Fellowship Program

The Transformations of the Human program has three categories of fellowships.

The first is tailored towards junior scholars: For our research projects, we recruit researchers with a postgraduate degree (MA, PhD). These research positions run for three years, contingent on annual reviews, and comprise philosophers, artists, and social scientists who are placed into AI and biotech laboratories. Their task is to discover philosophical questions (instances of the transformation of the human) reverberating in the concrete everyday labor of the engineers and researchers.

Second, ToftH welcomes every year a highly curated cohort of Residential Fellows, who are typically mid-career to senior academics, authors and journalists who work at Berggruen Institute headquarters in Los Angeles or at our China Center in Beijing and are directly integrated in our working groups.

Finally, ToftH is proud to offer Senior Research Fellowships to academic and non-academic scholars: Senior Fellows are typically invited by ToftH to co-design a research program that explores key aspects of the contemporary transformations of the human.

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