Anjan Sundaram

Anjan Sundaram

Author, Journalist, TV Presenter, 2020-2021 Berggruen Fellow


Anjan Sundaram is an award-winning author, journalist, academic, and television presenter. He is the author of Stringer, Bad News, and Breakup. His books have been featured by Christiane Amanpour and Fareed Zakaria on CNN, Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and NPR’s All Things Considered. 

Anjan presented the critically-acclaimed TV series, “Coded World”, about how Artificial Intelligence and algorithms are changing humanity. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Granta, the New York Review of Books, and The Guardian

He has received Reuters and Frontline Club prizes for his reporting and has served as an artist-in-residence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. He is also a Skoll World Fellow and a TED Fellow, and was invited to give a TED Talk about his war correspondence. Stringer was a Royal African Society Book of the Year in 2014, and Bad News was an Amazon Book of the Year in 2016. 

Anjan graduated from Yale University with a Master of Science in mathematics and he holds a Ph.D. in journalism. He is currently working on a novel, building on his Berggruen Fellowship research, about the relationship between humans, technology and nature.”

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.