Naomi Oreskes

Naomi Oreskes

Earth scientist and Historian, 2022-2023 Berggruen Fellow


Naomi Oreskes is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. A world-renowned earth scientist, historian and public intellectual, she is a leading voice on the role of science in society and the reality of anthropogenic climate change. She is the author or co-author of eight books, including the best-selling Merchants of Doubt (Bloomsbury, 2010).  Her new book, with Erik M. Conway, The Magic of the Marketplace: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market, will be published in early 2023. As a Berggruen fellow, she plans to continue her work on the question of how we can re-embrace government to address the twin crises of climate and (inadequately regulated) capitalism.

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.