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Pilgrimage into Walden XII,

Chapter I: The Honor of Shepherds

6 live simulation softwares runs on computer

Infinite length

Miao Ying


“The Honor of Shepherds” takes place in a medieval magical fantasy land—Walden XII, created by Miao Ying, where a digital indulgence system is used. Walden XII refers to “Walden Two”, a utopian novel written by behavioral psychologist, B. F. Skinner about a society where perfect behavior is achieved as a result of reinforced positive conditioning of the desired behaviors, while meeting basic needs of citizens. In a structure similar to that of the medieval church, Walden XII is entitled to explain the ideological doctrine to its people and has implemented the technology to enforce citizen behavior, collect big data from its citizens, then rewards or punishes them according to their behavior score.

The work shows 6 Artificial Intelligence (AI) “Social Shepherds,” who represent different classes and different levels of Intelligence. Each of them is designed in a different sense:

  • The Fluorescent Anomaly, Brain Urban Migrant W0rk3R

  • The Grave Sage Brain of Division, Brain Outsourced Pr0l3tar1at

  • The Noxious High Priest Since 1949, Brain M4st3r

  • The Imaginary Hurricane, Brain W01f W4rr10r

  • The Tribune of Cruel Delights, Brain B0urg3o1s  

  • The Sophisticated King of the Night, Brain L1t3rat1

They are made to guard the Walden XII and shepherd the citizens—cockroaches, protect them from the demons and monsters from other kingdoms, such as “ Freedom Iceberg”.. Each shepherd brain is trained on millions of examples of human-like movement patterns as a metaphor for big data and are scored according to a deviation from a set of ideal expressions. The Shepherds try to minimize the difference between what they believe is a correct movement to express, and what is known to be the true movements shown in the data using neural network supervised learning. In addition, the characters must learn how to act correctly, while also accounting for the natural physics in the game world. Namely, not only must they behave a certain way, they must do so while using their own natural physics. During the simulation, the system samples, and tries to determine which ones are under performing. Those that are deemed unacceptable by the algorithm, have their neural network replaced, and the associated character model is discarded. Since the work is of live simulations, the AI brains appear each time differently. Walden XII could be a simulated technology plausible future to our reality. The AI were built as overly muscular heartthrobs, as a metaphor of Miao Ying’s Stockholm syndrome to centralized power.


Records of 6 simulation software and screen shots:

Brain M4st3r, The Noxious High Priest Since 1949

Brain M4st3r is the most correct brain, principle of all behavior, it has been training since 1949. He has been updated with the latest technology. He lives on a red boat where the Walden XII system was first designed. He oversees the medieval village and the other shepherds.


Brain B0urg3o1s, The Tribune of Cruel Delights

Brain B0urg3o1s is a legacy brain, pre-trained by  Brain M4st3r secretly. His scene is designed on the water and he is trying to escape “Walden XII”  to flee to “Freedom Iceberg,” where all the precious capital is. He has to hurry up because the iceberg is melting.


Brain L1t3rat1, The Sophisticated King of the Night

Brain L1t3rat1is the most well behaved AI in  “Walden XII”, he is a smart brain. He endorses the digital indulgence system because he has a very high score. He works inside of a dungeon where badly behaved coaches are kept and punished.


The Fluorescent Anomaly,Brain Urban Migrant W0rk3R

“The Fluorescent Anomaly,Brain Urban Migrant W0rk3R” is a youngster who has traveled very far from his home village to “Walden XII”. His identity has been lost since he doesn’t want to go back to his home village where life is too simple and he can never afford to have a home in  “Walden XII” by working in a labour factory. He likes fashion and has a style which is a mix of goth and punk and spends a lot of time on social media. His scene is built in the desert environment, where it is hard to see in distance with sand storms and pollution.


Brain Outsourced Pr0l3tar1at, The Grave Sage Brain of Division

Brain Outsourced Pr0l3tar1at, is a demon from “Freedom Iceberg” kingdom, he has a full time job as a farmer and has been exporting his crops to “Walden XII”. Although he is quite enthusiastic towards “Freedom Iceberg”, he is also against outsourcing and global kingdomism but he is not happy about the tariff war between the two kingdoms. His farm is located at The Grand Canyon.


Brain W01f W4rr10r, The Imaginary Hurricane

Brain W01f W4rr10r is a superhero of “Walden XII”. He is loyal to the “timeless principles of freedom, equality and justice.” With his super power, he assists other kingdoms as the world’s police, he helps to bring peace to them. He lives in a cave in the mountains.

Installation Views:
Anchor 1
Installation view at Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, Italy, 2022, Miao Ying

Installation view at Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, Italy, 2022, Miao Ying

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