Stanley Qiufan Chen

Stanley Qiufan Chen

Speculative Fiction Writer; 2022-2023 Berggruen Fellow


Chen Qiufan (a.k.a. Stanley Chen, is an award-winning Chinese speculative fiction author. His works include the debut novel Waste Tide which sets in the near-future China haunting by electronic waste and the ghost of Extractionism, as well as AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future, co-authored with Dr. Kai-Fu Lee (author of AI Superpower) innovatedly blends the format of science fiction with tech analysis, exploring the potential chances and risks in an AI-Human coevolving era, which won them a prize as Germany Best Business Book of the year.

He’s often involved in public and academic events. Chen frequently lectures on a variety of topics, including Chinese Science Fiction History, Climate Change and ecological issue, AI Writing and Techno-shamanism.

For his Berggruen Fellowship, Chen plans to organize and lead an interdisciplinary storymaking / storybreaking/storytelling effort in the Vaster Than Empires project, which brings together scientists, storytellers, and media specialists to advance our collective capacity to understand as well as to imagine forms of intelligence that transcend the individual human mind to encompass planetary perspectives.

Also, he will be involved and organize Hemispherical Stacks Workshop, which will bring together a select group of science-fiction writers, philosophers, political scientists and designers who will speculate together on the geopolitical futures of planetary computation.

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.