The worksession Alchorisma took place from 2 till 8 December 2018 at Z33, House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, Belgium. Alchorisma alludes to the relationships between algorithms, charisma, rhythm, alchemy and karma. It looks at integrating cosmogenetic views with the charisma surrounding technology. We looked at ways to infect existing algorithmic models with ideologies that acknowledge the importance of co-existence with non-human entities.



Algorithms have made their way into contemporary society through mathematics and computer science, as sets of rules, behaviours or methods underlying software operations. They have become closely associated with a problem-solving engineering mindset, and more recently with market-driven optimisation, proprietary technologies and morally troubling decision making. However, algorithms extend beyond the man-made world. They are inherent in all matter. Organic and inorganic, microscopic and macroscopic. They can describe generative processes of living things, from the branching of trees and division of cells, to the flows of crowds and fluids.
We rarely see algorithms themselves, as they are embodied in source code, laws of physics or DNA. Yet we’re surrounded by their effects, including the appearance of grown and built structures, the development of individuals and organisations, or algorithmically customised newsfeeds. Tacit and unseen, algorithms often guide our actions. They influence the processes and behaviours of human societies, economies and legal systems. The influence flows in both directions; while algorithms influence us, we are capable of influencing algorithms too. We can exert our agency and change their behaviours and directions. Changing the algorithms of a legal code, for example, can allow rivers, forests and mountains to gain legal rights to be protected from human exploitation (e.g. the recognition of the Whanganui river as a ’person’ in New Zealand or Rights of Nature in Ecuador).
Alchorisma is interested in the possibilities of infecting, contaminating, transforming the algorithmic by other non-exclusively-human visions of the world. Alchorisma proposes to be a common ground from which algorithms can start to overcome the strictly optimizing concepts.


We began approaching non-anthropocentric algorithms by acquainting ourselves with the perspectives of trees, stones and spirits, in the site-specific context of the former beguinage of Z33 and beyond. Each of these entities functioned as an entry-point into a panpsychic worldview: a proposition that all matter possesses an elementary aliveness to which we can relate. Alchorisma aimed to become a collective process of collaboration with the workshop participants, trees, stones and spirits, as envoys or archetypes pointing to changing relationships between humans and the rest of the world.
We asked ourselves what patterns, behaviours and transformations can we discover in dialogue with stones, trees and spirits? Which algorithms underlie their properties, processes and needs? How can we translate these algorithms into human-readable forms? In what way can these algorithmic models become (dis)functional? What can they teach us about life-affirming relationships with not-only-human entities?
After the exploration of species-specific algorithms during the first days, our intention was to collectively compose an algorithmic structure in which these beyond-human models can be combined into a generative ecosystem of sorts; an interconnecting tissue or algorithmic social space. A place where we could collaborate with spirits, stones, trees or any other entities that would join the collective process throughout the week. During the work session we stretched our imagination to jointly develop prototypes, models and concepts of alchorisms – charismatic algorithms.

Alchorisma is developed in collaboration with
FoAM, rybn and Z33, House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, in the context of Z33’s Research Studio Time.

With the support of
Domein Bokrijk & Agentschap voor Natuur & Bos.

With the participation of
Adva Zakai, An Mertens, Anne Adé, Anne-Laure Buisson, Annie Abrahams, Arthur Gouillart, Artyom Kolganov, Axel Meunier, Donatella Portoghese, Erik De Wilde, Femke Snelting, Gaspard Bébié-Valérian, Ils Huyghens, Ingrid Baisier, Isabella Aurora, Jack Boyer, Karin Ulmer, Karin Van Ginneken, Kevin Bartoli, Linda Verplancke, Maeva Borg, Maja Kuzmanovic, Malgorzata Zurada, Marika Dermineur, Marleen Verschueren, Martina Gylsen, Mauro Ricchiuti, Nele De Man, Nik Gaffney, Peter Westenberg, Roberto Simone, Sumugan Sivanesan, Tiina Prittinen, Vesna Manojlovic, Wendy Van Wynsberghe.

Thanks to
Toon Van Daele, Jef Van Meulder, Hans Nickmans, Kathy Melcher, Frank Coppieters, Michèle Meesen.

Reader / texts

Compilation (PDF)
Different contributions


The detailed programme of the week is here
Some of the main moments of the week are described and documented below.

Introduction to the week

Sound part1
Sound part2


Z33 & Studio Time by Ils (audio)

Slides Z33
Slides Studio Time



Shamanic Session

Marleen Verschueren, Linda Verplancke, Karin Van Ginneken, Martina Gylsen, Nele Deman, Erik De Wilde and Ingrid Baisier, a local shamans collective invited the participants to the world of spirits, with a ritual on the first day of the worksession.

