For its third exhibition produced in the framework the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s “Hors-les-murs” program, the Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia is pleased to present American artist Ian Cheng’s Emissary Forks At Perfection. The Fondation Louis Vuitton’s “Hors-les-murs” program showcases previously unseen holdings of the Collection at the Espaces Louis Vuitton in Tokyo, Munich, Venice and Beijing, thus carrying out the Fondation’s intent to realize international projects and make them accessible to a broader public.
Since the 2010s, Cheng has been developing a unique artistic body of work involving self-generating digital simulations in the form of large, immersive, audio-visual projections. His works, a blend of cognitive sciences, computer programming and video-game aesthetics, explore the potential of new technologies with sensitivity and acuity.
Cheng develops ecosystems, virtual biotopes populated by animated, mutant creatures. As entomologist-demiurge, he breathes artificial and autonomous life into his worlds, then watches them evolve. As in nature, these microcosms are composed of elements of individual logic that meet, collide and mingle in evident, but organic, chaos.
These beings take animal, vegetable or mineral form and are programmed with an array of predetermined properties, behaviours and intentions. They then freely move about in the complex universe created by the artist. Escaping the power of their inventor, their trajectories and encounters – with one another and their environment – are random, allowing for infinite potentialities.
Cheng’s self-evolving and dynamic work-worlds are not temporally bound: they unfold live across an unlimited time period. Automated camera movements focus on the areas of greatest activity, arbitrarily guiding the observer from one place to the next in the simulation. Each activation is unique, generating new narratives and spontaneous developments that cannot be anticipated.
The video installation Emissary Forks at Perfection (2015-2016) is the second chapter of the Emissaries trilogy created by Cheng between 2015 and 2017. These three episodes, located in the same space but addressing different eras, trace the evolution of ensembles of beings and the way they adapt to their environment. Each features an “emissary”, a “narrative agent”, whose actions will modify the course of events. With Emissary Forks at Perfection, Cheng leads us to question the human mind’s adaptive capacities and human evolution in the face of otherness, randomness and the unpredictability of an ever-changing world.