Siri Hustvedt

Siri Hustvedt



Siri Hustvedt is the author of a book of poetry, seven novels, five collections of essays, and two works of nonfiction. She has a PhD in English literature from Columbia University and is a lecturer in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. Her scholarly work is interdisciplinary. She has published papers in various academic and scientific journals on questions in philosophy, neuroscience, psychiatry, and literature. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including The International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities (2012), The Los Angeles Book Prize for Fiction for The Blazing World, which was also long-listed for the Man Booker Prize (2015). In 2019, she won an Award for Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the European Essay Prize for The Delusions of Certainty—a book-length essay on the mind/body problem—and the Princess of Asturias Award for Literature. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Photo credit: Spencer Ostrander

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.