Chenyang Li

Chenyang Li

Philosopher; 2015-16 Berggruen Fellow at CASBS


Chengyang Li is a Professor of Philosophy at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where he also founded and directs the Philosophy program He has previously served as Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Central Washington University (USA), where he received the University Distinguished Research Professor Award, Outstanding Department Chair Award, and the Key to Success Award (Student Service). His main research interests are Chinese philosophy and comparative philosophy. He has published 9 books, including The Confucian Philosophy of Harmony (2013), The Tao Encounters the West: Explorations in Comparative Philosophy (1999), The Sage and the Second Sex (ed. 2000), The East Asian Challenge for Democracy: Political Meritocracy in Comparative Perspective (co-edited with Daniel Bell, 2013), Moral Cultivation and Confucian Character: Engaging Joel J. Kupperman (co-edited with Peimin Ni, 2014), and over 100 journal articles and book chapters in such venues as Philosophy East and West, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, Asian Philosophy, Review of Metaphysics, Journal of Value Inquiry, Hypathia, International Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophia , and Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy. He was an ACE fellow (2008-2009) and the first president of the Association of Chinese Philosophers in Northern America (1995-1997). He is currently Vice President of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy and serves on the editorial/academic boards of 22 publications and scholarly organizations.

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.