MoMA PS1 presents Ian Cheng’s (b. 1984) first US museum solo presentation, featuring the artist’s complete Emissary trilogy (2015–17), a series of live simulation works created using a video game engine. Described by the artist as “a video game that plays itself,” the works are comprised of computer-generated simulations like those used in predictive technologies for complex scenarios such as climate change or elections. Populated by a cast of characters and wildlife that interact, intervene, and recombine in open-ended narratives, Cheng’s simulations evolve endlessly as self-contained ecosystems. The exhibition Emissaries marks the completion of this series of works, which contemplate timeless questions about evolution, the origins of human consciousness, and ways of relating to a chaotic existence. The trilogy was recently acquired by The Museum of Modern Art and is on display for the first time at MoMA PS1.
Emissaries is presented as a large-scale installation that transforms the gallery into a portal-like environment for Cheng’s simulations to build, generate, regress, and progress. The 10-foot-tall projections allow each simulation to unfold at life-size, positioning viewers as observers who can follow the lives of specific characters as they interact within the simulated worlds and each other in an ever-changing environment.
The exhibition is extended into the digital space through a collaboration with Twitch, a social video platform and community for gamers. Over the course of the exhibition, all three works in the Emissary trilogy will be available for viewing on Twitch in unique versions that exist online only. The Twitch live stream of these works will also be on view in the gallery space, highlighting the iterative nature of these works across platforms both physical and virtual. Available for viewing continuously at www.twitch.tv/moma, Emissary In the Squat of Gods will stream from April 9 to May 22, Emissary Forks At Perfection from June 6 to July 24, and Emissary Sunsets the Self from August 8 to September 25.
Organized by Peter Eleey, Chief Curator, MoMA PS1, with Jocelyn Miller, Curatorial Associate, MoMA PS1.
Support is provided by the MoMA PS1 Annual Exhibition Fund.