The Ethics of “Symbiosis”: Seeking a Trans-boundary Entry Through Comics, Literature, and Art

December 2, 2022

2:30am Virtual

Language: Chinese

December 2, 2022
2:30 a.m. – 4:00 a.m. PDT | 18:30-20:30  Beijing Time

Streaming Platform

In this lecture, Tsung-chieh Huang will begin her presentation by considering the relationship between human and other living species based on the work of Australian artist Patricia Piccnini such as “The Welcome Guest” (2011). Then she will explore the work of Japanese manga artists such as Daisuke Igarashi and Taiyo Matsumoto as examples to illustrate how the various genetic variations, hybrids and cross-border movements can bring about the imagination of “symbiotic ethics” in the post-human world. After that, Shi Danqing will respond to Huang’s ideas and discuss the theme of “symbiosis” based on his professional background in immersive and interactive exhibition design that involved cross-fertilization of science and art.

Key Discussion Topics

1. What kind of conflicts and flexibility in thinking can contemporary artwork about hybrid creatures bring to this post-human world — one that is full of mutations and cross-border movements?

2. What are the similarities and differences between the imagination of trans-boundary in anime and the “transformation of tradition” in early literary work?

3. How can the vision and perspective of the above-mentioned work be integrated in our present day-to-day life, providing an ethical image and practice of “co-living” and even “co-dying” between human beings and other species?

18:30 — 18:35 Opening Remarks
18:35 — 19:15 Presentation by Prof. Tsung-chieh HUANG
19:15 — 19:55 Presentation by Prof. SHI Danqing
19:55 — 20:30 Presenters’ Interaction and Q & A


Tsung-chieh HUANG
Professor, Department of Sinophone Literatures, National Dong Hwa University
Professor Huang’s research interests include contemporary literature in Taiwan and Hong Kong, nature writing, animal writing, and family writing. She is the co-author of Even If It Doesn’t Have a Face with Tsung-huei HUANG. She is the author of The Face of Ethics: Animal Symbols in Contemporary Art and Chinese Fiction and Where Is It From? The City. Animals and Literature (this book won the book review media Openbook 2017’s Good Lifestyle Book Award), Family Writing in Contemporary Taiwanese Literature: An Identity-Centered Exploration, The Construction of Life Ethics: The Case of Contemporary Taiwanese Literature, and other book reviews and animal-related discussions in columns such as Mirror Media, Mirror Voice and Fountain.

SHI Danqing
Associate Professor, Academy of Arts and Design, Tsinghua University
New Media Artist, Interaction Designer
Professor Shi is involved in organically integrating immersive and interactive digital art into urban and architectural spaces to create future-oriented spaces for narrative and entertainment experiences. He has organized various design digital media art projects in many places around the world, including: 20th Century Fox’s movie Avatar’s outdoor campaign in the U.S., BMW Museum in Germany, Micropia Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Hansol Paper Culture Museum in Korea, Microsoft Experience Centers, Digital Gallery at the Gate of Correct Deportment (Duan men)in the Palace Museum, China Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015, Xinhua Porcelain exhibition about living beings, etc. At the same time, he is actively promoting cross interaction between new media art and science and technology, as well as experimental cooperation across multiple disciplines.


LI Xiaojiao
Associate Director, Berggruen China Center
Xiaojiao Li is the Associate Director (Communications) for Berggruen China Center, where she oversees the Center’s communications strategies, media engagement plans, and she develops and manages the Center’s engagement with key partners. Prior to joining the Center, Xiaojiao worked as the Senior Public Affairs Officer (Media Relations) at the Australian Embassy in Beijing, the Program Officer at the Confucius Institute at the University of Adelaide, and the Events Coordinator at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy.

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.