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Sarah Rothberg: New Meetings, Superprompt Edition, 2023


Sarah Rothberg

by Outland

In this virtual studio visit, Sarah Rothberg talks about her use of avatars to highlight the performative aspects of everyday technologies, as well as their underlying power dynamics. Her exhibition “Superprompt” at Bitforms in San Francisco last summer presented animations based on conversations with ChatGPT. The titular term describes blanket instructions that a chatbot follows throughout a conversation; Rothberg’s examples include “talk like a valley girl obsessed with the internet in 2005” or “speak in rhyme.” These superprompts force ChatGPT to inhabit other characters, which ultimately point to the status of its default personality as a kind of performance. The patterns and metaphors of ChatGPT’s “normal self” reveal the biases of its programmers.

Conducting the interview, Outland community manager Wade Wallerstein points out that Rothberg’s works often get at the ideologies and relationships implicit in common applications. New Meetings (2021–), for example, puts an animated skin on Zoom conversations, so that participants appear as 3D drawings who rise and fall depending on how much time they spend talking. Here and elsewhere, Rothberg’s use of avatars heightens the artifice of virtual environments, so as to highlight the constructs and attitudes that govern them.

Essays produced in a writing workshop hosted by Outland and Art Blocks offer new perspectives on art, code, and web3. The Generative Art Issue

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