by Ron Broglio, Field Marshal of the Animal Revolution


Phoenix, Arizona
33°25'01.2“N 111°55'46.9”W
A twenty-minute walk south from the Salt River, the spine of Phoenix
45ºC, 113ºF, Humidity 7% on the advent of autumn equinox


Phoenix could be just another sprawling metropolis except for the palpable imperative of the ecological surrounds which call to us through inhuman modalities. The desert is filled with visible and persistent reminders of deep time beyond human fathoming — the 1,800 million year old Vishnu basement rock of the Elves Chasm Gneiss at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, for example. This Precambrian “Zoroaster Plutonic Complex” is a marker of a long now that enfolds us. Far above, on wide open plateaus, the sky opens as a field of uninterrupted color blue. The scale of its unstructured blueness is hallucinatory. So far beyond anything the human eyes can take in that it leads to perceptual deprivation, the Ganzfeld effect. Between earth and sky grows unique desert flora —the alien antenna-like structures of tubular saguaro cacti reaching towards the heavens as if sending interterrestrial signals.

To help translate the ecological imperative of desert ecology, my comrades and I called upon our nomadic companions Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney of FoAM. Their exercises in non-normative hermeneutics would provide the needed apparatus.

Over two years with multiple site visits we plotted and labored. We set out into the wilds where many a failed utopia bore witness to architectures for understanding that had collapsed under the weight of their own transcendental significance. We would come to terms with the current (unspoken) cultural and ecological worldviews that inhibited messages from the desert and find ways to hack them and open portals for desert attunement. We sketched ways of possible understanding and drew schema across vast walls only to redraw them like a palimpsest of collective Dionysian vision. We constructed devices for hearing the desert and translated its signals as artistic experiments. A soundwalk, an acoustic ecology, a workshop, a seasonal ritual. Traces of these experiences continue to linger on paper, on vinyl, and within the participants. With all of its diverse manifestations, Dust and Shadow is an open invitation for you to bend your sensibilities to the otherworldly world. An invitation to dwell for a while in the desert.

In these fieldnotes, Maja and Nik give us an explorer’s log that reframes the urban and wilderness of the desert. We are grateful for their alchemical work that opens the doors of perception to the unacknowledged presences with which we share the world.