Benjamin Bratton

Benjamin Bratton



Benjamin Bratton is the Director of the Antikythera program at Berggruen Institute. He is a Professor of Philosophy of Technology and Speculative Design at the University of California, San Diego. His research spans the philosophy of technology, social and political theory, computational media & infrastructure, and speculative design. He is the author of several books including The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2016), The Revenge of the Real: Politics for a Post-Pandemic World (Verso, 2021), The Terraforming (Strelka Press, 2019), and Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution (e-flux/Sternberg Press, 2015).  He Visiting Professor at the European Graduate School, New York University-Shanghai, and SCI_Arc (the Southern California Institute of Architecture) and previously directed several think tanks at the Strelka Institute. His current book project develops a new philosophy of the “artificial” in relation to climate change, planetary science, synthetic intelligence, and the prospects of viable planetary futures.

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.