Trump Is Not the Leader of the U.S. — Just of His Base

Nathan Gardels

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland. July 16, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The “America First” president who denigrates democratic allies as foes is no longer the leader of the free nor, without them, of the world. Whatever truth there may be in the obsolescence of NATO or the free-riding of the European Union, to diminish America’s allies is to diminish its own influence in the world. The world order President Trump seems to envision is one of grand spheres of influence apportioned to the United States, China and Russia. If the Helsinki summit this week is any indication, what differentiated the United States on the world stage no longer does. Trump’s America is a solely self-interested big power just like the others.

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.