Ian Cheng: Emissaries @ MOMA PS1

June 23, 2017

In his first US museum solo exhibit, Ian Cheng’s Emissary trilogy will be shown in its entirety. A series of animations that question the connection between technology and human consciousness, the artist has described his work as a “video game that plays itself,” and the trajectory of these “live simulations” reaches beyond the control of the creator.

Cheng’s background at Industrial Light & Magic and his appreciation of film, combined with a contemporary approach to animation and video game production tools makes for a very media-focused vision that immediately attracts and mesmerizes. Cheng has his own mythology, and there is a deep and complex narrative in the trilogy, as it makes its way from the past to the future, invoking natural disasters, moral dilemmas, and the Shiba Emissary, a dog who communicates with viewers, attempting to control them. It’s appropriate that this epic, enveloping tale will be on view in the great, voluminous, hallowed halls of MoMA’s PS1, the museum’s space where avant garde work is housed in a former public school in Queens. —Kristin Farr