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Opening September 22, 2017
Forum Gallery, Carnegie Museum of Art
Pittsburgh, PA…Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) announces a solo exhibition by Ian Cheng (b. 1984). Cheng presents Emissary Sunsets The Self, an open-ended digital simulation displayed on a massive, 13 foot-wide LED screen in CMOA’s Forum Gallery. The artist is best known for his digital simulation works that draw on his background in cognitive science and employ rudimentary forms of artificial intelligence (AI). Coding these unpredictable animated worlds from the ground up, he uses the language of video games to probe complex themes such as evolution, human behavior, and the history of consciousness.
Emissary Sunsets The Self is the third work in the artist’s Emissaries trilogy (2015–2017). Each simulation in the series—set on the same volcanic site separated by thousands of years—explores a pivotal moment in Cheng’s interpretation of cognitive evolution, past and future. His protagonists, or Emissaries, are equipped with a unique AI composed of multiple competing inner models, allowing them to shape—and be shaped by—their strange environments as they work to accomplish narrative tasks.
“In each episode,” Cheng writes, “the Emissary—caught between unraveling old realities and emerging weird ones—attempts to achieve a series of deterministic narrative goals, an analogy to the narrative nature of consciousness. But crucially these goals can be set off course, procrastinated, disrupted by the underlying simulation and its non-narrative agents who vex the Emissary with other kinds of minds.”
Emissary Sunsets The Self takes place many millennia in the future on a volcanic atoll now under the control of MotherAI. We observe the confrontation between radical mutations in the sentient atoll and the local inhabitants who were long ago engineered to immunize the landscape from monstrous deviations.
Read about the Emissaries series, including narratives, technical overview, and behavior diagrams, at the artist’s website.
This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of AVS, Ltd.
General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. The programs of the Heinz Architectural Center are made possible by the generosity of the Drue Heinz Trust. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Carnegie Museum of Art
Carnegie Museum of Art enriches people’s lives through art. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. We champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Our core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. Our world-class collection of over 30,000 works emphasizes art, architecture, photography, and design from the 19th century to the present. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. Learn more: call 412.622.3131 or visit cmoa.org.