Ian Cheng’s Real-Time Animation ‘Life After BOB’ Will Debut At The Shed


the shed, a new cultural institution on New York’s West Side, is teaming up with Luma Arles and LAS (Light Art Space) to present an international tour of Ian Cheng’s new work Life after Bob, an innovative form of storytelling animation that imagines how artificial intelligence will transform the archetypal scripts that guide our lives. This tour presents the first episode of the mini-series, The study of the chalice, a 48-minute animation built and presented “live” using the Unity video game engine. Life after Bob integrates classic authorial storytelling with real-time simulated features that enrich the viewer’s relationship with the characters and details of their world.

The exhibit premiered at Luma Arles in Arles, France in June 2021 and heads to The Shed for its North American debut from September 10 to December 19, 2021, followed by its Berlin presentation by LAS in 2022. Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea, provided dynamic feature support for Life after Bob.

Life After BOB: The Chalice Study, features the character of Chalice Wong, a 10-year-old girl whose father, Dr. Wong, installs an experimental AI named BOB (“Bag of Beliefs”) into her nervous system to guide her through the challenges of maturing in a -a changing world. As Dr. Wong begins to favor Chalice’s BOB side, and BOB threatens to do the job of living Chalice’s life better than she can, Chalice jealously wonders: what’s left to do? his classic human self?

The project pioneers a new form of programmable narrative media that allows the viewer to explore the world of storytelling in depth, and even influence its content. Cheng combines Unity’s suite of real-time cinematic tools with an AI-mediated “world wiki” that grants the viewer read/write permissions to play with, modify, and expand details of the fictional world by editing the wiki. The exhibition will present a large-scale experience of storytelling animation that highlights the drama of the story, but will also serve as a vivid presentation of changes to the Life after Bob world wiki. The exhibition will also include an interactive “World Watching” presentation of animation that allows viewers to freely explore the details of the Life after Bob world at their own pace.

“Life After BOB imagines archetypal new characters for our ever-strange times and brings them to life through an experience that integrates auteur cinematic storytelling with a simulated open world,” Cheng explained.

In his recent work, Cheng has drawn on principles of video game design, improvisation, and cognitive science to create computer simulations that explore an agent’s ability to cope with an ever-changing environment.

“Ian Cheng is at the forefront of art and technology, defining how the medium has shaped and continues to shape our world,” said The Shed’s chief curator, Emma Enderby. “His work confronts ongoing concerns about the relationship between bodily experience and cognitive experience. Life After BOB builds on Cheng’s ongoing exploration of the nature of mutation and the ability of humans to relate to change, both in the story and in the experience of the work itself. .

“Ian Cheng is a truly innovative artist and thinker who has expanded the realm of possibility with his practice,” noted Luma founder Maja Hoffmann. “Ian’s forward-looking approach is a constant inspiration to us. His work is groundbreaking and we are delighted to host the world premiere of his recent explorations at Luma Arles. The Luma Foundation, Luma Arles and I personally embraced Ian’s innovative thinking early in his career. It is a tremendous privilege to work with The Shed and LAS to support and present such a remarkable new commission.

“Artificial intelligence presents some of the most urgent and intriguing possibilities of our time,” added LAS Director Bettina Kames. “At LAS, we work with artists who push the boundaries between art and new technologies. So I’m thrilled to be working with Ian Cheng on this new project that uses cutting-edge technology to depict a provocative and unsettling imagined future, in which the line between humans and machines has become surprisingly blurred.

Source: The Shed


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