Bin Wong

Bin Wong

Distinguished Professor of History, University of California at Los Angeles


Before coming to UCLA in 2004, Bin Wong served as Director of the Center for Asian Studies at UC Irvine where he was also Chancellor’s Professor of History and Economics. At UCLA he is responsible for fostering collaborations with a strong Asian component across campus, nationally, and internationally.  These include new inter-disciplinary initiatives spanning research, graduate training, and class room curricula in K-16 settings.  Wong’s own research has examined Chinese patterns of political, economic and social change, especially since eighteenth century, both within Asian regional contexts and compared with more familiar European patterns, as part of the larger scholarly efforts under way to make world history speak to contemporary conditions of globalization. Among his books,  China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience  (Cornell University Press, 1997) is the best known in its English and Chinese editions. Wong has also written or co-authored more than eighty articles published in North America, East Asia and Europe, published in Chinese, English, French, German and Japanese in journals that reach diverse audiences within and beyond academia. His most recent book, co-authored with Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, is  Before and Beyond Divergence: The Politics of Economic Change in China and Europe  (Harvard University Press, 2011); Chinese, French and Japanese translations are being made.  He has been a visiting professor and researcher at institutions in China, France, Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.  Since 2009 he has been a Distinguished Guest Professor at the Fudan University Institute for Advanced Study in Social Sciences.

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.