Prometheus Firebringer2023

“What shall I do?” is a question at the heart of every Greek tragedy, observes philosopher Simon Critchley. When there are no good options, when every course of action comes with unbearable costs, how do you choose? This question inspires Prometheus Firebringer, which continues Dorsen’s exploration of the ambiguous impacts of technology.

In ancient Greek mythology, Prometheus stole the gods’ fire to give to humans—sparking sudden and dramatic advances in technology and the arts, and dramatic new sources of conflict. His story is told in the 2500-year-old Prometheia trilogy attributed to Aeschylus, of which only Prometheus Bound remains in full.

In Prometheus Firebringer, Dorsen uses the predictive text model GPT-3 (a precursor to ChatGPT) to generate speculative versions of the missing story. Each night a chorus of AI-generated Greek masks performs a different iteration, while Dorsen engages the audience in reflections on power, knowledge, and doubt.

Although the explosion of artificial intelligence technology into our daily lives feels unprecedented and new, Dorsen asks if we have been here before. She reflects openly on her influences, standing in contrast to how the black box of AI operates. How do we decide to act when we can’t trust our sources? And who do we become in the face of a technology controlled by a select few, especially when its workings remain a mystery?


Annie Dorsen
sound design
Ian Douglas-Moore
video & systems design
Ryan Holsopple
lighting design/technical direction
Ruth Waldeyer
software design and programming
Sukanya Aneja
Okwui Okpokwasili, Livia Reiner
3D artist
Harry Kleeman
Tom Sellar
Natasha Katerinopoulos
photo by Johanna Austin
photo by Maria Baranova
photo by Maria Baranova
photo by Maria Baranova
photo by Maria Baranova
photo by Maria Baranova


"Quietly stunning…dense and yet lucid…harrowing and playful… brilliantly constructed"

Sara Holdren,
"Prometheus Firebringer” is a battle royale over how to create (apparent) meaning. … Annie Dorsen… is warm and thrilling… She predicts the rise of the soulless art product—and handily demonstrates its defeat"

Helen Shaw,
"Dorsen’s lecture is forcefully beneficial as an examination of our obeisance to technology"

Laura Collins-Hughes,
"Intellectually stimulating, and terrifically clever"

Jonathan Mandell,