge.
It became more obvious than ever to me that we are in the midst of a cultural paradigm shift unlike any since the 16th century move away from the geocentric model of the universe – there are those who already have a visceral understanding of humanity’s ultimate interconnectedness with the biosphere, and those who are fiercely resisting.  I expound upon this idea further in my latest article Structure of a Philosophical Revolution.
Another profound tidbit reinforced by the BMC experience is that often the most potent illumination devices contain humor (sometimes referred to as “tactical frivolity”), ritual, &/or abstraction. As in sailing, the most direct route is not always the most efficient. Herein lies the socially transformative potential of art. Bill McKibben is inviting us to “do the math”, to understand fully the dire state of Earth’s ecology from a rational, scientific standpoint. In addition, artists can help us to feel the math, to bring meaning and purpose to existences that have been devoid of these vital things since the dawn of the scientific age, when we began to value tangibles over intangibles.
My experiences during the last half of this year (attending the Marfa Dialogs on the Politics and Culture of Climate and Sustainability and participating in ISEA2012, in addition to the focus residency at BMC) have increased my resolve to continue exploring a “middle way”, a separate discipline that Goethe referred to as “delicate empiricism”. I look forward to sharing my research with you.
I leave you with a song taught to the BMC group by a fellow resident, the stunning singer-songwriter Anais Michell:

We Are Going
Heaven Knows Where We Are Going
We’ll Know We're There

We Will Get There
Heaven Knows How We Will Get There
We Know We Will

It Will Be Hard We Know
And The Road Will Be Muddy And Rough
But We'll Get There
Heaven Knows How We Will Get There
We Know We Will

We Are Going
Heaven Knows Where We Are Going
We Will Know We're There

Thank you BMC,, and dear generous friends without whose support this experience would not have been possible. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

studio news: ISEA2012 and new articles at

Dear All, I hope your summer has been replete with meteors, ice pops, and other seasonal delights! Those in or near Albuquerque, I hope to see you at The International Symposium on Electronic Art 2012 where, after more than a decade of existence in only partial form (as a book that can be folded into a box) The Universal Raisin Cake Theory will at long last make its debut as the multi-part installation it was intended to be, complete with giant raisin-galaxies that guests to 516 Arts will be invited to lounge upon while contemplating the text and having a bite of Universal Raisin Cake. The opening is September 20 from 6 to 8pm. Also as part of ISEA, I'm looking forward to doing some field recording/sound-collage-making workshops with high school students.

As the state of our world becomes increasingly tenuous, I find my roots in science playing a more overt roll in my work. I've recently written two pieces (both published in Truth-out) in response to Bill McKibben's feature in Rolling Stone titled "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math"; as dramatic and ubiquitous as the data on our changing environment may be, it is proving difficult to use it to discern what tangible actions we can take to address the problems. I've written this 2-part series in the interest of shifting from fear to action:

"We Have Met the Environment, and it is Us"
"The Multifold Resistance: An Invitation" (or "How to Break Up With Big Oil: a Complex Relationship")

As a result of these two pieces (and the ongoing Synergetic Omni-Solution project in general), I am honored and delighted to have been invited by and Blue Mountain Center to attend a focus residency during the month of October in upstate New York for artists working to communicate about our planet's delicate ecology.

A third piece, also published this week in Truth-out, serves as an introduction to both the and Dialectic Revival projects: What Does Collective Democracy Look Like? It's Up to Us

As excited as I am about all of these things, none are particularly lucrative. In an effort to generate funds I have opened an on-line PHILOSOPROP SHOP stocked with a range of philosophical sundries & supplies, including sonic fabric accessories and yardage. There's also a DONATE button for those not currently in need of philosoprops, but who feel compelled to support the ongoing work of the Center for the Obvious & (Im)Permacultural Research nonetheless.

Ever-Grateful for Your Support,

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

the multifold resistance: an invitation

Today my article "The Multifold Resistance: an Invitation" was cross-posted from the Synergetic Omni-Solution blog to Truthout. They've changed the title to "How to Break Up with the Oil Industry: a Complex Relationship". Once we understand our relationship to the issues, we can begin to take practical steps to begin addressing them.

Monday, July 23, 2012

we have met the environment, and it is us

william blake's "newton"
my latest article "we have met the environment and it is us" – a (hopefully) constructive critique of "climate change's terrifying math" by bill mckibben in rolling stone – was published today in truthout. i hope you'll give it a read and let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

SLOW NUMBERS opening at SHOW ROOM in nyc, sun june 10

hope you can join me for the opening of SLOW NUMBERS at SHOW ROOM, 170 suffolk street on the lower east side of manhattan, sunday june 10 from 6 to 8pm. i'll be showing a 24' scroll made of sonic fabric.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

the visible, the invisible, and the indivisible

(cross-posted from my other blog, the synergetic omni-solution)

Prevailing thought is like prevailing wind; it requires less effort to allow oneself to be carried along than to set a course that goes against it. Also like wind, thought is often presumed to be invisible. But one can quite easily learn to observe the effects of both on tangible objects, and thereby gain the ability to harness the power of either.

