Alefa Desenata

An early formulation of a universe of design, Alefa Desenata engaged in the creation of projects, programs and experiences that spanned across disciplines, and that were unified by micro-innovations seeking to bring new experiences of the world to audiences and participants.

Alefa Desenata was first supported and sponsored by Artists Unite and pretty nonchalantly after that was the general container for the conceptualization and implementation of ‘Applied Philosophy’ projects, which were then reconceived as and renamed ‘Experience Design’ projects until somewhere somehow classic designers from the ‘design’ fields coopted the ‘Experience Design’ expression (which I was fine with, seriously–I just do and march on!), and then again reconceived as ‘Unfolding Design’ (yes, I like to constantly rename and carry on!)

Alefa Desenata’s manifesto also has become one of the central manifestos of Sine Res–Design without Objects.


Here’s an early version of the mini manifesto:

Prolegomena to a Theory/Practice of Unfolding Design

Once, so long ago it seems but wasn’t, I was explaining to a young first-grader what our goal was going to be: she looked at me and smiled and even though the ‘curriculum’ called for stating the goal every day and even though this girl who had been behind two grades was now ahead two grades in six months (yes, a four-grade jump, according to the authorities) only because she loved for us to read together and had a ball and it was all just a game, she said, so sweetly and genuinely, ‘what’s a goal?’

A goal, I struggled, is what you set to achieve, a point, a result, a –

What is a goal.



What is the point of all this.

If no objects, then what.

In order to be a true unfolding, can it have a name.

(Not really sure. Then this – maybe. Probably not: three answers, in parentheses, to the preceding questions.)

And keep going: write this: to be a true, real, unfolding, it can’t be a – “thing”.

Then, why is there an “an” before it.

(If it’s not a thing, what the hell is it.)

Not a thing, then an idea, an enlivening, an embodiment, a becoming.

Not an art-project, but an art-ing. An action-ing: of engagements, interactions, creations.

Erect a structure, fashion a context, usher in the universe: within it unfolds all.

Not a philosophy, not a vision, not a work, not.

(Not negation either.)




An evolving field of operations, multiple realms of participation and intervention, universes of provocation and transformation.

Although: is it proper, here, to write full sentences. To put the correct punctuation. A question mark. Periods. Express it all, expose it all, in finitude. In certainty. Or –

Try again:

… an evolving field of operations – … multiple realms of participation – … and intervention – … universes of provocation and transformation – …


(and, long ago again, did I not suggest to a group of teenagers to go ahead and create new punctuation marks, to create a whole new universe, of relating, to the world… and to oneself… and to others… to create a different rhythm, literally, of being… to be, in writing, more accurate, more true, to the vast arena of uncertainties and curiosities, flows and debits, totalities and fragments, pauses and surges, speeds and intensities, finalities – and openings –

and so: try again?

Or, leave the parentheses open – as one should…)


…manifest through theatres of unfoldings: performative interactions, dramatic and physical assemblages, scriptoral inventions –… aphorisms and journals and narratives –… along with the design of frameworks, systems, and non-systems of being, becoming and relating.

Why not: put periods and close and carry on, in certainty. Repeat even, with certainty: evolving field of operations, multiple realms of participation, universes of provocation…

Playful and poetic, these creations unfurl through different modalities and are composed of both ephemeral components as well as lasting constructs and products. They fashion forms of inquiry and knowledge acquisition, manners of relating to oneself, others and the world.

The, what to call them, dappies, dippies, projects… no, stay with alefa, alefa for aesthetic and literary and educational and philosophical adventures, but also: the beginning of things, the first letter of my native tongue in plural: the beginnings: the creations: the launchings of new alphabets of being… yes, the alefa introduce newly designed concepts and visions within their unfolding. At times discreetly discounting, at others aggressively undermining, and always in critical engagement with existing categories, conceptual frameworks, and paradigms, they aspire to fashion new understandings and apprehensions of reality, new relationships to reality, lo, an actual new reality…

As such, they are not (cannot be!) divided by known field (i.e. performance, education), by design type (program, industrial, technological), by quiddity (object, concept, idea), by duration or other time-centric elements (from eternal to ephemeral), by participatory parameters (individual vs. communal creation) because they are constantly intertwining these various networks into new, and nameless (in terms of species), entities.

Practically and concretely, there are no absolute beginnings or ends for any of the alefa. There is no absolute duration. Although some may continue to unfold, others might cease at any time. There are no fundamental attachments to any chronological parameters, although decisions are constantly made as to closures, pauses, and stoppages, new launchings, relaunchings and rejuvenations. Each of the evolving project/adventures is named and allowed to organically grow.

So: what is a goal. Still not sure, but this is a good place to function, to manoeuver, to form and transform: through coherent and innovative manners of rethinking and rearranging the materials, elements and parameters of various forms and fields, and making manifest operations wrought unto the various components of actions and creations, fashion endless and endlessly evolving alefa: a particular species of work, play, and engagement.


