Multispecies Constitution Project:
Meeting 1

March 16, 2023

10am Los Angeles, CA

About the Event:
Multispecies Constitution Project: Meeting 1 will be a two-day event consisting of workshops, breakout sessions, art exhibitions, and more, serving as the kick-off meeting for the two-year-long Multispecies Constitution (MC) Project. A detailed event agenda will be circulated among attendees in the weeks leading up to the event.

About the Project:
The MC Project is a two-year collaboration between the Planetary Governance and Future Humans Programs at the Berggruen Institute. This project aims to facilitate the production of new values centered on multispecies mutualism rather than human exceptionalism, and collective intelligences rather than individualized human knowledge.

Every six months, the MC Project will convene communities of knowledge-makers often siloed from each other — philosophers, constitutional scholars, and scientists — who, through a series of sustained conversations around commissioned position papers, will draft a new kind of document: a Multispecies Constitution (MC). The Constitution will reflect the state-of-the-art knowledge on more-than-human ways of being, the design of inclusive and effective political institutions, and methods for listening to and translating more-than-human voices.

In total, a series of four working groups will be convened during the Project. During these convenings, we want participants to get concrete by actually answering questions such as:

How could a political body represent the biosphere?

What sorts of institutions could speak with — rather than for — the trees, the whales, the microbes, and the diverse humans of this planet?

As we cogitate on issues of rights and representation of species (or ecological collections of species), we might also think beyond our current moment. Given the variety of life forms’ lifetimes, how can we scale planetary institutions toward expansive temporalities of the future?

Staging a wholly new system of multispecies governance built upon planetary, rather than anthropocentric, principles is difficult — even controversial — but is precisely the aim of the project. We aim to spark acts of radical imagination that will culminate in the Constitution. We will move beyond rights, law, and courts as the central fora for multispecies political encounters and consider the question of multispecies representative political institutions.

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.