Ian Cheng

b. 1984, Los Angeles, USA. Lives and works in New York, USA


Ian Cheng
Ian Cheng, Droning Like a Ur, 2014


Drawing on the principles of video game design, cognitive science and screenplay writing, Ian Cheng’s work explores the ability of humans to relate to changing environments. Since 2012 Cheng has produced a series of virtual ecosystems populated by agents that are programmed with behavioural drives, but that have been left to self-evolve. This series culminated in the Emissaries trilogy (2015–17) featuring three characters whose motivation to enact a story and assert a belief system is contrasted with the open-ended chaos of the simulation. More recently the artist has developed BOB (Bag of Beliefs), an AI creature whose personality, body and life story develop across exhibitions. Audiences can interact with BOB, in what Cheng calls ‘art with a nervous system’.