Jake Elwes at Zabludowicz Collection



Jake Elwes graduated from the Slade in 2017 and has already gained a reputation as a creative computer programmer. In contrast to the relentless razzmatazz going on in the rest of the building, his current work offers a beguiling and restful haven. We see an inlet of calm water punctuated by shallow outcrops of rocks. In the middle is a screen on which appears to stand, one at a time, a number of different marsh birds.


But the images we are seeing have been randomly created by a neural network, which has been trained to learn the visual and behavioural characteristics of these birds. In other words the images of the birds standing with their feet in the water on the screen are artificial and not real. The artist has taken his perspex screen out into the water and lodged it in the black and squelchy mud. The real birds were no doubt perplexed by the materialisation of these oversized intruders.


In an interview Elwes says that he thinks we are creating artificial intelligence in order to understand ourselves. This is an appealing idea and it relates to the myriad possibilities of the ways in which AI could and can serve us. What we get here is quite primitive and playful –but it works as art and interesting art at that. Elwes is an artist to watch.


Jake Elwes is at the Zabludowicz Collection, 176 Prince of Wales Road, London NW5 3PT until 28 April.






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