Shamanic Session (audio)

Visit the trees in Domein Bokrijk

Domein Bokrijk, a domain in the Northeast of Belgium, was once a tenancy farm that belonged to the abbess of Herckenrode. It used to be mainly heather, peat and farmland. Over the years, it has had many different owners, each of which left their mark in different ways: digging ponds for fish farming, planting woodland or converting heathland into farmland. During the 20th century, an Arboretum was installed as well as a museum for trees and shrubs.
Maja Kuzmanovic & Nik Gaffney (FoAM) asked to collect a small stone, pebble or rock fragment during the visit; to put it in our pocket (or somewhere else on our body) and carry it with us at all times during the worksession, and to notice how our relationship with it changes throughout the week.

Guided tour by Hans Nickmans, Manager of Green Spaces

Hans introduced us to the different types of management that go with the different spaces. For the Arboretum, for example, each species is recorded in a database, from its origin to its moment of death. The forest parts are managed as reserves, nature has its own right, only trees and bushes near the pathways are maintained. In the Open-Air Museum of historical homes, Nick is also working on reintroducing some forgotten varieties of vegetables. The aim of this project is to show the whole evolution of fruits and vegetable growing, based on research using old paintings, descriptions, stories…

Picture of the walk
Arboretum map


We had lunch served by Roberto Simone in the beautiful glass room of Het Groene Huis at the entrance of the Arboretum.

Meeting Trees

Pines, birches, oaks and beeches were welcoming us in the afternoon. After a silent walk each participant was invited to meet a tree. Afterwards the trees were introduced by their friends to the group.


Workshop on stones by FoAM

Maja Kuzmanovic & Nik Gaffney of FoAM explore panpsychism and animism in contemporary techno-materialistic societies. For Alchorisma, FoAM focused on geological substrates of digital technology. From their temporary outpost in Japan, after a Shinto pelgrimage in the Kii-mountains along the Kumano Kodo paths, they invited us for a collective exercise. We worked with attunement as a way to reestablish relationships with geological entities and glacial timescales, to experiment with algorithms to re-confuse binary distinctions between nature and culture, human and non-human, life and death.


More pictures

Workshop on algorithms by rybn

The collective RYBN presented their work ADM XI and Data Ghosts as case studies of integrating non-human entities in the algorithmic world. They also proposed a methodology to collectively establish a common syntax (grammar & graphical forms) for the week.


The International Tribunal of Mother Earth Rights

Karin Ulmer presented her experiences and research on The International Tribunal of Mother Earth Rights is an autonomous judicial institution pursuant to the entry into force of the People’s Convention for the Establishment of the International Tribunal of Mother Earth Rights.
Karin is currently working with, a European development NGO, specialising on EU agricultural and trade policies and global food systems. In this context she has been closely following up on indigenous rights mouvements.
Her overview of recent trends in institutionalizing rights for Mother Earth is a first step to invite Alchorisma into the real world of (EU) politics, economic growth and planetary boundaries. How can Alchorisma work be communicated beyond Constant’s outreach? Can (elements of it) be transposed into ongoing (EU) policy making and processes? What relevance could Alchorism have for the Post-Growth or De-Growth movement?

PPTX file
Appendix (PDF)

Sound : play m4a

Morning practise ‘Talking to the spirits’ by FoAM

Every day we started the program at 10h in the candle lit attic of Z33, sitting on meditation cushions or lying down on yoga mats with soft blankets. There we listened to a daily recording by Maja & Nik. Due to the timezone difference with Kyoto/Japan, they consulted our notes, slides and images while we were asleep.
During the week the morning practise was renamed the Echochamber, as Maya & Nik would pick snippets of sentences and thoughts as a base for a mantra style guided meditation.

Tuesday : Play mp3

Wednesday : Play mp3

Thursday : Play mp3

Friday : Play mp3

Saturday : Play mp3

Download all recordings (zip)
Read the transcriptions of the soundfiles

Film Evening

On Tuesday evening, Z33 organized, in the context of the Alchorisma work session, a screening of two films that focus on the themes of magic and spirituality. The two films show how artists respond, in their own way, to our contemporary interaction with elements from the earth and nature.
FOREST LAW (Ursula Biemann & Paulo Tavares - Ecuador / Switzerland – 2014 - 38 min)
NIGHT SOIL - NOCTURNAL GARDENING (Melanie Bonajo - US/NL - Full HD one-channel color video with sound, 49:47 min. Courtesy of the artist & AKINCI.)

More information on the films


Isabella Aurora and Malgorzata Zurada gave an introduction to the notion of ‘techno-magin’ and ‘technoshamanism’,.

Research Threads

Incantations, Tales, Spells and Remedies for Database Anxieties

with Anne-Laure Buisson, Axel Meunier, Isabella Aurora, Vesna Manojlovic, Sumugan Sivanesan

“A spiral of concerns about representing faithfully or addressing respectfully
the world out there
the world beneath
and the world within.
Knowledge retrieved from the computer.
Database queried to access numbers.
Numbers entered in the database.
Trees identified by numbers.
Labels nailed on trees.”


