Ruth Chang

Ruth Chang

Philosopher; 2016-17 Berggruen Fellow at CASBS


Ruth Chang is Chair of Jurisprudence at the University of Oxford and a Professional Fellow at University College, Oxford. Before that, she was a Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. She has held visiting appointments in philosophy the University of California Los Angeles and in law at the University of Chicago Law School. She has a Ph.D. from Balliol College, Oxford University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Chang’s research focuses on how we can appropriately integrate multiple criteria of relevance in normative, epistemic, and scientific inquiry and the ways in which the reasons for and against options that are based on such criteria might relate. Her research has upshots for both individual and collective or institutional decision-making and has been the subject of articles and interviews by various media outlets around the world including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, Italy, Germany, Israel, Brazil, New Zealand, and Austria. She has been a consultant or lecturer for institutions and industries ranging from video gaming to pharmaceuticals to the Navy and World Bank.

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.