Ian Cheng

bbrraattss, 2012
director: IAN CHENG

video courtesy the artist

In his vibrant image world, born from the encounter between physical human behaviors and virtual environments, IAN CHENG‘s motion-capture* video works tell seemingly familiar narratives (such as a car accident, a street fight or a rabbit hunt) that he dissolve and recompose, thanks to his brilliant computer skills, into new carefully directed choreographies.

When you push a technology to do what it’s not supposed to do, you realize how painfully dumb that technology actually is. (…) Ultimately I’m interested in a type of hybrid cinema – where there’s a real performance that you’re able to map into a world you can fully control. Directing an actor in real space, who has real feedback with objects, allows you to be very physical. Afterwards, when editing this physical record, you’re able to compose sequences of gestures and movements in 4D space. – IAN CHENG in conversation with KARI RITTENBACH, published in Frieze #155, May 2013

By recording the sounds and movements that will subsequently fuel his works, snapshots of life arranged in contexts become snapshots of an altered reality and sometimes a reflection of the subconscious.

IAN CHENG (1984) studied Cognitive Science at UC Berkeley before working at Industrial Light & Magic. He received an MFA from Columbia University in 2009. In 2012, he was included in the group exhibition A Disagreeable Object at SculptureCenter, New York and this year in HMV at Foxy Productions, New York. Solo exhibitions in 2013 include The Vanity, Los Angeles, and Off Vendome, Düsseldorf, Germany. His work will feature in the 12th Lyon Biennial (12 September – 29 December), France. And good news: his work ENTROPY WRANGLER is currently on view at MoMA PS1 during the ProBio, Expo 1 till 2 September.

Make sure to watch also the music video for Liars’ Brats

* Motion Capture is a recording process that registers the physical movements of the performer absent the image of the performer. The recorded movements are then translated onto a digital body. Working with a choreographer, a performer, and a small team of motion capture technicians, CHENG has configured the motion capture process into a format for recording a visceral, incomplete memory. Placing the performer under a matrix of contradictory choreographies, a debased narrative, whiskey, and technical bondage, an ancient horrifying physicality is registered in the virtual environment as a sequence of legible movements punctuated by impossible gestures and gross deformations. In this space, motion becomes a new material.



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  1. […] CHENG, whose work I’ve mentioned before, is now presenting the exhibition BABY FEAT. BALI at Standard (Oslo), Norway as well as the […]