Ian Cheng

2 Mar-6 Apr 2023
PV 2 Mar 2023, 6-8pm

Pilar Corrias, Conduit Street
London W1S 2YT


Pilar Corrias is pleased to present THOUSAND LIVES, an exhibition of new work by Ian Cheng.

The exhibition features two projects: Life After BOB: The Chalice Study (2022), a 50min real-time anime, and Thousand Lives (2023), a new simulation. Featuring Chalice’s pet turtle, Thousand, a key character in Life After BOB, Thousand Lives extends the metaversal world of Life After BOB.

Life After BOB: The Chalice Study is the first episode in an anime mini-series produced using the Unity video game engine and presented in real-time. It imagines a future world in which the internet extends into our nervous system, psychotropic foods unify physical and psychic realities, AI entities co-inhabit human minds, and anomie reigns. In episode one – The Chalice Study – neural engineer Dr. Wong installs an experimental AI named BOB into the nervous system of his ten-year-old daughter Chalice. Designed to guide Chalice through the challenges of growing up in an ever-changing world, BOB confronts more and more of the conflicts in Chalice’s life on her behalf. 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 wonders: what is left for her classic human self to do?

Thousand Lives is a simulation that dramatises the daily life of Chalice's pet turtle, Thousand. Thousand is driven by an inferential AI model – first explored in Cheng’s 2019 work BOB (Bag of Beliefs) – that attempts to reconcile Thousand’s internal urges with the affordances (and threats) of Chalice’s apartment environment. Thousand must learn the relevance of all it encounters, minimise upsets to its expectations and construct new motives to satisfy its competing urges. Every perception, inference, motive, decision and action form the ongoing drama of Thousand’s lifetime in a new kind of ‘slow story’ achieved only via simulation. The sporadic appearances of Chalice challenge Thousand’s AI model, demanding adaptations to the disruption of its routine.



Screening times for Life After BOB

Gallery 2 (downstairs) 


Worldwatching mode: 10am–2pm

Cinema mode: 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm


Worldwatching mode: 11am–2pm

Cinema mode: 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm


Installation views