"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."