As the second edition of its Incubator commissions, X Virtual is delighted to present artist Lawrence Lek’s latest project, Theta’s World. Created on X Virtual’s multiplayer online platform, Theta’s World is an experimental video game that explores nonhuman consciousness, virtual cityscapes, and the storytelling through video game infrastructure. The work is built upon SimBeijing – a fictional smart city from the artist’s body of work Sinofuturism. Theta’s World immerses the player into the heart of SimBeijing, a fictional smart city brought into existence as a cradle and testbed for intelligent technologies, devoid of human life. The work sprawls an intricate world comprising three levels, varying in times of a day – from the ‘Looping City at Dawn,’ through the ‘Lattice City at Twilight,’ to the ‘Vertical City at Midnight.’ – each alluding to Theta’s dream states and consciousness evolution. Through the first player persona of Theta, a self-driving car dreaming about its life and choices within this city, the player embarks on an odyssey through a multitude of layered and increasingly complex narratives. Resonating with architect Lebbeus Woods’ methodology, Lek designed a cityscape which creates a mirroring effect of time, structure, and form that permeates through each level. Embedded within this urban fabric are scattered fragments of text, each whispering stories that shift and morph with every journey undertaken. The non-linear nature of these narrative threads grants every participant an unparalleled storytelling encounter. By bestowing dreams upon Theta, the consciousness, subjectivity and existence of machine are examined through a lens traditionally unexplored. Centering an AI entity in a world where only non-human life exists prompts us to contemplate the ethical intricacies inherent to such a reality. The online playable work will culminate in an immersive installation. The physical showcase of Theta’s World will be on view from August 2023 at X Museum in Beijing.