Ian Cheng
Life after BOB: The Chalice Study

9 Sept – 6 Nov 2022
Halle am Berghain

How will artificial intelligence transform the archetypal scripts that guide our lives?

Ian Cheng, Life After BOB: The Chalice Study, 2021.

LAS is pleased to partner with Luma Arles and The Shed on Life After BOB: The Chalice Study which will be presented in an international tour.

Imagine a future world in which your mind is no longer entirely your own but co-inhabited by an AI entity. Now imagine how life lived with an AI might transform the scripts that guide your sense of a meaningful existence.

In The Chalice Study, the first episode in Cheng’s newly commissioned and ongoing episodic anime series, neural engineer Dr. Wong has installed an experimental AI named BOB ('Bag of Beliefs') into the nervous system of his daughter Chalice. Designed to guide Chalice through the challenges of growing up in a volatile world, BOB confronts more and more of the conflicts in Chalice’s life on her behalf, while Chalice grows increasingly irrelevant and escapist. As Dr. Wong begins to favour the BOB side of his daughter, and as BOB threatens to do the job of living Chalice’s life better than she can, Chalice jealously wonders: What is left for her classic human self to do?

Life After BOB imagines new archetypal characters for our ever-weirdening times, and gives life to them through an experience that integrates authored cinematic storytelling with open-ended simulated worlding.”

Ian Cheng

With Life After BOB, Cheng bridges his interest in cinematic storytelling’s capacity to evoke deep psychological truths with simulation’s capacity to auto-generate emergent phenomena. In parallel with a cinematic presentation, an interactive “World Watching” presentation of Life After BOB will allow the viewer to pause the movie and freely explore the details of every scene at their own tempo. Finally, viewers are invited to learn more at the Life After BOB wiki, which catalogues characters and artifacts, flora and fauna, and every background detail seen in the episode. The viewer is invited to contribute to and edit this wiki. These edits in turn permanently modify the details on the World Watching screens, thereby extending Life After BOB into a new form of programmable narrative media.

“Artificial intelligence presents some of the most urgent and intriguing possibilities for our times. At LAS we work with artists pushing the boundaries between art and new technologies, so I’m delighted to be working with Ian Cheng on this new project which uses cutting-edge technology to describe a provoking and unsettling imagined future, one in which the line between humans and machines has become startlingly blurred.”

Bettina Kames, Director of LAS

Co-Commissioners

The Shed is a new cultural institution of and for the 21st century. We produce and welcome innovative art and ideas, across all forms of creativity, to build a shared understanding of our rapidly changing world and a more equitable society. In our highly adaptable building on Manhattan’s west side, The Shed brings together established and emerging artists to create new work in fields ranging from pop to classical music, painting to digital media, theatre to literature, and sculpture to dance. We seek opportunities to collaborate with cultural peers and community organisations, work with like-minded partners, and provide unique spaces for private events. As an independent nonprofit that values invention, equity, and generosity, we are committed to advancing art forms, addressing the urgent issues of our time, and making our work impactful, sustainable, and relevant to the local community, the cultural sector, New York City, and beyond.


A project of Luma Foundation, LUMA Arles is a creative campus located at the Parc des Ateliers (Arles, France). It is home to seven former railway factories, four of which have been renovated by Selldorf Architects as exhibition and performance spaces alongside a 15,000 square metres tower designed by Frank Gehry. As a centre of research, production and experimentation, LUMA Arles is an ecosystem where artists, thinkers, scientists and civil society stakeholders work together on advancing environmental issues, human rights, creative productions and education. Each year, a programme of exhibitions and cross-disciplinary projects is presented in the renovated galleries of the Grande Halle, the Forges, the Mécanique Générale and the Formation. On June 26th, 2021, the opening of the Luma Tower, the surrounding gardens and public park designed with landscape architect Bas Smets, will complete the transformation of the Parc des Ateliers.

Credits

Life After BOB is produced by Veronica So; with animation producer Nicholas Sung; technical producer Ivaylo Getov; editor Jess Fulton; cinematography by Eric Yue; animation supervisor Valerie Scheiber; sound design by Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr; and composer Brian Reitzell.

Featuring the voices of Poonam Basu, Cherami Leigh, Dana Lee, Gwendoline Yeo, Aly Mawji, Jennifer Swanner, and Sean Patton.

Research developed with The Transformations of the Human at the Berggruen Institute.

The interactive mobile application is supported by Leeum Museum of Art (Seoul).

Biography

Ian Cheng
Artist
Video

"My dream with any of the works I make is that you hold on to this fairytale as a new kind of archetype that you can think about and imagine as a way to kind of surf the chaos that we live in."

Ian Cheng on building worlds, fairytales and making Life after BOB: The Chalice study. A behind-the-scenes video for The Shed.

Ian Cheng, Life After BOB: The Chalice Study, 2021.

Article

"Like the rest of Cheng’s work, Life After BOB is brainy, techfocused and informed by cognitive psychology, neuroscience, machine learning and A.I."

The New York Times discussing Ian Cheng’s latest work Life after BOB, which was inspired by his newborn daughter.

Ian Cheng, Life After BOB: The Chalice Study, 2021.

Interview

"What if an AI could do the job of living your life better than you?"

Artist talk with Ian Cheng and Hans Ulrich Obrist (Serpentine Galleries, London), Vassilis Oikonomopoulos (Luma Arles) and Amira Gad (LAS, Berlin) at LUMA Westbau about Life After BOB: the Chalice Study and developing artworks as living organisms.

Ian Cheng, Life After BOB: The Chalice Study, 2021.

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