Michael A. McCarthy

Michael A. McCarthy

Economic Democracy Activist, 2021-2023 Berggruen Fellow


Michael A. McCarthy is an economic democracy activist and Associate Professor of Sociology at Marquette University. He holds a PhD and MA from New York University and a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Much of his work is on power and finance. He is the author of the award-winning book, Dismantling Solidarity: Capitalist Politics and American Pensions since the New Deal (Cornell University Press, 2017), which explains the marketization of old-age income in the US.  He is co-editor of the volume Rethinking Class and Social Difference(Emerald, 2020) through the Political Power and Social Theory book series and has written for several peer-reviewed journals, including Annual Review of SociologyCritical Historical StudiesLabor Studies JournalMobilizationPolitics & Society and Socio-Economic Review. He is also a regular contributor to Jacobin Magazine and has advanced public debates about economic democracy in venues such as The Washington PostBoston ReviewRenewal, and Tribune Magazine. He is currently undertaking several projects about economic justice, including a co-authored book on the social theory of Erik Olin Wright. As a Berggruen Fellow at USC, he will complete a manuscript on democratizing finance, tentatively titled The Master’s Tools: Using Finance Against Capitalism, which is under contract with Verso Books.

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