Jennifer London

Jennifer London

Political Theorist; 2017-19 Berggruen Fellow


Jennifer London is doing a comparative study of the global history of equilibrium and how normative systems legitimize hierarchical structures at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Formerly a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Tufts University, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is a Faculty Fellow for the Association of Analytic Learning about Islam and Muslim Societies. Her upcoming book, tentatively titled Fighting for Inclusion in Autocracy , analyzes the earliest writings of Arabic prose and political theory. Her publications include: “How Historical Methods Can Advance the Study of Political Science” ( Annual Review of Political Science, 2016), “The Circle of Justice” (History of Political Thought , 2011), and “How To Do Things With Fables: Ibn al-Muqaffa’s Frank Speech in Stories from Kalīla wa-Dimna” ( History of Political Thought, 2008).

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.