Alter-Eco: Alternate Economies & Ecologies

Alter-Eco: Alternate Economies & Ecologies

Alter-Eco is a rigorous, multifaceted investigation of contemporary developments in finance and economy that probes the following questions:

  • How can we coordinate the production, distribution, and consumption of resources on multiple scales without relying on conventional economic relations such as buyer-seller, consumer-producer, creditor-debtor, employer-employee, landlord-tenant, giver-receiver?
  • How can we enter into financial arrangements that are as dynamic as we are—that evolve over time as a function of our lives?
  • Rather than being held in private and issued in bits, how can financial instruments be held in common and issued continuously, under the continuous action of economic actors on a responsive financial infrastructure?

Concerned by climate change, the great thinning of nature, and the Sixth Extinction, we recognize that we cannot think and prototype alternative socio-economic practices in response to the questions above without also thinking and prototyping alternative socio-ecological practices. Indeed, going even further, we affirm the proposition that ecologies precede, exceed, and succeed all economies, and we look to the socio-ecological practices of non-human others for models and points of departure.

This theoretical project is intertwined with practical projects on Prototyping Social Forms.

Research Group Coordinator

Research Projects


Alternate Ecologies Seminars and Studios with syllabi and references.

Alternate Economies Bibliography

Prototyping blog | post to prototyping blog

Email group: stream

Synthesis Prototyping Social Forms stream


Anticipations Conference ASU 2022
PSF Anticipation Workshop Enacting Body

PSF Anticipation Workshop Enacting Process

PSF Anticipation Panel: Un altro mondo è possibile

2020-2022: Alter-Eco / Prototyping Social Forms  / Process Germ Bank Workshops (recordings)

Muindi Fanuel Muindi (Seattle), Teoma Naccarato (Berlin), John MacCallum (Berlin), Dulmini Perera (Weimar), Desiree Foerster (Chicago), Sha Xin Wei, Satinder Gill (Cambridge), Nadia Chaney (Montreal), Oana Suteu Khintirian (Montreal)

+ 2020 participants, including Gabriele Carotti-Sha,  Felix Rebolledo, Garrett L Johnson, Emiddio Vasquez, Erik Bordeleau, + McGill Building21 alumni: alumni: Damian Arteca, Adrita Kahn, Mattt Morvan, Rebecca Brousseau, Anita Parmar, Yves Abanda, Sophie Strassmann, Stanzi Vaubel, Cordelia Dingle…



July – September 2020: Alter-Eco international summer seminar

Sha Xin Wei (Montreal), Muindi Fanuel Muindi (Seattle), Gabriele Carotti-Sha (San Francisco), Erik Bordeleau (Berlin), with Garrett Johnson (Chicago), Satinder Gill (Cambridge), Nadia Chaney (Montreal), Teoma Naccarato (Berlin), John MacCallum (Berlin), Damian Arteca (Montreal), Felix Rebolledo (Porto Alegre), Vangelis Lympouridis (Los Angeles)

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.”

20 November 2010 The Limits of Sustainability

Talk by Niklas Damiris, Concordia University, on Sustainability. Co-sponsored by Topological Media Lab, Design and Computation Arts Infusions Lecture Series, David O’Brien Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, Concordia University. This wide-ranging lecture outlines core issues that remain critical today. If you would like to hear more on all or any one of the issues it raises, please contact Dr. Niklas Damiris directly.


Related Projects

The Sphere

A research-creation project exploring and developing new ecologies of funding for the performing arts. The goal is to redistribute the risks and opportunities of making art by facilitating the creative involvement of invested audiences at different stages of the artistic and curatorial process.
As a collaborative and emergent web 3.0 infrastructure, The Sphere calls for experimentation that challenges the traditional frameworks of cultural production, envisioning a world in which audiences co-own the artworks they love together with the artists, technicians, cultural professionals, collectors and other stakeholders of a given project. This model of collective fractal ownership can allow for new types of production to grow in the near future.

Time Zone Research Lab

A community research lab that uses art-based practices to investigate the nature of time and temporality. These occasions and durational activities took place over 100 Wednesdays in-person in Montreal and online.