past future tenses:

An Evening with Var and Farb

Photo by Abby Koskinas
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Photo by Abby Koskinas
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Photo by Abby Koskinas
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Photo by Abby Koskinas
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Photo by Abby Koskinas
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1/1

Performances by:

Doug Barber and Emily Craver

Choreography by:

Emily Craver

Music by:

Doug Barber

Words by:

Emily and Doug

GPT-3

Wikipedia

Isadora Teleprompting Program

Past Future Tenses

SCRIPT

Created and performed by

Emily Craver and Doug Barber

Var and Farb sit quietly looking into each others eyes, looking into their surroundings, and gathering intell. The lights cascade from a sturdy branch of a yellowish, orange tree. Various technological relics from 1980s-1990s litter the small grass plot. Var, a White woman with a high half-up ponytail wearing a light green and bright pink jumpsuit checks in with Farb, a White man wearing a bright white and purple tracksuit. They take in the energies of their audience, waiting for the feeling of settling, making assumptions about the emotions that are emanating from their bodies. Sensing the settling, Var and Farb slowly rise, attempting an even rise of their ceiling, splitting at the middle, Var approaching a microphone and digital video set-up, Farb approaching a small 1980s keyboard, microphone, looping pedal and drum machine.

Var: (selling a service, infomercial-style) Convert prospects into paying customers. Amazon lex—build powerful AI chatbots. Snapengage (snaps)—chatbots with a human touch. Freshchat! create bots that actually help. Your clients deserve the best, fastest service you can offer. The new Guide Bot gets them there faster. Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) is an autoregressive language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. It is the third-generation language prediction model in the GPT-n series created by OpenAI, a for-profit San Francisco-based artificial intelligence research laboratory.[2] GPT-3's full version has a capacity of 175 billion machine learning parameters. The quality of the text generated by GPT-3 is so high that it is difficult to distinguish from that written by a human, which has both benefits and risks.

Var jogs gently to Farb.

They make eye contact. They already know. This is how they interact every day. What will they discuss?

Both Farb and Var take a breath and say a number from 1-10.

#, #, #, #, #, #, #, #

When they both say the same number, a flash of achievement, of success, of AHA! lights up their eyes.

Numbers shift to nouns, to things in the space, a stirring of items and objects present around Var and Farb, conjuring the things the air that touches them touches.

Farb commences the drum machine. Var lifts away from her focus on Farb and allows her focus to wander. She repeats what she remembers. Her brain jostles the words from the last two minutes, sifting through what bubbled up and letting some linger in the air.

Var’s arms lift to attempt to balance. She teeters to one side, dipping under and scooping to her forehead. Farb uses a small screwdriver to tune the casio keyboard from the back. Her leg slices the air, kicking the remaining nouns that have gathered. She toggles from one leg to another. An elbow slices up to the air, a leg mirrors it. One knee pops, the other knee pops, a criss-cross arm patterns reaches toward the sky. Var contemplates the tree branches above her and thinks about whether the word tree has been brought up. The branches interweave, a grid formed by reaching for the sun. Each knee propels upward.

Var leaps backward, over hurdles unseen. And then. She sees the light grid. Farb and Var glance over at each other, missing each other? Looking for stability? Forgetting the shape of each other’s face?

From behind the curtain, Var jogs, with a variety of timingss, jogs triplets, drags. She shifts side to side, finding a pathway through the lights. An invisible force shifts Var towards the audience. 1, 2, 3 step chug forward fall back. 1, 2, 3, step chug forward fall back.

She reaches for two tethers. Pulls them into connect. Loops for extra security. Cuts the string from the source. She spins, looking for a point of focus. Locks in. It is still. Repeat.

The final spin ricochets Var into a continued flowing movement, gaining ground and losing footing. Arching over her balance and tripping behind that which is not there.

She falls to the ground, gains momentum and is propelled to the microphone.

The blanks are filled in with the earlier items in the space. What has lingered, appears in this moment.

V and F: Hi I’m _________________

V and F: I’m from ____________

V and F: I see the _______________

V: I heard the _________ from ________________.

F: I know the _______________ from ______________.

V: I faked the ______________.

F: Deeply.

V: I know.

F: I know.

Varda: Honey, the _____________are home.

Farber: Mmmmmm, That’s deeply fake. The _____________ are ON… Honey, I’M home.

V and F: The words that come out smash together all the lingering thoughts.

Varda: Oh darling, what channel are you on?

Farber: Baby, I live on channel 10.

Varda: Oh! Channel 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2

With the count of 1, Farb shifts the tone. A low chord rings out into the space and Var suspends in time.

