Life After BOB imagines new archetypal characters for our weird chaotic times, and gives life to them through an experience that integrates authored cinematic storytelling with open-ended simulated worlding.Ian Cheng
Life After BOB: The Chalice Study, introduces the character of Chalice Wong, a 10-year-old girl whose father, Dr. Wong, installs in her nervous system an experimental artificial intelligence named BOB ("Bag of Beliefs") to guide her through the challenge of growing up in an ever-changing world. As Dr. Wong begins to prefer BOB to Chalice, and as BOB threatens to lead Chalice's life better than herself, a jealous Chalice wonders: what is left for me to do, as a classic human?
Life After BOB invents a new form of programmable narrative that allows the visitor to explore more deeply the narratives of the world, and even to influence its contents. Ian Cheng combines the real-time cinematic tools of the Unity program with an AI-managed 'wiki world', which gives the viewer read and write rights to play, modify and expand the details of the fictional world by editing the wiki.
The exhibition presents a large-scale experience of narrative animation that emphasises the drama of the story, but is also a vivid presentation of the changes made to the wiki world of Life After BOB. The exhibition also includes an interactive 'World Watching' which is a presentation of the animation that allows the viewer to freely explore the details of the Life After BOB world at their own pace.
In his latest work, Ian Cheng has defined the principles of video game design, improvisation, and cognitive science to create computer simulations that explore an agent's ability to respond to a constantly changing environment.
Co-commissioned by LUMA Foundation, The Shed (New-York), and Light Art Space (Berlin).
Ian Cheng (b. Los Angeles, 1984) is an artist living and working in New York.
He has exhibited widely including solo presentations at MoMA PS1, New York; Serpentine Galleries, London; and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh and group presentations at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art; New York; the 2019 Venice Biennale; Hirshhorn Museum; Washington, D.C.; Tate Modern, London; Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen; and Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris. Since 2012, Cheng has produced a series of simu- lations exploring an agent’s capacity to deal with an ever-changing 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.” In 2015, Cheng founded Metis Suns, a production company dedicated to worlding and worlding literacy.