A collection of experiments as embodied manifestations of Dust & Shadow propositions.

[T]he importance of propositions is not limited to matters of truth and falsity. Language is used to evoke attention to features of the world that another person may be missing. Perhaps someone wants me to look up at a branch in a nearby tree. She has propositional feelings of a rare bird being there. Her interest may be in my entertaining the same proposition, but the most effective method may be just to point with a certain expression on her face, or to say “look quick” with some excitement. These gestures may lead to the result better than the sober statement that there is a rare bird there. Giorgias Romero

vegetal cabling

Field trip for locals and travellers to experientially attune to the desert environment. Through “durational desert abiding” we'll explore the embodied sense of layered time, observing & listening, material wonder & wander, solitude & (in)difference. (March 7-12 2018)

Questions: What could be the different ways and means to experience layered time in the desert? What if we refrain from speech and use the visceral language of experience? What does “brutal mysticism” in the desert look like?

Proposition: We need to spend time in the desert to experientially attune to the environment. Communing rather than examining. We can attune to the desert without romanticising wilderness or drawing a hard line between the desert and urban civilisation. We tread lightly and see the desert with new eyes.

… do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards. Edward Abbey


A field experiment formed around the question “what would a thalient lab in the desert look like?” (March 12-23 2018)

Proposition: There are ways and means to communicate with entities we share the planet with. At all times there are other beings listening. We can hear each other if we pay attention. One of the means to establish contact could be through technological mediation.

Thalience is an attempt to give the physical world itself a voice so that rather than us asking what reality is, reality itself can tell us. It is the discipline that chooses among multiple successful scientific models based on which ones best satisfy our human, aesthetic/moral/personal needs. In other words, given two or more equally valid models of the universe, thalience is the art of choosing the one with the most human face. It is the recovery of the natural in our understanding of the Natural. (…) thalience would use objective truth as an artistic medium and merge subjectivity and objectivity in a creative activity whose purpose is the re-sanctification of the natural world. To believe in an uplifting and satisfying vision of your place in the universe, and to know that this vision is true (or as true as anything can be) would be sublime. Thalience would be an activity worthy of post-scientific humanity, or our own biological or post-biological successors. Karl Schroeder


Dust & Shadow (sound)walk celebrates the arrival of desert spring in a panpsychic tradition. (March 24 2018)

Question: What arts become possible if we widen the 'sentience spectrum' and emphasize experience and interaction with diverse beings?

Proposition: We need a new form of geomancy to align with the reality of the desert. To better attune to our surroundings we can practice the craft of silence and heterogeneous hearing and become human receptors and listening devices. Deep listening and attunement can help us uncover sacred refugia and wild sanctuaries in urban surroundings of the everyday.

Solvitur ambulando…

This film is a proposition in the full sense that Alfred North Whitehead intended this term. A proposition, for Whitehead, is neither true nor false in itself. It is a lure for feeling the world that “might be.” A proposition is what places a concrescing subject (an occasion of experience) in relation to a potential predicative pattern. It is the potential togetherness of subject and predicate that characterizes a proposition and not its actual exemplification. But propositions do not hang in the thin air of abstraction; they always emerge from somewhere and are entertained by an actual subject within a particular milieu. The proposition’s relevance and importance (or its “truth”—in William James’ sense) is contingent upon the world that it finds itself within. This experimental film fabricates a propositional space in which subjects (Phoenix, urban desert, etc.) are drawn together with predicative patterns (shadow Bellmont, pharmacological uncertainty, communicational indeterminacy, etc.) to lure us into certain modes of attunement. Since the world we inhabit may not yet be ready to entertain such a proposition, we must actively forge the conditions under which it might begin to. Adam Nocek

The ideas for the film have been translated into an audio-visual lecture performance for the launch of the Desert Humantities Institute in the fall of 2019.

Question: How to translate Whitehead's proposition into a generative worldbuilding toolkit?

