Casa dei Tre Oci

Establishing a presence in the heart of Europe, the Berggruen Institute today held its first event in Casa dei Tre Oci in Venice, the historic building it has now formally acquired from the Fondazione di Venezia through the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust. The Institute intends to make Casa dei Tre Oci its center of European activity: a gathering place for global dialogue and new ideas, housing an international program of summits, workshops, symposia, and exhibitions in the visual arts and architecture.

To mark this milestone in its ten-year history, the Institute announced in Casa dei Tre Oci that philosopher Peter Singer is the 2021 recipient of the $1 million Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture, given annually to thinkers whose ideas have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world. Peter Singer will receive the Prize in the Spring of 2022 in a ceremony to be held in Los Angeles.

Commenting on the acquisition of Casa dei Tre Oci, Nicolas Berggruen, Chairman of the Berggruen Institute, remarked, “As Italo Calvino once wrote, ‘You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.’ We see Venice as a gateway for those seeking answers to the most pressing questions and challenges of our time—and Casa dei Tre Oci as the nexus of the Institute’s work in developing ideas to build a better world. We are deeply grateful to take this step forward with the Fondazione di Venezia in establishing a European presence. We look forward to developing our program at the Tre Oci in the coming years.”

Michele Bugliese, President of the Fondazione di Venezia, said “I thank Nicolas Berggruen for the collaborative spirit that the Institute brought to the Fondazione di Venezia in acquiring Casa dei Tre Oci. We celebrate the realization of a project of international stature consistent with the institutional purpose of the Fondazione and with the history and character of this building. With Casa dei Tre Oci continuing to be the site of constructive discussion on contemporary issues, we look forward to the prospects of its future cooperation with other institutions in Venice, placing it at the center of the city’s cultural life.”

In centering its European program at Casa dei Tre Oci, the Berggruen Institute will preserve the building’s function and identity as part of the cultural fabric of Venice. Tre Oci will attract local and international guests, policymakers and political thinkers, artists and architects, authors and scholars, scientists and technologists—across cultures, disciplines, and political boundaries—to develop and promote long-term answers to the biggest challenges of the 21st century. As part of the acquisition agreement, the Fondazione di Venezia will continue to use the Tre Oci to present its program of photography exhibitions for two years and will potentially work with the Institute on future exhibitions.

Designed as a private home and studio by the artist Mario De Maria and built on the Giudecca in 1913, the neo-Gothic Casa dei Tre Oci has a long history of hosting artists and intellectuals (including participants in the Venice Biennale) and serving as a venue for cultural meetings and debates. The Fondazione di Venezia acquired the Tre Oci in 2000, conducted a careful architectural restoration, and in 2012 reopened the building to the public as a space for photography exhibitions. In 2007, the Regional Directorate for Cultural and Landscape Heritage of the Veneto declared the Tre Oci to be an asset of historical and artistic interest.

In April, June, and December of 2022, Berggruen Arts & Culture will present a series of artist conversations in partnership with ArtReview at Casa dei Tre Oci.

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.