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Member Spotlight l Alyce Santoro

Monday, March 27, 2023 8:32 AM | Anonymous


March 27, 2023

This week we recognize  Alyce Santoro, and her twenty-five year practice combining sound, textiles and her coined concept and works known as "philosoprops."

The Homeopathic Remedies for the Five Ills of Society (above) is an ongoing series which began in 2002, presenting elixirs in brown glass medicine bottles with droppers for social ailments based on the premise that “like cures like.” “Violence” was prepared by soaking a bullet in distilled water. “Greed” is an infusion made from coins. “Consumerism” is a dilution of bottled water from Wal-Mart. “Alienation” is empty (in homeopathy, the more diluted the remedy, the more potent it is). “Detachment” contains a drop of super glue many times diluted (this is a “dialectic remedy,” the ailment being countered by its opposite. I wonder if, like especially diluted remedies, paradoxical ones have special potency as well?). Image courtesy Klemens Gasser and Tanja Grunert Gallery 

click images for more info

"With an early background in biology and scientific illustration, I set out with a straightforward goal: to make visible the invisible wonders of science and nature. Shortly, however, upon encountering overlaps and paradoxes inherent in accepted—if sometimes seemingly divergent—approaches to art "versus" science, I became focused on the cultural phenomena that cause these fields to be viewed as separate, and the ways that social imaginaries form and can shift."

"In the 1990s, I coined the word philosoprops to describe multi-media works intended to raise a question, illustrate a concept, catalyze an action, challenge perception, or spark a dialog. Philosoprops offer subtle, often playful critiques of the foibles of highly literal, positivist, hierarchical, anthropocentric, reductionist thinking."

"....Philosophical apparatuses and instruments –philosoprops– are the tools of Alyce’s obvious multiverse. Informed by a love of wisdom and an absurd sense of humor, these material propaganda draw attention to human behaviors and the social, political and environmental ramifications of our beliefs and actions. Alyce’s
instruments broadcast a hopeful message: that changing the world for the better begins the moment we realize it is possible. When we reach out with open arms, an open mind and an open heart, simple actions (like hanging laundry in the sun to dry instead of relying on a machine powered by coal, fracking, or nuclear fission) take on transformative power...." – Eve Andrée Laramée, interdisciplinary artist, ecological activist

TellTale Sails–Score), 2007 (above): "In December of 2012, two months after Hurricane Sandy struck New York City, I was invited to mount an exhibition of the philosoprops at Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert Gallery in the Chelsea district of New York City. The gallery – like many others in the neighborhood – had been completely submerged during the storm and was in the process of being restored. While the gallery owners were appreciators of my philosophy-­based work, for the reopening on January 10, 2013, they felt a particular sense of urgency to exhibit a piece that could offer a sense of resilience, optimism, and cooperation with the elements. They wanted a 21-­‐foot-­‐tall set of Sonic Fabric sails to fill a room that had been flooded under 14 feet of water. On the night of the opening we hoisted the sails, raised a toast to Spaceship Earth, and symbolically broke a bottle of Champaign on the bow of a boat we are all in together."

Santoro's thesis for Rhode Island School of Design's M.A. in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies was completed January 2020. Titled "An Intricate Ensemble: The Art-Science of an Ecological Imaginary for the Anthropocene Epoch"(below), her abstract states: The contradictions inherent in European Enlightenment-based “logics” that externalize humans from “nature” were a concern for the Romantic Naturalists, Dadaists, and Surrealists. More recently, some in the environmental humanities and socio-ecologically-concerned arts and sciences have also posed challenges to anthropocentric, hierarchical, positivist modes of thought. I suggest that by engaging the ludic, imaginative, and collaborative while bearing the empirical in mind, dualisms (such as objective and subjective, individual and collective) dissipate, and existence as a dialectical state of intricate ensemble can be revealed. In light of catastrophic disruption to Earth’s life-sustaining processes by exploitative forms of human activity, I argue an “ecological imaginary” is urgently needed, and everyone is capable of contributing to its prefiguring.

Alyce Santoro  has a background in both marine biology and scientific illustration, and has been exploring the intersection of art and science for over twenty-five years. Widely known as the inventor of Sonic Fabric — an audible textile composed of recorded audiotape — Santoro’s interdisciplinary projects weave together philosophy and physics with ecology and social activism in quirky and provocative ways. Her visual and sound pieces have appeared internationally in over 50 exhibitions related to innovative textiles, experimental musical scores, sound/listening, and the intersection of art, science, and ecology. She has written for Leonardo Music Journal, the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts Journal, Antennae, and Hyperallergic. In 2015, she self-published Philosoprops: A Unified Field Guide, a catalog of her work/exegesis on the ways that thought—and the phenomena that spark it—shapes culture. Santoro holds a B.S. in Marine Biology from Southampton College in Southampton, New York, a Graduate Certificate in Scientific Illustration and an M.A. in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. www.alycesantoro.com

Featured Images (top to bottom): ©Alyce Santoro, Homepathic Remedies for the Five Ills of Society, 2002 - ongoing, photo by Mary Lou Saxon; Subtle Reality Technologies, 2011, photo by Mary Lou Saxon; Amplified Cactus (Improvisation on "Child of Tree" by John Cage), performed September 5, 2012 on the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Cage, Projects for Prepared Ear presented works in honor of the composer at the Marfa book company in Marfa, Texas; TellTale Sails–Score, 2007, suit of Sonic Fabric sails, recorded with the “Sounds of ½ Life” collage, 9 x 9 feet; MA Thesis "An Intricate Ensemble: The Art-Science of an Ecological Imaginary for the Anthropocene Epoch," 2020, photo courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; portrait of the artist, Sea Urchin Spine Headgear, 2004, live action photo by Matthew Magee.

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