Vincent Ialenti

Vincent Ialenti

Anthropologist, 2021-22 Berggruen Fellow


Vincent Ialenti is an Assistant Research Professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. He holds a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology from Cornell University. His new book, Deep Time Reckoning (MIT Press), is an ethnographic study of how Finland’s nuclear waste repository “safety case” experts grapple with distant future ecosystems and the limits of imagination. Vincent’s research on nuclear waste expert culture has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, The Mellon Foundation, and The MacArthur Foundation. He has published in Social Studies of ScienceThe Journal of the Royal Anthropological InstituteNuclear TechnologyScience & Technology StudiesPhysics Today, and The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Alongside his scholarly work, Vincent has written several articles for NPR, the BBC, Forbes, Nautilus, and other public outlets. As a USC Berggruen Fellow, he will develop—in collaboration with The Long Now Foundation—a toolkit for nurturing societal time literacy, and for envisioning more long-termist, multi-temporal systems of governance.

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.