Learning From the Landscape

Human development often proceeds through the creed of replacement–erasure. But the world can no longer afford to think so simply and narrowly. Interlocking crises of sustainability, from climate to biodiversity, demand a frame shift towards more symbiotic imaginings, towards building and creation that pay respect to the interconnectedness of the world.

To destroy in the name of creation does not award the creator a blank slate–nothing in this world exists independently of all else. This ethos can be found across the Institute’s work: from Transformations of the Human’s exploration of the blurred line between people and nature, to Geopolitics and Globalization’s conception of planetary politics, to the Future of Capitalism’s pursuit of policies that would wisely repurpose, rather than plunder, declining assets.

And it is with this ethos of integrating old with new, and human with landscape, that renowned landscape urbanist Mia Lehrer joins the Design and Environmental team for the Berggruen Institute’s Scholars’ Campus project. Mia and her team at Studio-MLA, the minds behind the Silver Lake Reservoir Path and Meadow and the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, will work to incorporate climate-resilient and biodiversity-enriching landscaping born of Southern California’s natural chaparral ecosystem.

“We have an opportunity as a city and as a region to do something wonderful with this land while thinking more deeply about our human relationship with nature, individually and collectively,” said Nicolas Berggruen, our Founder and Chairman. “Together, we will help to preserve and protect hundreds of acres of open space while providing increased access to nature for all.”

composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.

RAVE (IRCAM 2021) https://github.com/acids-ircam/RAVE