Ian Cheng (American, born in 1984), Still from Emissary Sunsets The Self, 2017. Live simulation and story. Courtesy of the artist, Pilar Corrias, Gladstone Gallery, Standard (Oslo). William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund, 2019.200
More Arts Programming at Stanford
Check out the upcoming programs from some of our arts partners within Stanford‘s Vice Presidency for the Arts.
Ian Cheng: Emissary Sunsets The Self
The projection installation Emissary Sunsets The Self explores cognitive evolution and the conditions that shape it. Created with a video game engine, the work generates open-ended animations without fixed outcomes––a format the artist calls “live simulation.” Ian Cheng, who studied cognitive science and art practice, utilizes a range of artificial intelligence (AI) models to mimic humans’ complex brains and enable unpredictable encounters between a character with a narrative goal and an erratic environment.
Ian Cheng (American, born in 1984), Clip from Emissary Sunsets The Self, 2017. Live simulation and story. Courtesy of the Artist, Pilar Corrias, Gladstone Gallery, Standard (Oslo). William Alden Campbell and Martha Campbell Art Acquisition Fund, 2019.200
Emissary Sunsets The Self takes place thousands of years in the future, in an environment governed by a liquid, sentient AI. The creature sends a puddle of itself into the bio-layer to experience incarnate life, occasioning the emergence of the emissary puddle’s own self-awareness. While fantastical, Cheng’s artwork demonstrates the value of simulations to making the intricate and complex systems undergirding human life comprehensible.
This acquisition is part of the Asian American Art Initiative, which is dedicated to the collection, preservation, research, and public presentation of Asian American/diaspora artists and makers.
Reaching Towards Warmer Suns
July 23, 2021–December 5, 2021
Kiyan Williams is a visual artist and writer from Newark, NJ who works fluidly across performance, sculpture, video, and 2D realms. Rooted in a process-driven practice, they are attracted to quotidian, unconventional materials and methods that evoke the historical, political, and ecological forces that shape individual and collective bodies.
Kiyan Williams’ Reaching Towards Warmer Suns, 2020 is a public work on view on the grounds of the Anderson Collection, among a grove of oak trees. The piece was originally installed along the banks of the Powhatan River (James River) in Richmond, Virginia where some of the first enslaved Black people touched land in the new/ruined world. The work is made of soil from the river and emerged from artist and Stanford alum Kiyan Williams' time along the slave docks of Virginia within the context of the pandemic and protests against on-going anti-Black police violence. Williams explained how the sculpture arose from a need to mark the paths of slavery as sacred, and "memorialize on-going struggles of self-determination for Black people.”
Image by Mark DiConzo
You can watch Notes on Digging, a video of the artist speaking about Reaching Towards Warmer Suns here.
You can listen to an audio guide that accompanied this piece when it was installed at Socrates Sculpture Park here.
Listen to the artist’s video of poet Lucille Clifton reciting her poetry among the backdrop of Reaching Towards Warmer Suns here.
This installation is made possible by the Anderson Collection; the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity; the School of Humanities and Sciences; the Office of the Vice President for the Arts; and the Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.