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Human Zoo
Wassaic Project
Haunted Mill 2023

Exhibition Statement

               Upon approaching the exhibit, the visitor is presented with two identical doors- labeled simply “1” and “2.” If you choose one, you enter into a white-washed hallway declaring “THE HUMAN EXHIBIT.” Infographics with human facts and statistics are displayed on the walls, all written entirely by Chat GPT. As you walk through the exhibit hallway and round the corner, you encounter viewing windows displaying “THE HUMAN HABITAT,” complete with live humans inside. At the end of the exhibit, a mounted tv plays a video showcasing “THE HISTORY OF HUMANS,” with a narrated script written by AI and paired visual images generated by Dall-E. Be sure to explore the human cubbyhole to get a closer look into the habitat on your way out!


               If you choose two, you enter into what appears to be an apartment- complete with music playing, and calming blue carpeting and walls. You walk inside, take a seat in the cozy chair, gaze upon the landscape painting on the wall. Suddenly, you feel eyes on you. You look up to see faces peering through hung picture frames-watching you. You notice the TV is not a TV at all, but another viewing window with faces watching you. A bowl of candy is there for you to take a treat. Relax, and welcome to the Human Habitat. 


                The Human Zoo is an exhibit designed in collaboration between myself and AI. I asked Chat GPT what they would include in a human zoo, and what information would be important to share in an exhibit about humans, and then I created a physical interpretation of their directives. In the process of prompting and editing and interpreting the generated AI content, the artist collaborates with AI to create something new, yet derivative. The push and pull between human free will and AI generated content is ever present,  and the initial exercise in door choosing autonomy serves as a reminder of who currently holds the power (for now). 


Here, visitors engage in a learning experience about themselves (humans), as theoretically constructed by AI, yet interpreted and built through my human hands. As AI designs an enclosure made for us to learn about ourselves, it regurgitates back our own normalized brutality. In this friendly, zoo format, humans are leveled as another living creature to exploit and wonder at- all of us non-machines. Through the refractory, imperfect lens of AI, can we actually learn more about what it means to be human? In this absurdist, fact-check prompting cluster of puzzling factoids written by AI, are we reminded how incompetent and dominatable AI actually is? Or is this playful, bizarre showcase a marker of infantile AI, before it became the all powerful overlord it predicted in its own human history video?

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