Ian Cheng. Courtesy of the artist.

Ian Cheng

Artist

Ian Cheng’s work explores the nature of mutation and the capacity of humans to relate to change. Drawing on principles of video game design, improv, and cognitive science, Cheng has developed “live simulations”, living virtual ecosystems that begin with basic programmed properties, but are left to self-evolve without authorial intent or end. His simulations model the dynamics of often imaginative organisms and objects, but do so with the unforgiving causality found in nature itself. What results is a cascade of emergent behaviors that the artist can manage but never truly control. Cheng describes his simulations as akin to a “neurological gym”: a format for viewers to deliberately exercise feelings of confusion, anxiety, and cognitive dissonance that accompany the experience of unrelenting change.