Alter-Eco: Alternate Economies & Ecologies

We examine the state of the art in contemporary finance and computational capitalism and consider alternative economies-ecologies.  We pursue an intense, multifaceted examination of contemporary developments in finance and economy realizing that to adequately think and prototype alternative economic structures demands thinking and prototyping also alternative ecologies.   Thinking ecologically necessarily leads us to non-anthropocentric design and cosmo-political inquiry.


We discover ways to prototype, experience, and assess alternative economies and ecologies.

Thermal Economies, Garrett L. Johnson

Field-based Lightgames, Garrett L Johnson, Connor Rawls, Andrew Robinson, Sha Xin Wei


10-12 October 2019: Alter-Eco: Alternate Economies-Ecologies Colloquium, Malta

Chris Fynsk, Sha Xin Wei, The European Graduate School, and Synthesis@ASU co-convened a public event at the Fort St. Elmo in Valletta with distinguished participants from around the world with significant expertise in the areas central to the topic: cryptocurrency, blockchain, and new technologies of finance and governance.   With Niklas Damiris, Gary Dirks, Erik Bordeleau, Ken Cuckier, Natalie Smolenski,  Alter-Eco Seminar students: Andrea Campaña, Marcela Contreras, Benjamin Craig, Patrick Gonzales, Lynora Lawless, Anna Marie Rockwell, Bittnarie Shin, Eric Subido, Anthony Tran, Beau-Caprice Vetch, Elise Zender.

14 February 2019: Synthesis & PHuN, ASU

Niklas Damiris

Insights from quantum physics and finance for alternate economies- ecologies

How can insights from quantum physics refresh our approach to our profoundly intertwined ecological / economic challenges?  I argue that the quantum appears weird only because we interpret it through entrenched cybernetic categories like ‘information’, ‘feedback’, ‘observation’, and ‘data-base’, which become problematic in a world characterized by indeterminacy, negative probabilities, non-locality and measurement effects.

Furthermore, this world is not confined to the small as is often claimed.


4 June 2018: Alter-economies | Alter-ecologies, Milieux Institute, Concordia University, Montreal

Convened by Sha Xin Wei (Synthesis ASU) and Erin Manning (Senselab Concordia), with Niklas Damiris, (Providence), Brian Massumi (Senselab; U de Montreal), David Morris (Philosophy, Concordia ), Garrett L. Johnson (Media Arts and Sciences PhD, AME; Synthesis, ASU).

Since 2008, Niklas Damiris’ decades-long work on alternative economies and radical construals of money has become urgently topical, especially in the shadow of the the gig economy coming home to roost in the Americas, and the showdown between Greece and European finance.  Damiris introduced all the core issues together that matter: monetary economy, leverage, derivatives, ecology, value, critique a la Marx of blockchain, and last but not least a quantum approach to finance.

Cryptocurrencies may be more symptom than solution, and in fact encode many pathological meta-physics as David Morris and Sha Xin Wei have pointed out, but they have foregrounded once arcane concerns.  Not coincidentally, TML’s and Senselab’s forays into forging alternative economies that could sustain experimental lives have also led to these concerns.   This workshop considered some of the heart of the technologies of lived abstractions (borrowing from Massumi and Manning), that could trellis (borrowing from Sha) alternative eco-ecologies (borrowing from Damiris).   As Deleuze and Guattari pointed out, the problem with some abstractions is not that they are abstract, but that they are not abstract enough.   Such may be in our case: carbon trading, intellectual property, deep neural networks, and blockchain.

Reference includes a New Inquiry interview with Manning and Massumi about the 3Ecologies Institute (, in particular Massumi’s “99 Theses: on the revaluation of value.”