Take a closer look at Robert Yang’s ‘Queer Crowd’ simulation video game about gardening


In ‘We Dwell in Possibility’, Yang’s free online experience invites us to plant suggestively shaped objects, flowers and trees among an interactive crowd of nude simulated AI characters – illustrated by Davis with parts of the randomly generated sexual bodies. The track is also composed by Manchester-based experimental electronic music producer aya, making it Yang’s most collaborative project to date.

While the simulation marks a departure from the New York game developer’s previous work – both in terms of gameplay, as a free browser experience, and visual style, from 3D realism to 2D illustration – she continues to wonder who is represented. and who is excluded from virtual spaces and the politics of digital architectures. Here it offers an alternative view to the usual heteronormative crowd simulations used by architects and town planners to create their own makeshift landscape.

“For this project, I also wanted to address a lack of politics in the art of crowd simulation and create a work of art rooted in a specific historical moment,” says Yang. “From this simple model of politics, sexuality and architecture, the simulation improvises a new landscape, a virtual heaven or hell, or more likely something of both – a society. “



From the simulation, We Dwell in Possibility © Robert Yang and Eleanor Davis

From the simulation, We Dwell in Possibility © Robert Yang and Eleanor Davis



From the simulation, We Dwell in Possibility © Robert Yang and Eleanor Davis

Yang was commissioned by the Festival to create a piece that responds to the architecture and artistic ambition of The Factory – the iconic cultural space that will be his future home. This is part of an ongoing series called Virtual Factory, which began in 2019 as part of MIF’s pre-factory program on the way to opening the factory to the public. Previous projects include The Neon Hieroglyph created by Turner Prize winner Tai Shani and Your Progress Will Be Saved by avatar artist LaTurbo Avedon in the Fortnite gaming platform, which has been visited by over 1.5 million people.

More Virtual Factory commissions will be released over the next 12 months, including a new project by Anglo-Nigerian artist and director Jenn Nkiru, whose global reputation has been cemented by her work on Beyoncé’s video Apeshit and Jay Z.

From the simulation, We Dwell in Possibility © Robert Yang and Eleanor Davis



From the simulation, We Dwell in Possibility © Robert Yang and Eleanor Davis

From the simulation, We Dwell in Possibility © Robert Yang and Eleanor Davis



From the simulation, We Dwell in Possibility © Robert Yang and Eleanor Davis

We Dwell in Possibility by Robert Yang (杨若波) is playable on virtual-factory.co.uk. While MIF21 runs through July 18 in person at indoor and outdoor venues across Manchester and online with a dynamic program of new original works from across the spectrum of visual and performing arts and music, by artists from more than 20 countries.

Robert Yang, courtesy of the artist



Robert Yang, courtesy of the artist