Lois Rosson

Lois Rosson

Historian, 2022-2023 Berggruen Fellow


Lois Rosson received her Ph.D. from the History Department at U.C. Berkeley in 2022, where she specialized in the History of Science. Her undergraduate training is in fine art, and prior to starting graduate school she held a graphic design internship at NASA’s Ames Research Center. The experience spurred an ongoing interest in pictorial representations of space subjects and the visual culture of scientific institutions. She has since been a Guggenheim Fellow at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, a research associate at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, and holds the 2023 – 2024 Octavia E. Butler Fellowship at the Huntington Library. At Berggruen, she will complete her first book manuscript, which examines the impact of midcentury astronomical illustration on perceptions of space landscapes in both the popular and scientific imaginaries. By focusing on illustrators as a group with tangible influence over the “look” of space in the twentieth century, the project explains why certain visual tropes—such as the persistent characterization of space as a type of western frontier—continue to permeate contemporary aerospace.

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