Centring on Ian Cheng’s first narrative film The Chalice Study, this Light Art Space commission situates Cheng's work with computer-simulated animation in a physical installation. Inside Berlin’s iconic post-industrial venue Halle am Berghain, viewers will be taken on a psychologically-charged journey far beyond the screen.
Centring on Ian Cheng’s first narrative film The Chalice Study, this Light Art Space-commissioned exhibition plunges into the complex relationship between technology, human free will and desire. Life After BOB is a planned eight-part anime miniseries by Ian Cheng, wherein humans and AI merge, with turbulent consequences.
The exhibition advances the American artist's practice as, for the first time, Cheng situates his work with computer-simulated animation in a physical installation. Inside Berlin’s iconic post-industrial venue Halle am Berghain, the resultant experience takes viewers on a psychologically charged journey far beyond the screen. Ultimately, this odyssey unfolds within us, and our shifting social and technological context.
The Chalice Study takes place in not-so-distant 2074. In this ‘Great Anomic Era’, society has abandoned classical notions of humanity. The neural engineer Dr James Moonweed Wong has been pivotal in this process. His newest invention is an AI technology called ‘Bag of Beliefs’ (BOB), which promises to relieve humans of existential stresses, by co-piloting their consciousness. Complex consequences ensue, after Wong’s daughter Chalice becomes her father’s first test subject. Intending to guide his daughter through the challenges of growing up in a volatile world, Wong implants BOB into her nervous system. Things take a dark turn as BOB confronts more and more of Chalice’s life challenges on her behalf, while she descends into escapist despair, and wonders: what is left for her classic human self to do?
With Life After BOB, Cheng bridges cinematic storytelling, with the computer simulation techniques of his earlier work. The Chalice Study is the most ambitious feature film yet produced using Unity video game engine. This method separates the film from cinema as we know it. Instead of being projected from a reel or file, it is live-streamed for each screening. Meanwhile, an algorithmic feed perpetually transforms its details. After each streaming of the film, viewers encounter an interactive ‘worldwatching’ station. Here, they can pause the film and explore its details at their own speed. The exhibition will also include a merchandise offering, specially designed and produced for this show, including apparel and cherishables. In this way, Cheng’s work achieves an unprecedented reach into our shared culture and viewers’ lives.