Sense LA

  • Sense LA

A program to creatively harness the power of collective-intelligence through public participation, Sense LA works to build social cohesion and foster dialogue for the betterment of cities and their communities.


Sense LA, created by Berggruen Fellow Gabriel Kahan, is a new program for social cohesion and public participation. It is a work of socially engaged art that aims to create an urban collective-intelligence resource to help people from all backgrounds and abilities to have a voice in their community, understand their city, guide multi-pronged decision making, and cultivate shared perspectives. Sense LA accomplishes this by organizing gatherings called creative assemblies, drawing on individual experience to facilitate in-depth explorations of local issues and their interdependencies. The methodology utilized in these assemblies enables individuals within the community to identify and address problems of mutual interest and creatively visualize them in ways that facilitate new forms of understanding the intertwined and evolving relationship between individual and collective. The program’s methodology, called PREPARE, was created by artist and researcher Gabriel Kahan and mechanical engineering professor Alexander Slocum at MIT.

The Sense LA program has gathered interest from various stakeholders, city officials, non-profits, community organizers and neighborhood councils in Los Angeles. It illustrates Berggruen Institute’s commitment to creating opportunities for dialogue and innovative approaches in governance.


Recommendations for City of Los Angeles Master Plan / Wilshire Community Plan

The Berggruen Institute has launched a new project with the Korean American Federation of Los Angeles (KAFLA) to develop formal recommendations for the City of Los Angeles master plan.

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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.