Spirit essence listening session

with Jack Boyer

The spirit essence listening session is based on photographs that were taken during the trip in the forest. A convolutional neural network trained on these pictures, makes a radiography of a similar but unseen photograph and tries to extract, through many filters, the essence of the spirit as audio sound.


play tree 1
play tree 2


with Tiina Prittinen

The history of Hasselt and its environment is strongly connected to the history of witches. This is readable in names of places, areas and in folkloric stories that we digged up from the local library.
What followed was a walk along the witch history of Hasselt, guided by stones, trees and intuition.

Queer Analytics

with Femke Snelting, Annie Abrahams, Kevin Bartoli, Marika Dermineur, Adva Zakai, Vesna Manojlovic, Anne-Laure Buisson

“Queer analytics invites us to wonder together about the potential of microbial, animal, plant, mineral, cosmological technoscience, to situate ourselves in these mundane and alluring scenes, to consider these labours and imagine a collective life otherwise. It asks us to ponder the possibilities and limitations of informatics and to take seriously the affective forces of nonhuman animals and machines. How might we extend queer theories that concern personal injury into more-than-human ensembles, in order to consider the damages shared by humans and nonhumans? How can we generate ways that take us beyond reparative narratives or benevolent utopianism towards more-than-human life?”

Tree training damage
Database Anxiety

A video conference conversation with Seda Gürses (audio)

Secret Performing algorithm

with Annie Abrahams, Marika Dermineur

During the week an algorithm worked its way through the building, without the intervention of a machine, in a secret performative way. It never made it to the public performance, because it must have suffered from a bug and stopped half way.


3 - 6 - 9

Malgorzata Zurada, Mauro Ricchiuti, An Mertens

In the Bon Bouddhist tradition, the pattern 3-6-9 is considered to be the basis of the primal sounds, that underlie all creations.
The chakra system is composed of 6 ground tones, each is linked to one or two chakras. By using a method of permutations these tones can be unfolded into an infinite healing sound composition.
This thread was a first attempt to combine the theory and sounds in a visual application.

index of doubts
pendulum protocol


Arthur Gouillart, Gaspard Bébié-Valérian, Artyom Kolganov

One of the local stories about witches in Hasselt includes the fish stone.
This was a stone on the market on which the fresh fish was cut in the Middle Ages and its price was defined by the cutter.
The good parts of the fish were sold, the bad parts were thrown on a dirt heap, that was frequently visited by cats, who were also thought of as witches.
This ritual intended to restore the reputation of the witches, by cutting fish on the fish stone in the garden of the City museum, leaving the best parts for the cats.



Spell Generator

Maëva Borg, Isabella Aurora

The Spell Generator allows to create a new language to attract new entities, entities, stuck entities (human or non-human).
The Python script functions as a text generator, using a dictionary of existing spells and recombining them following specific semantic rules.


I lost my training of thought

Adva Zakai, Femke Snelting

"Our bodies will perform a loop.
Sorry. THESE bordies will performe a loop (the bodies we met?)


We begin with training these bodies.
Strectch the right side of the body
stretch the left side of the body
expend the arms,
let energy flow
bring elasticity into the wrists
curve spine
relax before continuing the training

How to train de tree?
Wake up early, together with the sun.
imagine you see the world from the eye of a bird.

Full text


On Friday night 7th December 2018 we witnessed the new moon in Sagittarius. As a way to celebrate the beginning of this new moon cycle, we organised an intimate evening of Rituaction in the attic of Z33.

Here is the full program of the night

Luminescence emision sessions

with Peter Westenberg

Score of the performance
Thanking the stones

Beguinage history

with Ils Huyghens

A history of caring and death in the beguinage, linking back to the place where we are. And some fragments of the story of caretaker Polfliet who was a caretaker in the beguinage from the 1940s untill the 70s. The story comes from the book that we came across from the witches research called ‘Stories of dreams and nostalgia’.


Activities throughout the week
Pictures that were used in the research threads of participants
Alchorisma stitchings of worksession by Peter Westenberg
Alchorisma preparations

Workfiles + local pads

During the week we used a local server running the notetaking software Etherpad. Here you find an overview of the notes that were taken

Terms of use: opening and closing the archive

For Constant worksessions, we developed the Etherbox, a custom local server infrastructure for collaborative situations. Installed locally and accessible only when physically in Z33.

This time the etherbox was installed by Michael Murtaugh in the attic, connected to the switchpanel of the venue:

We discovered a wonderful tool to trace the routing of ethernet cables throughout the building:
Listen to the mp4


License (unless otherwise noticed): Free Arts License