Lee Hawkins and Blair Imani

August 28, 2020

11am Virtual

This event is part of a new series presented by Second Home and Berggruen Institute – public events that bring together the most inspiring and celebrated figures of our time to exchange and discuss groundbreaking cultural, social and political ideas.

Join award-winning Wall Street Journal writer Lee Hawkins and acclaimed historian and activist Blair Imani for a free online discussion about civil rights in America – focused on the momentous date of August 28.

August 28 is one of those dates that resonates throughout black history – events that have taken place on this day include:

• 1833: Slavery was abolished in the UK
• 1955: Emmet Till was brutally murdered by two white men
• 1963: Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic I Have A Dream Speech
• 1975: Tuskegee Syphilis Study Lawsuit concluded a $9m settlement for the victims
• 2005: Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans
• 2008: Barack Obama accepted the democratic nomination for president
• 2016: 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem

In conversation with Second Home and Edward Roussel both will explore, in different ways, the impact of these events on the black civil rights movement and how the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have spurred activism across America, and many other parts of the world.


Lee Hawkins
Award-winning WSJ journalist Lee Hawkins is currently writing about the significant social changes underway in America.

Lee is also the author of the forthcoming book Nobody’s Slave: How Uncovering My Family’s History Set Me Free (HarperCollins, 2021). A genealogical investigation of lethal racial violence visited on one family over successive generations and the intergenerational trauma suffered by the survivors.

Blair Imani
Critically acclaimed historian, outspoken advocate and activist Blair Imani has built a strong online platform about injustices in Black, Queer, and Muslim communities.

Blair’s recent book published earlier this year Making Our Way Home is a powerful illustrated history of the Great Migration and its sweeping impact on Black and American culture, from Reconstruction to the rise of hip-hop. Blair explores issues like voting rights, domestic terrorism, discrimination, and segregation alongside the flourishing of arts and culture, activism, and civil rights.


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