Berggruen Institute x CHROMASONIC - Salon Series #2

November 7, 2022

6:30pm Berggruen Institute – Los Angeles, CA

Event Date: Monday, November 7, 2022
Reception & Chromasonic Immersion: 6:30 p.m.
Discussion followed by Q&A: 7:30 p.m.
End Time: 9:00 p.m.
Registration is required; Seating is limited

The event is currently filled.

About the Berggruen Institute x Chromasonic Series

The Berggruen Institute and Chromasonic present our second collaboration: a by-invitation-only Salon in November that will feature a Chromasonic installation at the Bradbury Building. The collaboration highlights how artistic and scientific practices together spark new insights about the shifting concepts of mind and cognition. Such insights prompt how we at the Berggruen Institute are researching new philosophical modes of what we call “the human” and our collective futures.

This Salon invites guests to experience the light and sound installation as a point of departure for a conversation between noted artist and Chromasonic co-founder Johannes Girardoni, leading neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley, and Associate Director of the Future Humans Theme Claire Isabel Webb. In the wide-ranging philosophical discussion, we will think together on how to stretch the potential of the human mind through new modalities of art and science.

About the Speakers

Claire Webb
Claire Isabell Webb, Ph.D is a historian and anthropologist of science and the Associate Director of the Future Humans Theme at the Berggruen Institute. Webb researches the history of the search for life beyond Earth beginning in the late 1950s, and how that quest has shifted the boundaries, conditions, and thresholds of concepts we call liveliness, intelligence, species, and consciousness. Her work asks, how do technologies of perception of the extraterrestrial— space telescopes that by which scientists seek to apprehend biosignatures of exoplanetary atmospheres, radio telescopes that might be tools to detect evidence of alien technology — inflect what it means to be human, on Earth? At the Berggruen Institute, Webb is developing experimental initiatives around the futures of life, mind, and outer space. These initiatives convene philosophers, scientists, and artists to collaborate on projects that tug together current knowledge about life to speculative philosophies of what life will become.

Johannes Girardoni
Johannes Girardoni is an Austrian-American multimedia and installation artist. Girardoni’s work drives an evolution for a new means of perception by fusing human and artificial sensing, creating responsive environments that shift participants’ experience of self in site and space. A central tenet of Girardoni is that supra-sensory conditions, such as making light audible through algorithms, can act as counterpoints to and inform a critical discourse about the influx of mediated realities in modern culture. Girardoni’s work has been shown worldwide, including at the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy; Lévy Gorvy, London; the Ludwig Museum, Germany; The Harvard Art Museum, Cambridge, MA; as well as at TED2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Girardoni has been the subject of features and reviews nationally and internationally, including in The New York Times, The L.A. Times, ArtNews, and Sculpture. Girardoni is the recipient of the 2019 Francis J. Greenburger Award for exceptional merit and contribution to the world of art.

Adam Gazzaley
Adam Gazzaley, M.D., Ph.D. is the David Dolby Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry at the UCSF, and the Founder & Executive Director of Neuroscape at UCSF. Dr. Gazzaley is co-founder of Akili Interactive and JAZZ Venture Partners. He has been a scientific advisor for over a dozen companies, filed multiple patents – notably his invention of the first video game cleared by the FDA, authored over 170 scientific articles and delivered over 700 invited presentations around the world. He wrote and hosted the nationally-televised PBS special “The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley”, and co-authored the 2016 MIT Press book “The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World”, winner of the 2017 PROSE Award. He is the recipient of the 2015 SfN Science Educator Award, the 2020 Global Gaming Citizen Honor and named in Newsweek’s 2021 Inaugural list of America’s Greatest Disruptors.

About Chromasonic

Chromasonic’s three founding artists. From left: Orpheo McCord, Johannes Girardoni and Joel Shearer. Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro

Chromasonic is a collaborative studio and research lab founded by installation and multi-media artist JOHANNES GIRARDONI with sound artists and musicians ORPHEO MCCORD and JOEL SHEARER. Chromasonic creates large-scale, polysensory installations to explore non-ordinary states of consciousness through the development of organic technologies that harmonize light and sound frequencies in immersive communal environments.

Chromasonic installations are synesthetic experiences where participants see sound and hear light. The melding of sensory modalities blurs boundaries between physical and perceived realities, suspending participants in time and space, in-situ, to inspire a radical state of presence.

Fusing science with art in light and sound, the studio embraces an ethical use of technology to integrate natural and artificial cognition. Chromasonic explores the potential of art as a catalyst to harmonize cognitive and somatic states. The networked platforms the studio is working on for the future are intended to benefit the public at large.



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.