Jake Elwes’ new exhibition, ‘Data • Glitch • Utopia’ at Gazelli Art House, to explore AI and alternative queer futures

Graham Robson May 5, 2023

In their first solo exhibition at Gazelli Art HouseJake Elwes looks to demystify the black box of artificial intelligence.

In Data • Glitch • Utopia, which runs 2 June — 8 July, 2023, Jake brings together a body of work that demystifies, opens up, and plays with Artificial Intelligence (AI). From past to present, artworks range from digital pieces combining strange properties of data with human traces in technology, to more recent investigations seeking out alternative and more hopeful queer futures through AI and drag performance collaboration. The V&A commissioned Jake to make a new iteration of The Zizi Show in 2020. This exhibition at Gazelli coincides with a display of Elwes’ commission at the V&A, on view from May 2023 to February 2024.

Jake’s practice is based on their research into AI and Machine Learning, and instigates playful critiques of human and technological relationships via explorations into underlying codes, philosophies, and ethics. This show traces pathways through these technologies that offer insights and interventions into their dangers and potentialities.

© Jake Elwes, CUSP, still, 2019.

Dr Joe Parslow, a queer lecturer, writer, producer and researcher working at the intersection of queer popular performance and LGBTQ+ communities, said: “From the physical remnants of fingers across iPhone screens, and an algorithm’s filthiest imaginations, to the dragged out fantasies of queering datasets, Jake’s work illuminates the fleshy figurations and fantastic failures of these digital processes.”

Jake’s most recent projects explore the intersection of AI and drag performance. By including drag in the dataset as the ultimate form of gender nonconformity, subversion and celebration, they set out to investigate bias and queer representation in AI systems and research. This work is deeply collaborative, working with members (and legends) of London’s drag community to find ethical, unconventional, and joyful ways to play with AI, to drag it out of the black box to stage, screen, and gallery.

Jake’s work explores popular ways to stage artificial intelligence systems, allowing an inclusive entryway for diverse audiences to engage with the issues and conversations presented. Tracing eight years of work, from phone screen to cabaret stage and beyond, Data • Glitch • Utopia offers glimpses of messy manifestations of queer technological futures.

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