Proposition: A card game. A workshop to design a deck of cards using the Shadow Belmont scenario as a starting point.

FoAM hosts a workshop to design a deck of cards that can be used to create different propositions - in workshop situations, in classrooms, futures sessions, policy labs, etc.

When: September 26 2019
Where: CPT

Inspirations: The Thing From The Future, Instant Archetypes (pictured).

Instant Archetypes

The seasonal feast for the arrival of desert spring in a parallel shade world, Shadow Belmont. (March 19 2018)

Questions: How to translate animist attitudes into worldviews compatible with contemporary techno-materialist societies? How to (re)animate pre-modern sensibilities without dualisms of light/dark, good/evil, love/power? What would be celebrated in a regenerative eutopia in the desert?

Proposition: It is possible to transform zombie utopias into fertile compost for regenerative eutopias. Myth-making and reactivating myths can animate inert cultural, geological and architectural markers. Conviviality and kinship includes diverse entities and different lenses of interrelation. We can draw inspiration from animism, panpsychism, shinto, shamanism, etc.

Prototype: Equinox eve 2018 (March 19, sunset; Spring Equinox time: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 9:15 am in Sonoran Desert.

In the dry and hot Sonoran desert, spring is a time of replenishment. A time to celebrate blossoming of plants and ideas alike. Days are slowly warming up, heralding the season of flowering cactus and renewed growth. The spring equinox - when light and darkness, the mundane and the sacred are (at least cosmically) equipoised - invokes a sense of balance, alignment and attunement. Time to celebrate the connections with all beings we share this season with…


The feast can include the following elements:

Durational attument through a range of embodied practices

  • Unfolding (meditation on budding, warming, thawing)
  • Long and slow attunement meditations
  • “Passover”
  • from meditative to ecstatic/dionisian attunement (and back again)
  • trance-inducing music, drums, movement, dance
  • participation of human and non-human entities
  • build cairns
  • walk in spirals or through labyrinths (purposeful meandering)


  • new life: leaves, blossoms (some Sonoran desert flora)
  • green, yellow, purple, red colours
  • freshness of spring and bitter energy of new growth
  • purity of white ('sacrificial virgins')
  • waves of pleasantness punctuated with being thrown out of the comfort zone
  • scent: mesquite incense, scents of the desert

Architectural elements

  • layering
  • shade and shadows
  • desert wabi-sabi
  • (cotton) banners or other markers of place
  • scattered long communal tables (with table cloths)
  • stations for food prep
  • rock formations that scatter/focus sunlight

Storytelling, guiding

  • Matriarch (a gentle holding of the space for ceremony)
  • Reading and stories in different voices
  • Symbolism of new myths
  • Attuning harmonics
  • Maps here/there
  • 4Cs of Arizona (new fetishes)

Blessings and offerings

  • economies of exchange, gifts, offerings
  • parting tokens
  • totems, rainsticks

Food & Drink

  • breaking and sharing food together, abundance in collectivity
  • end of winter foods in the desert (to research foods of the place) eg cholla buds, nopalitos, yucca, ocotillo and palo verde flowers (tea) as well as dried/preserved seeds (for eating and planting), herbs, grains and flowers; pinyon pine nuts, chia seeds, amaranth, sumac, sunflower seeds, mesquite flour, agave and aloe vera juice…)
  • water
  • fresh, green, bitter
  • figs, olives, prickly pear, oranges/lemons (? not native but thriving)
  • preserved, dried, smoked, fermented, dessicated
  • lamb or cattle (with consent!)
  • tea from local herbs and medicinal plants
  • mezcal, pulque, tequila…

(The full-scale of this experiment is beyond the scope of this project. It could be produced as an actual feast or a speculative open air museum with stories and artifacts suggesting alternative myths, lifestyles and ecosystems)


  • dust_and_shadow/experiments.txt
  • Last modified: 2019-09-28 04:09
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