Workshop and Discussion on Children of a Modest Star: Governing in the Planetary Age

December 3, 2021

12pm Virtual

Location: Virtual

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From pandemic management to climate change, the nation-state is ill-equipped to manage the underlying causes of planetary-scale disruptions and the consequences for local communities. This failure of states to govern effectively in turn produces a crisis of legitimacy. Solving these twin crises requires a fundamental reimagining and restructuring of our governing institutions. In this talk we will argue for allocating governance authority to the smallest scale institutions that can effectively manage a challenge so that local issues are addressed by local institutions and planet-wide issues are addressed by planetary institutions. Drawing on the number of disciplines, we call this new governance architecture planetary subsidiarity, and suggest how it could help resolve numerous planetary challenges.

The event is co-sponsored by the USC Center on Science, Technology, and Public Life, the Berggruen Institute, the USC Spatial Sciences Institute, USC Department of History, and the USC Spatial History Research Group.

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.