I didn’t first conceive it, chat about it, let it be borne, even, experiment, create. It actually just, just – happened? No, not even: it actually, it all, actually, just, unfolded.

Awareness of how it should all occur, because, it is after the –

Baby (my own), birth (mine), is unplanned: beyond: all things.

How to talk about it: how to talk: it.

There isn’t, first, I, then, breathing-I, then living-I, then linguistically-designed-I, there is: air, I-with-lungs-and-I-with-breath-and-I-living: I, an unfolding.

(Does this make sense)

Does it begin, does it end.

Unfoldings: fragments, gathered one day for an Unfoldings Organum – maybe.

(Don’t you have to figure it out, figure it all out now, just like all the other writings and texts – a vision of the whole – or, a vision of the fragments, that then unfold. No: just: plunge into the uncertainty, into curiosity – uncertain when all ends, uncertain why it all began.)

Some might say: organically it all unfolds. Trees, plants, all around us the things, the entities, the lives that grow: untainted, unperturbed – or, actually yes, perturbed. This too, an organ that grows, in multiple directions, with various intensities, different energies and many goals.


Fragments, of this and other worlds.

Fragments of the end of writings, the end of fragments, the end of art, the end of performance, the end of it all – it all, it all, it all, multiplied by infinity: this too, has been written down somewhere before.

What do you do – to an unfolding. How does it come to be, exist: do you make it – allow it – fashion it – spurn it – or:

Maybe you make yourself disappear – or:

Or maybe you make yourself disappear – and it:

Or, maybe, you pull back


An uncategorizable transformative flow that brings textual unfurlings, transaptations, applied philosophical projects and performative gatherings unto the same platform, with each of these enlivenings in their own way growing into different directions. Okay. But…

But: where do they fit: in the scheme of ‘my’ oeuvre… Where do they fit, in the scheme of the idea of an oeuvre.

Questions without marks: that space of uncertainty, that field of action and fabulation without a name: that is maybe where the unfoldings fit: a place, a space of their own becoming (like any artwork then, it seems…)

Somewhere between design and art – and even, ‘literature’. How old though, how painfully cliché even, as of now, this ‘in-between-ness’: amphibian, here-and-there, imaginary homelands… No, beyond all of these now resides another: another reality, another un- : a field of theoretical treatises in fragments, along with their chronicles: in a range of ‘disciplines’, one might say: all given their due in the divisions, all erased as disconnected practices, assembled in a network of elaborations, discussions, divisions, destructions.

Where applied philosophy itself is an unfolding. But the Unfoldings too, are part of the Alefa, formerly known as the Dappas (the Design of Applied Philosophical Projects and Adventures!), formerly known more affectionately as the Dappies. Tourniquet, eternal swing from one to the other: a pendulum that they form, the Alefa and the Unfoldings: why not: why is something one thing and not another: they shift and change, not quite the chameleon, but, something like it: a constant swing between. A constant subjugation of one by the other. I can go on forever saying this, or the others, are not projects – but who would listen, who would want to. They are, and are not, projects – simultaneously!

(Then what are they, the wonderings go, the whispers go, or maybe even not so polite: the collective refrain: what the hell are they: well, they are what they are, a new thing: themselves:

Alefa. Unfoldings.)

(I even wonder, after the conception of the Unfolding as a genuine from of thinking and fashioning reality, will I ever even think in terms of Opus, or oeuvre, not within the Unfolding.)


Not very sure then, at any point, what the divisions are.

Not sure if there should be bullet-points in this text.

Not sure if it’s a list that’s needed, points, dots, quotes, paragraphs.

What occurs within. What happens. The kinds of stuff that it becomes.

Comment and critique of contemporary relationships between lived experience and aesthetic constraints.

Necessity of not knowing when and how and why something begins and ends – or whether that all occurs.

An interrogative, but peaceful (not an annoying delusional-subversive aggression) and gracious and purposeful reworking of concepts and frameworks and foundations and boundaries of fields and disciplines and categories.

Fashioning of modes of becoming, of traversing life (is this corny, mystical…), of awareness of the manners in which one is confounded, bound, by the parameters set, by the language, by the design of all those who had us in their grasps.

Different forms of participation, of definition and of reconfiguration, of life, practice, of theory itself even, and of the selves that are hurled within them. Without any absolutist manner of proceeding.

Uncertainty about its nature (what it is), and its directions (where it goes) and the intensities and the personhoods that inhabit it; that give it ‘corps’, a body.

Allows, welcomes, integrates the unexpected, the quizzical, the crazy that provokes, that makes it quiver, that challenges even its very structure.

Integrates others’ practices – and then it all becomes an unfolding within the organum.

Necessity of feeling oneself as part of a an overall Unfolding: connected to the wind, to the sky, to the trees, to the ants and worms and the giraffes and the rhinos too, and the clouds, and the sea and the river and all that flows, all that flows…

(Maybe I’m doing the wrong thing by ‘thinking about’ the Alefa. By writing the intro text to the Alefa. Theorizing the Alefa. Maybe this, itself, is wrong. Maybe, and so:


(For now…)