Berggruen Institute Philosophy & Culture Fellows for 2016-17

Berggruen Institute

The Fellowship program of the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center is proud to announce the 2016-2017 cohort. The Berggruen Fellowship program in partnership with Stanford, Harvard, NYU, Peking, Tsinghua, Oxford, and Cambridge Universities supports individuals and teams of researchers who bring insights from the humanities and social science to key intellectual and public issues across cultures.

Topics the 2016-2017 Berggruen fellows will research include:

  • The Individual and the World 
  • The Future of Political Governance
  •  Humans and Technology

The Philosophy and Culture center works to advance understanding of the most basic dimensions of human life, culture, and politics through research that comes from fresh encounters across fields and cultures. It seeks knowledge that can provide a deeper background to political and economic relationships and ideas that can shape the future.

Each fellow was selected based on the scope, potential outcome, and research originality of their proposals. Meet each of our fellows here.



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.