Sara Hudson

Sara Hudson

Writer, Researcher, Strategist, 2020-2021 Berggruen Fellow


Dr. Sara Hudson is a writer, researcher, and senior strategist advising philanthropic and civil organizations to solve complex civic challenges faced by communities historically ignored, overlooked, or made invisible. Her work elevates individual lives and opportunities while addressing systemic breakdowns. She has a PhD in American Studies from Yale University. She examined the collection, preservation, and erasure of BIPOC and immigrant women and children in archives and information systems used to build histories, craft stories, and enable economic enfranchisement. In post-Katrina New Orleans, she created NOLA Ready, the city’s still-used crisis communications systems to ensure multilingual, accurate, transparent, and equitable access to life-saving information. A FEMA-trained emergency responder, she led New Orleans’ real-time communications during hurricanes, flooding, bomb threats, the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, and other planned and unplanned challenges. She is the former Director of Digital Communications at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Department of Justice Digital Innovation Fellow, and a civic philanthropy advisor. At Berggruen, she will partner with Lenny Mendonca and Laura D’Andrea Tyson on the forthcoming book The New Age of Progressive Federalism.

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.