A Zócalo/Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy Moderated by Kathleen Miles, Executive Editor of Noema Magazine

September 29, 2020

4:30pm Virtual

A Zócalo/Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy Event

Across the world, elite politicians, militaries, and powerful business and political groups appear to have a monopoly on representative democracy. By exploiting the resulting discontent, populists and authoritarians have created an international narrative of democracy in decline. But in many regions and countries, including some ruled by autocrats, citizens are collaborating with local and provincial officials to expand participatory and direct democracy so that residents can make decisions themselves. What is the relationship between the seemingly opposing trends of authoritarian nationalism and stronger local democracy? How are people using participatory tools to change their communities, and the world? And what are the future possibilities and perils of direct citizen decision-making?

Participatory Budget Project executive director Shari Davis, political scientist and Citizenship and Contemporary Direct Democracy author David Altman, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy senior fellow and former Taiwan foreign vice minister Michael Kau, and Mexico City-based youth participation expert and Ollin president Greta Rios visit Zócalo as part of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy to consider how direct and participatory democracy might counter autocracy.

Moderated by Kathleen Miles, Executive Editor, Noema Magazine

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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