Liz Fouksman

Liz Fouksman

Sociologist; 2017-18 Berggruen Fellow at Harvard EJSCE


Liz Fouksman researches widely held social, cultural, and moral attachment to wage labor and the impediment such attachment poses for new imaginaries of the future of work and distribution in an increasingly automated world, at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. In particular, Liz is investigating the ways unemployed welfare recipients in southern Africa link time-use, work, and income. Her research asks how this feeds into wide-spread resistance to utopian calls for a universal basic income and shorter working hours. Liz holds a doctorate in International Development from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. Before coming to the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Liz spent two years as a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Research and Social Justice at the Society, Work and Development Institute, based at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Liz’s recent publications include “Development as Knowledge Networks: From Global Ideas to Grassroots Movements” ( Third World Quarterly , 2017) and “What Shall the Fishermen Become? A Review of James Ferguson’s ‘Give a Man a Fish: Reflections of the New Politics of Distribution’” ( Basic Income Studies, 2015).

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.