Martijn Konings

Martijn Konings

Economist, 2021-2023 Berggruen Fellow


Martijn Konings is Professor of Political Economy and Social Theory at the University of Sydney, where he also serves as Associate Dean (Research) and co-directs a research program on asset ownership and the new inequality. He is the author of The Development of American Finance (Cambridge, 2011), The Emotional Logic of Capitalism: What Progressives Have Missed (Stanford, 2015), Neoliberalism (Polity, 2017, with Damien Cahill), Capital and Time: For a New Critique of Neoliberal Reason (Stanford, 2018), and The Asset Economy (Polity, 2020, with Lisa Adkins and Melinda Cooper). The research that he will undertake with the support of a Berggruen USC fellowship centers on the political economy of assets and wealth inequality. It will analyze the policy channels and mechanisms that sustain asset inflation in the current moment, as well as examine the politics of assets from a broader historical and conceptual perspective. He is Editor-in-Chief of Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory and co-edits, with Stefan Eich, the Stanford University Press series Currencies: New Thinking for Financial Times.

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.