David B. Wong

David B. Wong

Philosopher; 2015-16 Berggruen Fellow at CASBS


David B. Wong is the Susan Fox Beischer and George D. Beischer Professor of Philosophy at Duke University. He has written essays in contemporary ethical theory, moral psychology, and on classical Chinese philosophy, including “Cultivating the Self in Concert with Others,” Dao Companion to the Analects (2013) , ed. Amy Olberding, “Emotion and the Cognition of Reasons in Moral Motivation,” Philosophical Issues (2009), “Cultural Pluralism and Moral Identity”, in Personality, Identity, and Character: Explorations in Moral Psychology (2009) , ed. Darcia Narvaez and Dan Lapsley, “The Meaning of Detachment in Daoism, Buddhism, and Stoicism,” Dao (2006), and “Is There a Distinction between Reason and Emotion in Mencius?” Philosophy East and West (1991). His books are Moral Relativity (University of California Press, 1984) and Natural Moralities: A Defense of Pluralistic Relativism (2006, Oxford University Press)

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.

RAVE (IRCAM 2021) https://github.com/acids-ircam/RAVE