Ian Cheng’s work explores the nature of mutation and the capacity of humans to relate to change. Drawing on principles of video game design, improvisation, and cognitive science, Cheng has developed “live simulations”, living virtual ecosystems that begin with basic programmed properties, but are left to self-evolve without authorial intent or end. His simulations model the dynamics of often imaginative organisms and objects, but do so with the unforgiving causality found in nature itself. What results is a cascade of emergent behaviors that the artist can manage but never truly control. Cheng describes his simulations as akin to a “neurological gym”: a format for viewers to deliberately exercise feelings of confusion, anxiety, and cognitive dissonance that accompany the experience of unrelenting change. Through simulations, Cheng wonders if it’s possible to love these difficult feelings and refactor our relationship to indeterminacy as a feature of being alive today, not a bug.
Ian Cheng (b.1984 Los Angeles, USA) lives and works in New York. Current and recent solo exhibitions include: EMISSARY FORKS featuring THOUSAND ISLANDS, Espace Louis Vuitton München (2017); EMISSARIES, MoMA PS1, New York (2017); Forking at Perfection, Migros Museum, Zurich (2016); Emissary Forks At Perfection, Pilar Corrias Gallery, London (2015); Emissary in the Squat of Gods, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2015); Real Humans, with Wu Tsang, Jordan Wolfson, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf (2015); Ian Cheng, La Triennale di Milano, Milan (2014); Baby feat. Bali, Standard (Oslo), Oslo (2013).
Recent group exhibitions include: Yokohama Triennale 2017, Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama (2017); Suspended Animation: Headlong into digital space, Les Abattoirs, Musée FRAC Occitanie, Toulouse (2017); Generation Loss: 10 Years Julia Stoschek Collection, Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf (2017); Shanghai Project Chapter 2 Exhibition: Seeds of Time, Shanghai Himalayas Museum, Shanghai (2017); BMW Tate Live Exhibition: Ten Days Six Nights, Tate Modern, London (2017); Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art 1905–2016, Whitney Museum, New York (2016); Take Me (I’m Yours), Jewish Museum, New York (2016); Overpop, Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2016); Liverpool Biennial (2016); WELT AM DRAHT, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin (2016); Stranger, MOCA, Cleveland (2016); Suspended Animation, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington (2016); Co-Workers, Musee d’Moderne Paris (2015); Taipei Biennial – The Great Acceleration, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei (2014); Phantom Limbs, Pilar Corrias Gallery, London (2014).