Abstract view of CPU Heat Sink

“I think this is what consciousness is,” said Hartmut Neven, head of quantum computing at Google, at a Berggruen salon in early 2020. “How it feels to select one configuration out of the myriad configurations that quantum mechanics tells us are there.”

In other words: many versions of reality exist at the same time. The act of being conscious is to select one and live it out in the world.  

Berggruen Fellow Tenzin Priyadarshi – a very different kind of consciousness expert – echoes this perspective in his 2019 book, Running Toward Mystery. “Deep in the heart of Buddhist philosophy, at its most rational, is the premise that the reality we encounter in our day-to-day lives is less solid than it appears, and that it is constructed with our participation.” 

From one side, physics; from the other, philosophy and faith: look deeply enough, and you’ll see the foundations of reality are not permanent or stable, whether in the world or in our heads. What possibilities rise from embracing this uncertainty: for our minds, our bodies, our institutions, our societies?

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

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