Margaret Liu Clinton

Margaret Liu Clinton

Exhibition Maker, Writer, Art Historian, 2020 Berggruen Fellow


Margaret Liu Clinton is an art historian, writer, and exhibition maker. Throughout her career as a gallerist and arts educator, Clinton has focused on critical art practices that employ interdisciplinary methodologies.

Between 2013-2020, Clinton owned and directed Koenig & Clinton, a multi-media, cross-generational gallery in New York. Prior to founding Koenig & Clinton she held director positions at Alexander Gray Associates and Miguel Abreu Gallery.

Before entering the commercial gallery system, Clinton served as the program assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Independent Study Program, of which she is also an alumna. She is currently completing her M.A. in art history at Hunter College and holds B.A. and B.S. degrees from the University of California, Davis. At the Berggruen Institute, she will be instrumental in developing the philosophy and art R&D platform that will bring together philosophy and technology in concrete art projects with the aim of building a new practice where philosophy and art and technology coincide.

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.