The Berggruen Fellowship Program is a cornerstone of the Institute’s mission to nurture ideas that shape the future. Since its inception in 2015, the program has established academic partnerships at premier research universities throughout the world: Harvard, New York University, Oxford, Peking University, Stanford, Tsinghua University, and University of Southern California. It offers scholars the opportunity of flexible periods to live and work in both the United States and China.

Berggruen Fellows produce books, scholarly workshops, deliver lectures, colloquia, and academic articles to disseminate the ideas cultivated throughout their fellowship. Although diverse in their areas of study, Berggruen Fellows also collaborate and dialogue with one another throughout their term, providing an opportunity to expand upon and refine their ideas.

The themes of the fellowship range from global and technological development to philosophical and cultural change, with the focus varying within each program area. Berggruen Fellows’ independent research and points of collaboration will extend the Institute’s programmatic work on these Great Transformations: the Future of CapitalismTransformations of the Human, the Future of Democracy, and Geopolitics and Globalization.

Fellows working with the Future of Capitalism program will explore how forgotten communities band together to raise their collective prospects, how money can be considered a medium of communication subject to technological, cultural, and political change, and how the co-op ownership model can be merged with the platform economy to promote equity and stability for an increasingly precarious workforce. The Transformations of the Human (ToftH) program represents a philosophical study and artistic exploration of the ways AI and biotech challenge our conception of what it means to be human. Its Researchers will be placed in commercial and academic labs to cultivate understanding of AI and biotech development as not merely technical pursuits, but also as fundamentally philosophical and artistic practices with far-reaching consequences. Fellows working with the Future of Democracy program will pursue exciting angles on the reimagination of government by popular will, including devising an alternative framework for citizenship in a stateless world society, and harnessing digital technologies for the democratic process. Finally, the work of all Fellows will inform and support the Geopolitics and Globalization program, which seeks to promote collaboration on shared planetary challenges while preventing the disintegration of global order into blocs of hostile powers.

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.

RAVE (IRCAM 2021) https://github.com/acids-ircam/RAVE