Born 1984 in Los Angeles, California. Lives and works in New York.
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 produced a series of simulations exploring an agent’s capacity to deal with an ever-evolving environment. These works culminated in the Emissaries trilogy, which introduced a narrative agent whose motivation to enact a story was set into conflict with the open-ended chaos of the simulation. Most recently, he has developed BOB (Bag of Beliefs), an AI creature whose personality, body, and life story evolve across exhibitions, what Cheng calls “art with a nervous system.”
Recent solo exhibitions include: Life After BOB, Light Art Space, Berlin, Germany (2022); Life After BOB, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2022); Life After BOB, The Shed, New York, US (2021); Life After BOB: The Chalice Study, Luma Westbau, Zurich, Switzerland (2021); Life After BOB: The Chalice Study, Luma Arles, Arles, France (2021); Emissary Trilogy, Fundación Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Madrid (2020); Emissary Forks at Perfection, Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia, Venice (2018); Ian Cheng Emissaries, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin (2018); Ian Cheng, Serpentine Gallery, London (2018); Emissaries, MoMA PS1, New York (2017); Forking at Perfection, Migros Museum, Zurich (2016); Emissary in the Squat of Gods, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2015).
Recent group exhibitions include: Old and New Dreams: Recent Acquisitions in a Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2022); Among the Machines, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2022); Time is money?, Kadist x G Museum, Nanjing (2021); Things, Spaces, Interactions, M+, Hong Kong (2021); On the Threshold, Luma, Arles (2020); Uncanny Valley, De Youmg, Fine Art Museum of San Francisco (2020); Mud Muses, Moderna Museet, Stockhom (2019); If the Snake, Okayama Art Summit, Japan (2019); May You Live in Interesting Times, Venice Biennale (2019); New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century, MoMA, New York (2019); Leaving the Echo Chamber, Sharjah Biennial, UAE (2019); Low Form, MAXXI, Rome (2018); I Was Raised on the Internet, MCA Chicago (2018).