9 April 2018
new art, flag art, good art, portal art
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.
Image: Ian Cheng, Emissary in the Squat of Gods, 2015, live simulation and story, infinite duration, sound,