The Zizi Show is an interactive drag cabaret that uses deepfake, an artificial intelligence technique that can generate synthetic images. The project explores the intersection between performance drag, queer identities and the ways in which artistic practices can demystify artificial intelligence.
The show is presented as an interactive show in which a series of deepfake drags perform various songs. Jake Elwes and his team worked with a group of 13 drag queens and kings of various gender and sexual orientations from the London scene to create each character. By recording their performances, they compiled a video database which they used to train an artificial intelligence system capable of creating synthetic images. However, instead of chasing the photorealistic, seamless finish that tech companies and computer scientists often aspire to, the project explores the fractures that come from trying to represent impossible poses or multiple identities, as well as the production processes and aesthetics that emerge from them.
The collaborative creation of deepfakes as a celebration and recognition of identity sets up resistance to oppressive, exploitative practices prevailing through porn or fake news. Just as the drag community questions prevailing notions about gender, The Zizi Show questions and proposes an alternative to the tendency that artificial intelligence systems have towards normativity.
Born in 1993 in London, Jake Elwes is a multimedia artist who lives and works in London. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, where he is currently a lecturer. His recent work explores and investigates machine learning and artificial intelligence. In 2018 and 2021 his work was shortlisted for the Lumen Prize and has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, including ZKM and Frankfurter Kunstverein (Germany), TANK Museum and Today Art Museum (China), Centre for the Future of Intelligence, Edinburgh Futures Institute, Victoria and Albert Museum and Zabludowicz Collection (UK), Ars Electronica (Austria), LABoral Center (Spain), Nature Morte (India) or RMIT Gallery (Australia), among others.
Promoted by the Begihandi collective, GETXOPHOTO is a festival dedicated to image that takes place in Getxo (Basque Country) for the last 15 years. It brings different proposals from photographers and visual storytellers from all over the world to the city, setting a contemporary conversation about the theme proposed each year.
GETXOPHOTO inhabits the public space and continues supporting the use of formats, stands and unconventional exhibition spaces to show the different images. This is a thematic festival that every three years works together with a different curator who understands the photography as a tool of knowledge, communication, and of course artistic enjoyment. Exhibitions, installations, projections, collaborations, experimental laboratories and many activities complete the program of the Festival.
Jon Uriarte is the curator of GETXOPHOTO 2022.