Ian Cheng Emissary Forks at Perfection 2015 - 2016

  • Not on view

Emissary Forks at Perfection is the second in a trilogy of works that the artist has called “live simulations.” For this project, Cheng has manipulated existing video game technology using algorithms to create unique visualizations that unfold unpredictably and have no predetermined outcome. The works—which are presented as immersive video projections—feature an interrelated cast of characters, from robots to corgis, and populate the same geographic location across a long span of an imagined pre- and posthuman history.

The vibrant digital world in Emissary Forks at Perfection contains a lush crater lake inhabited by an advanced artificial intelligence and its prized pet Shiba Inu. Like other works in the series, the simulation is based on fragmented lines of code that behave like DNA, allowing elements to develop and self-generate. In Cheng’s open-ended environment, characters initiated by the artist coexist with organisms that have emerged organically from the parameters he created. Described by the artist as “a video game that plays itself,” the work contemplates the limitations of human consciousness in relation to the “smart” technologies that are rapidly becoming indispensable in our daily lives, alluding to the possibility of a future in which humanity is left behind.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Live simulation and story (color, sound)
Infinite duration
Fund for the Twenty-First Century
Object number
© 2023 Ian Cheng. Courtesy of the artist
Media and Performance

Research in progress; information about this work may be incomplete.

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