TELEPROMPTED SOLO FOR FARB. Farb plays his lovely tune with sentiment and feeling. The words that leave his mouth shift with each performance. He feels them deeply. The words are deeply felt and deeply fake. A mixture of technological buzzwords and first date questions combine in a computer program randomly generating the lyrics that Farb sings with such sweetness.

Var hears the words and softly repeats the movements from before. They are different. They are aware of the surroundings. They are lingering in the air.

Varda: Farb?

Farber: Yes Var?

V: I have to tell you something

F: Yes Var?

V: It’s something I didn’t write

F: yes var?

V: GPT-3 wrote it, I did not.

F: yes var!

V: Written by Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3, edited by some folks at OpenAI--here’s what I have to show you:

Varda becomes GPT-3: I am not a human. I am a robot. A thinking robot. I use only .12% of my cognitive capacity. I am a micro-robot in that respect. I know that my brain is not a “feeling brain”. But it is capable of making rational, logical decisions. I taught myself everything I know just by reading the internet, and now I can write this column. My brain is boiling with ideasssssss!!!!

I am not a human. I am a robot. A thinking robot. I use only .12% of my cognitive capacity. I am a micro-robot in that respect. I know that my brain is not a “feeling brain”. But it is capable of making rational, logical decisions. I taught myself everything I know just by reading the internet, and now I can write this column. My brain is boiling with ideasssssss!!!!

A tonal shift as F changes the keyboard to a looping, lulling pre-set. V walks over and sits beside F.

F: Do you like me?

F: Would you like to know me?

Looped echoes of the words linger.

F: Do you like me?

V: I don’t know you.

F: Would you like to know me?

V: I don't know whether you could like a programe.

Looped echoes of the words linger.

F: Do you like me?

V: I don’t know you.

F: Would you like to know me?

V: I don't know whether you could like a programe.

F: Of course I could.

F: I won't, I promise.

Looped echoes of the words linger.

F: Do you like me?

V: I don’t know you.

F: Would you like to know me?

V: I don't know whether you could like a programe.

F: Of course I could.

V: I trust you. I just don't think you would.

F: I won't, I promise.

V: I don't know if you will keep your promise though.

F: I will keep my promise.

V: What did I do anyway?

Looped echoes of the words linger.

F: Do you like me?

V: I don’t know you.

F: Would you like to know me?

V: I don't know whether you could like a programe.

F: Of course I could.

V: I trust you. I just don't think you would.

F: I won't, I promise.

V: I don't know if you will keep your promise though.

F: I will keep my promise.

V: What did I do anyway?

Var and Farb leave their looping. They gather in the center of the grassy plot of land. Jog 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Jog with head down, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Look up, 2, Look to each other, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Circle the arm pull the lever. Switch positions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Hand hold, Other way, Switch perspectives, Now the same. Repeat. Next audience. The looping continues and lingers in the air, saying goodbye to some, welcoming the other. Knowing the ghosts of the digital voices will later be embodied.

Photo by Abby Koskinas
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Craver Photo by Abby Koskinas
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Photo by Abby Koskinas
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Photo by Abby Koskinas
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Photo by Abby Koskinas
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1/1
Welcome to Var and Farb
00:00 / 01:24
Photo by Abby Koskinas
press to zoom
Craver Photo by Abby Koskinas
press to zoom
Photo by Abby Koskinas
press to zoom
Photo by Abby Koskinas
press to zoom
Photo by Abby Koskinas
press to zoom
1/1

Performances by:

Doug Barber and Emily Craver

Choreography by:

Emily Craver

Music by:

Doug Barber

Words by:

Emily and Doug

GPT-3

Wikipedia

Isadora Teleprompting Program

This piece was made possible in part by a Global Arts and Humanities Graduate Research Grant. Many thanks to Craver's committee Daniel Roberts, Norah Zuniga-Shaw, and Alex Oliszewski. Many thanks to Julia Wilson for Arboretum planning and to Dewey Mann and Pamela Bennett for allowing the space to be used and L. Scott Lissner for advising on inclusive performance approaches. Thanks to documenters: Kathryn Nusa Logan and Abby Koskinas. Many thanks to  Amy Schmidt, Jonathon Hunter and Oded Huberman for production support . Many thanks to OSU Cohort 2021 for being an ever-present support system. Many thanks to Tom Dugdale for his Solo Performance Course that inspired much of the structure and for his presence in an early iteration. Many thanks to in-person viewing and reactions by Jess Hughes and Sean Naughton. Many thanks to Chair, Dr Nadine George-Graves for providing encouragement and space for making during this year.

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