As the second edition of the Incubator’s orders, X Virtual is pleased to present the latest project by artist Lawrence Lek, Theta’s world. Created on X Virtual’s online multiplayer platform, Theta’s world is an experimental video game that explores inhuman consciousness, virtual cityscapes, and storytelling through video game infrastructure. The work is based on SimBeijing, a fictional smart city by artist Sinofuturism.
Theta’s world immerses the player in the heart of SimBeijing, a fictional smart city that was created as a cradle and testing ground for intelligent technologies devoid of human life. The work extends to a complex world consisting of three levels, differing by the time of day – from “A looping city at dawn,” By “Lattice city at dusk“to”Vertical city at midnight– each referring to Theta sleep states and the evolution of consciousness. Taking on the role of the first player Theta, a self-driving car dreaming of his life and choices in this city, the player embarks on an odyssey through multiple layers and increasingly complex narratives.
Resonating with the methodology of architect Lebbeus Woods, Lek designed a cityscape that creates a mirror effect of time, structure and form that permeates each level. Embedded in this urban fabric are scattered bits of text, each whispering stories that change and evolve with each journey taken. The non-linear nature of these narrative threads provides each participant with an unparalleled storytelling experience. By bestowing dreams on Theta, consciousness, subjectivity, and machine existence are explored through a lens traditionally unexplored. Placing the AI entity in a world where only non-human life exists makes us wonder about the ethical complexities inherent in such a reality.
The playable online masterpiece will end with an immersive installation. A physical business card Theta’s world will be on display from August 2023 at the X Museum in Beijing.
Lawrence Lek is a filmmaker, musician and artist who combines diverse practices – architecture, games, video, music and fiction – into an ever-evolving cinematic universe. Over the past decade, Lek has incorporated his generation’s vernacular media, such as video games and computer-generated animation, into site-specific installations and digital environments, which he describes as “three-dimensional collages of found objects and situations.” Often featuring interwoven narratives and a recurring wanderer, his work explores the myth of technological progress in the era of artificial intelligence and social change.
Lek studied at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, Architectural Association in London and The Cooper Union in New York. Lek recently graduated with a PhD from the Royal College of Art in London. He has exhibited internationally with recent solo shows including Sadie Coles HQ, London (2023); QUAD, Derby (2022–3); ZiWU The Bund, Shanghai (2022); Prague Center for Contemporary Art, Prague (2019); HeK House of Electronic Arts, Basel (2019); Urbane Künste Ruhr, Essen (2019); and art space K11, Hong Kong (2018).
Launched by X Museum in 2019, X Virtual is a digital arts platform that is driving new 3D artistic spaces in virtual worlds. X Virtual provides a digital infrastructure – an interoperable network of virtual worlds that stimulates new artistic productions and critical practices. We commission artists to create an audiovisual space on the X Virtual online platform and organize online and offline exhibitions and virtual gatherings.
As a museum affiliated initiative dedicated to cultivating virtual worlds, X Virtual aims to foster new thought, discourses, and interdisciplinary practices in light of emerging Web 3.0-centric technologies, including XR, AI, and game engines. Working with digital creators from all walks of life, we are dedicated to building an accessible digital arts platform for rapidly evolving Web 3.0 virtual worlds for everyone.
To combine: https://xvirtual.org/thetas-world