Jaynes, Mr. Cheng said, posits that ancient people weren’t conscious in the way that modern humans are. “You and I hear an internal voice and we perceive it to be a voice that comes from us,” Mr. Cheng says in the video. But Jaynes argued that those voices might well have been perceived as other people.
In that theory, Mr. Cheng explained in an interview, “The mind is actually composed of many sub-people inside of you, and any one of those people is getting the spotlight at any given time.” It’s a model of consciousness that is echoed in the film “Inside Out,” in which an adolescent girl’s mind comprises five different characters.
This conception of consciousness and motivation helped him build out the triad of digital simulations that were shown at MoMA PS1. In those works, Mr. Cheng created characters and landscapes, but the narrative that unfolds is beyond his control. He has referred to them as “video games that play themselves.”
Other artists featured in the series so far include Nancy Lupo, who explains how everyday objects like Rubbermaid garbage cans and disposable forks — so ubiquitous that they seem invisible to us — lead her to create elaborate and strangely disorienting installation works.
Heman Chong, the subject of the most recent installment, shares a diverting monologue about how his routine for writing affects the art he creates. Only one font will do.
At the Whitney Biennial in the spring, Jordan Wolfson provided a virtual-reality view of a brutal assault, which came with a content warning and which sharply divided viewers. In his video for the Swiss Institute, you can see him working on that piece, explaining how every choice he makes is aimed at heightening the emotional impact.
Coming installments in Season 2 will include the artists Amy Yao and Rachel Rose.
Another reason for the Swiss Institute to look outward is the fact that it currently has no exhibition space of its own. The institute is renovating a former bank building at 38 St. Marks Place and hopes to open that new home, on the corner of 2nd Avenue, in May.
In the meantime, it has been presenting gallery exhibitions far afield, from Zurich to New Glarus, Wis., a rural town that describes itself as “America’s Little Switzerland.” The effort has even taken to the skies, where passengers aboard Swiss International Air Lines flights can watch a selection of videos from the Visions series through the end of the year.
“Contemporary art in particular is often seen as being kind of elitist,” Ms. McLean-Ferris said, “and so we wanted to provide an access point of excitement.”