Martha Rettig


Co-Director, Dynamic Media Institute

What Happened? is an exploration of the opportunities, capabilities, and challenges of the new machine learning  LLM (large language models). These artificial intelligence tools entered the fray in 2022 and exploded into public consciousness via ChatGPT at the start of 2023. They are on a path to become pervasive in our day-to-day life, with the promise of generating content and answering questions in a way indistinguishable from humans. While it might be tempting to identify and scrutinize the visible flaws that distinguish LLM content from actual human creation, this project  asks us to look for the unseen. Because LLMs rely on large quantities of data for training they are making predictions based off of what they have been fed, which means they can perpetuate our histories of racism, sexism, bias and many forms of injustice. What Happened? asks GPT-3 and Stable Diffusion to contemplate hypothetical futures driven by our concerns of today. It draws attention to how the unseen past impacts our understanding of the present and envisioning of the tomorrow. Positioning AI as storyteller and artist, this system invites participants to be playful, inquisitive, and speculative of the role it plays in our lives today and in the future.

Martha Rettig is a designer, experimenter, and immersive artist whose work explores the analog to digital continuum while scrutinizing technology and its messaging. Her work ranges from weaving, to letterpress to augmented reality and covers topics from political discourse to gender bias in artificial intelligence. Her experience crosses many disciplines, including design concept, visual design, interactive design, interface design, data visualization, experience design, and mixed reality.¬† She co-founded an interactive design agency, Cykod, in 2006 building digital solutions around the world. Martha currently is an Associate Professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design teaching in the undergraduate Graphic Design department and the Co-Director of the college’s Dynamic Media Institute MFA program.