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Ovid's Unicorn

 

Performed for Liquid Architecture, 2019

In 2019, an early artificial intelligence called GPT-2, produced a text describing the 'recent discovery of a breed of English-speaking unicorns in the Andes Mountains by Dr. Jorge Pérez, an evolutionary biologist from the University of La Paz'.

In Simulation 1.3 - Ovid's Unicorn a chorus of humans recite the text, embodying and disseminating this artificial history. In its most cynical form, this text can be read as an instance in which GPT-2 has written its own origin story through disturbing colonial allegory.

 

The unicorns are empowered through their learning of the English language, with Dr. Pérez stating, “They seem to be able to communicate in English quite well, which I believe is a sign of evolution, or at least a change in social organisation.”