A Berggruen Institute Salon Featuring Manuel Castells

January 31, 2019

6:30pm Los Angeles, CA

Manuel Castells is arguably the world’s most important living sociologist, with broad interests in political economy, urban space, and social movements. An interdisciplinary polymath, he is the author of perhaps the most influential sociological text of the last half-century, his Network Society trilogy, which was published during the 1990s and established the baseline understanding of how the internet was changing everything from industrial organization to the social life of cities to our models of political organization. After beginning his career as a professor in France in the 1960s (where he was famously fired from Paris X Nanterre for his involvement in the May 1968 movement), in 1979 he moved to the University of California, Berkeley where he was a professor of sociology, and professor of city and regional planning. In 2003, he joined the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication, as a professor of communication and the first Wallis Annenberg-endowed Chair of Communication and Technology. Castells is a founding member of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, and a senior member of the diplomacy center’s Faculty Advisory Council; and is a member of the Annenberg Research Network on International Communication. Since 2008 he has been a member of the governing board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including the 2012 Holberg Prize and the 2013 Balzan Prize for Sociology.

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