Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer

Writer & Essayist, TIME


Pico Iyer is a Distinguished Presidential Fellow at Chapman University, a longtime essayist for Time magazine, a frequent contributor to The New York Times and the author of 10 books and more than 40 introductions to other books. He writes up to 100 articles a year, for magazines from The New York Review of Books to Wired and Vanity Fair to Harper’s, and he’s also given talks for TED, been a Fellow, more than once, at the World Economic Forum, and written a film-script for Miramax. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and been sold to Hollywood.

A product of Eton, Oxford and Harvard, Iyer was born in Oxford, England to parents from India and grew up between school in England and holidays in his parents’ new home in California. At Eton he was a King’s Scholar and at Oxford he graduated with a Congratulatory Double First in English, and the highest marks of any student in the university.

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