Ian Cheng

(USA) b.1984

Lives and works in New York

In Ian Cheng’s animated simulation Droning Like an Ur, three archetypal games play out on the same virtual terrain. Their respective players mix and mutate – not only in shape and behavior, but also in status: as protagonists, as extras, as props. The camera moves through the simulation like a nature documentary, uncertain what in the frame is truly of interest, hedging on every emergent story. It learns to focus on small disruptions. Lines of influence are revealed and status gets reshuffled. A “who” becomes a “what,” figure becomes ground, noise becomes information. The only stable view is of change itself.

What are games in the era of big data? Artificial models to play with complexities that our mental models – enforced by reflexes, emotions, habits, memory, ancient voices – cannot grasp alone. At the expense of caricaturing the awe of the world, games squash and stretch deep-rooted causal chains and freely reframe part-to-whole perceptions in a nauseating Powers of Ten zoom. Can we self-stimulate evolution to render non-human-scaled complexities as thinkable, even feelable? To become more and less than human?  Gaming to mutate consciousness is the premise of Cheng’s current work.

Recent solo exhibitions include Ian Cheng, La Triennale di Milano, Milan (2014); Baby feat. Bali, Standard (Oslo), Oslo (2013); Frieze Frame, London (2013); Entropy Wrangler, Off Vendome, Dusseldorf (2013); and This Papaya Tastes Perfect, Formalist Sidewalk Poetry Club, Miami Beach (2011). Recent group exhibitions include the 12th Lyon Biennial (2013); Freak Out, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York (2013); ProBio, Expo1, MoMA PS1, New York (2013); and A Disagreeable Object, Sculpture Center, New York (2012). 

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