David Hempton

David Hempton

Dean, Harvard Divinity School


David Hempton is the Alonzo L. McDonald Family Professor of Evangelical Theological Studies, John Lord O’Brian Professor of Divinity and Dean of the Harvard Divinity School. Before moving to Harvard he was University Professor and Professor of the History of Christianity at Boston University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and former Professor of Modern History and Director of the School of History in the Queen’s University of Belfast. He is a former chairman of the Wiles Trust founded by Sir Herbert Butterfield to promote innovative thinking on the history of civilization. He is the author of many books and articles, including most recently,  Methodism: Empire of the Spirit  (2005), winner of the Jesse Lee prize;  Evangelical Disenchantment: Nine Portraits of Faith and Doubt  (2008), and  The Church in the Long Eighteenth Century  (2011), winner of the Outler Prize of the American Society of Church History. He has research and teaching interests in religion and political culture, religious identities and ethnic conflicts, lived religion, Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism, the global history of Christianity, and secularization. He is currently engaged on a comparative study of secularization in Europe and the United States.

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