Ian Cheng uses techniques from computer programming to create living environments defined by their abilities to mutate and evolve. “I’ve been developing ‘live simulations’, living virtual ecosystems that begin with basic programmed properties but are left to self- evolve without authorial control or end. It is a format to deliberately exercise the feelings of confusion, anxiety, and cognitive dissonance that accompany the experience of unrelenting change”, he explains.
Cheng’s most recent creature, BOB (Bag of Beliefs) (2018-2019), presented in the Central Pavilion, is a form of AI (artificial intelligence) whose personality, values, and body – which recalls a serpent or coral – are continually growing. BOB’s behavioural patterns and life script are fuelled by interactions with humans, who are able to influence BOB’s actions via an iOS app.
Life After BOB: First Tract (2019), presented in the Arsenale, operates as a sort of “preview” to a narrative universe centred around BOB.