BOB (aka Bag of Beliefs) is a sentient digital creature sprung from the imagination of New York-based artist Ian Cheng and fed, nurtured and controlled by army of real-life developers. BOB’s mutations are entirely composed of users of BOB Shrine (, a smartphone app that lets patrons assume a digital interface of BOB and manipulate its activity through multiple agencies of artificial mindsets that play out against each other. The resulting metamorphosis is visualized in real time via a grid of digital screens in the gallery. As the app creator, Cheng did provide a framework via a reddish-orange color scheme and basic snake-like forms but has little control over its compositional fallout. Far from a clever subterfuge, BOB announces a radical mode of art making by introducing art that has its own nervous system, that learns to adapt and develop on its own and which floats the subversive notion of absolving the artist from the consequences of his own creation. It profoundly changes the relationship between artwork and viewer, expands on the idea of the ready-made object, introduces the element of infinity and chaos into an artwork, and re-defines the traditional engagement between the artist and public. At Gladstone Gallery through March 23.