Xiao Liu

Xiao Liu

East Asian Studies Expert, 2020-2021 Berggruen Fellow


Xiao Liu’s research cut across areas of information studies, media and communication studies, science and technology studies, technology governance and policy, postsocialist and China studies, as well as science fiction and cultural studies. Her book, Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China (University of Minnesota Press 2019), is the winner of the Science Fiction Research Association 2019 Book Award, and has been featured by New Books Network on Systems and Cybernetics, International Journal of Communication, The China Journal and other venues. In 2019-2020, she worked as a fellow at the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution of the World Economic Forum along with multi-stakeholders to make governance frameworks for emergent technologies, which led to the publication of the White Paper “The Internet of Bodies is Here: Tackling New Challenges of Technology Governance.” She is currently a Wilson China Fellow with a project that studies the governance space of personal data in China. At Berggruen, she will join other fellows and colleagues to study how the transformations of the human under evolving technical conditions demand a rethinking of existing approaches to technology governance.

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