Leeum Museum of Art presents Ian Cheng: Worlding, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Asia. Through his pioneering works comprising virtual ecosystems created with artificial intelligence and game engine, Ian Cheng (b. 1984) creatively explores and philosophically contemplates the nature of human consciousness. Ian Cheng: Worlding is the first exhibition to bring together all of the virtual worlds that Cheng has created. The artist’s boundless imagination and futuristic vision are on full display in all five of the featured works, the latest of which was produced with support from Leeum.
Included in the exhibition is the Emissaries trilogy (2015–2017), the unique series that brought Cheng to the attention of the international art world. In this live simulation, which the artist describes as a “video game that plays itself,” AI-based characters and environment are contained in a virtual ecosystem in which new and unforeseen events continuously arise.
In BOB (Bag of Beliefs) (2018–2019), an artificial creature that resembles a snake explores the inner workings of human consciousness. Just as every person has different faces and traits that can appear in a given situation, BOB consists of multiple artificial intelligences with various motives. Using the customized app, audience members are invited and encouraged to help form BOB’s personality and beliefs.
Cheng’s latest work in the show is Life After BOB: The Chalice Study (2021), a feature-length animation created with support from Leeum, The Shed (New York), the LUMA Foundation, and Light Art Space (LAS, Berlin). Telling the story of Chalice Wong, a ten-year old girl with an AI “BOB” brain implant, this work reveals the artist’s imagining of a future in which humans and artificial intelligence coexist. After viewing the work, the audience can use a link to gain access to the interactive “World Watching” mode to explore Cheng’s animated world in even greater depth.
Curated by Gina Lee, Curator, Leeum Museum of Art
About Leeum Museum of Art
Leeum Museum of Art was established in 2004 by the Samsung Foundation of Culture to preserve the cultural assets of Korea and to share with the public its expansive collection ranging from traditional Korean art to modern and contemporary art of the world. The museum is dedicated to enhancing appreciation and understanding of art through exhibitions, artist support programs, education, research, and publications. Three of the world’s most renowned architects designed the three buildings of the museum. Mario Botta designed the terracotta building (M1) for the museum’s traditional Korean art collection, Jean Nouvel designed the rusted stainless steel building (M2) for the museum’s modern and contemporary art collection, and Rem Koolhaas designed the futuristic black concrete and glass edifice for the museum’s special exhibitions and Child Education & Culture Center.