Jason Oakes

Jason Oakes

Sociologist; 2019-20 Junior Berggruen Fellow


Jason Oakes is a sociologist and historian of science interested in the organization of work, the sociology of knowledge, the history of the human sciences, and the philosophy of modeling among other things. Philosophically he is a follower of Pragmatists like John Dewey and Hasok Chang. He uses a historical and comparative approach to study complex problems.

His previous work was on the history of Cold War models of growth and resource constraints in biology and economics, particularly as instantiated by Garrett Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons and Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb.

Currently, Jason collaborates with philosophers and social scientists at the UC Davis program in science and technology studies and the Tremont Research Institute in San Francisco. He also consulted on projects working on the social studies of algorithms, medical billing software, medical device interoperability, and the solidarity economy.

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