Boris Shoshitaishvili

Boris Shoshitaishvili

Social Scientist, 2022-2023 Berggruen Fellow


Boris Shoshitaishvili is a science studies scholar with a background in evolutionary biology, comparative literature, and ancient Greek epic poetry. His work focuses on the relationship between the Earth sciences, globalization, and collective identity. He has published articles and reviews in Earth’s Future, The Anthropocene Review, and Bryn Mawr Classical Review, and co-authored scientific papers in Ageing Research Reviews and The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in UC Berkeley’s Anthropology department after earning his PhD in Comparative Literature from Stanford.

As a USC Berggruen Fellow, Boris is working on a book exploring how we can understand certain concepts from the Earth sciences – the Anthropocene, Gaia Theory, and the Noosphere – as early attempts to formulate specific “planetary identities,” which are poised to influence cultural, political, and institutional practices in the near future.

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.