Global Thinkers Series

The spread of more deadly Covid-19 variants has once again raised uncertainty of economic reopening around the world. At the same time, climate disasters occurring across continents have triggered a fear of imminent ecological disaster. These worldwide events once again reminded us of what the global commons ought to be. However, geopolitical landscape is still immersed in trade wars, tech wars, zero-sum competitions, and ideological and political confrontation. Severe misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the civilizational values and cultural psychology of “others” are constraining our ability to face existential issues of a planetary scale. and obstructing our capacity to solve these problems.

The Berggruen Institute and Caixin Media believe that global cooperation must be based on a mutual understanding of the development trajectories and values of the world’s major civilizations.

The Global Thinker Series invites thinkers who have deep insights into the evolution of different civilizations and the grand narratives of world history to share their knowledge and wisdom. It is hoped that with strengthened understanding and trust between different civilizations, we can help remove the intolerance, arrogance, and misunderstanding that has come to characterize contemporary geopolitics.

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.