The first lesson in sailing usually occurs on the shoreline. Students are invited to determine from which direction the wind is blowing by looking for clues: flags, trees, boats at anchor, the feel of the breeze on one’s own skin, and through careful observation of subtle variations in the texture of wavelets on the surface of the water itself.

In order to see thought, one only needs to look around oneself. The urge to connect turns into telephones, televisions, and the internet. The inclination to travel manifests as cars, ships, planes, and trains. The need for social organization is revealed in our political systems. And so forth and so on…

But what is a thought, exactly? An electrochemical impulse? Does it require an embodied agent, or is it possible that ambient electrochemical forces cause matter to coalesce into particular patterns and configurations, resulting in the infinite variety of artifacts we find ourselves among? Needs, longings, and desires arrive with the distinct sensation that they are ours alone – but couldn’t the existence of a tree be the outward expression of a fundamental “need” in the universe for an efficient, multifunctional carbon dioxide processing unit?

Sophisticated new investigative apparatus developed around the 17th century in the form of telescopes and microscopes suggested to their human operators that the world around us could be broken down into parts, and that we ourselves are unique entities that are distinctly separated from the environment in which we find ourselves. Galileo declared “Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.”  That which could not be made measureable was granted an air of dubiousness, if not eliminated outright.

The scientific method (i.e.: formulate a hypothesis, design and implement an experiment, analyze the result, repeat), however useful it may be for technical applications, was never really intended as an all-purpose standard to which social and philosophical principles should also be applied. Just because we cannot measure intuition, love, compassion, grief, or inspiration certainly does not mean that these things do not exist, or that they are somehow inferior to that which is tangible. Over the course of the past 400 years as human culture has become increasingly industrialized, we have also become more compartmentalized. As we’ve come to put less value on the immeasurable, we’ve rationalized ourselves into a state of intolerance of the nuanced, the complex, the seemingly paradoxical. Things that could be taken as two sides of the same coin are instead viewed as diametrically opposed: art vs. science, religion vs. reason, classical vs. quantum physics; determinism vs. free will; left (hemisphere of the brain or political party) vs. right.

Ironically, at the same time that scientific rationalism has come to dominate prevailing thought, science itself has taken a turn towards subtlety. With advances in quantum theory, we are moving into a strange new domain where things do not function according to the orderly and predictable rules that we have come to rely upon. Tests with subatomic particles are not only practically unrepeatable; they reveal that the very nature of our experiments makes objective observation impossible.

Fortunately there are many other ways to collect and interpret information about our reality. The ability to hold several seemingly contradictory views simultaneously, the willingness to cultivate, explore, and trust subtle sensory signals, the boldness and endurance required to set a course that defies the dominant paradigm – this is the domain of certain artists, poets, musicians, shamans, ecologists, permaculturists, philosophers, and others adept at seeing and feeling connections to the obscured dimensions and forces of nature that others neglect to notice.

Throughout history visionary practitioners from every field of human knowledge have felt compelled to share their particular mode of data processing. A few notable examples might include musician John Coltrane, conceptual artist/social-environmental activist Joseph Beuys, quantum physicist/philosopher David Bohm, writer/scientist Wolfgang Von Goethe, physician/natural scientist Hans Jenny, spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, inventor/futurist Buckminster Fuller, and poet Allen Ginsberg. Through their work, each of these individuals has given form to the otherwise invisible/inaudible. The products of their inspiration resonate in those who experience them – our senses know them to be true without analytical proof.

Goethe called investigation that involves a kind of connectedness to and empathic understanding of a subject delicate empiricism. Beuys believed that by becoming more attuned to the subtle forces of the ecosystems we inhabit we can rediscover innate aptitudes that will help us to mend ourselves, our communities, and the planet. He believed that it is the job of both shamans and artists to shake people out of ordinary, habitual states of mind and to reawaken latent faculties.

Even slight shifts in individual and collective values and intentions could quickly bring new sets of priorities into the mainstream, radically altering prevailing thought. Like a flock of starlings that moves in an elegant cloud of instinctive, constantly modulating cooperation, changes of mind can have an instantaneous ripple effect across an entire culture. When Beuys said everyone is an artist he implied that each of us is not only capable of accessing the same mysterious, improbable, constantly unfolding, infinitely creative phenomena – we are the phenomena. Each of us is an outcropping, an empathic agent of transformation, wired to receive, process, and transmit.

To hone one’s connection with this font of supreme imagination, Allen Ginsberg prescribed this simple but profound experiment to aspiring creative practitioners: “Notice what you notice.” Like a single pebble out of thousands that catches your glance on the beach, the things you find yourself aware of – and the state of awareness itself – these are the clues. Each of us is a receptor for a different part of the same sublime puzzle. Evidence is everywhere. The investigation never ends.