2020, interactive performance
Drag Queens, Drag Kings, Drag Things and Artificial Intelligence…
The Zizi Show (2020) is a deepfake drag cabaret, a virtual online stage hosting a groundbreaking new show with a twist. It features acts that have been constructed using deepfake technology, learning how to do drag by watching a diverse group of human performers. The Zizi Show dissects one of the dominant myths about AI, the notion that 'an AI' is a thing we might mistake for a person.
The bodies in the show have been generated by neural networks trained on a community of drag artists who were filmed to create training datasets at a London cabaret venue closed during COVID-19. During each act audiences are invited to interact with the website and play with which deepfake bodies perform which songs. At times this breaks down when the A.I. tries to conceive impossible positions or combines multiple different queer identities; it can even reveal the skeleton tracking the deepfake is built on. The deepfakes were created collaboratively in celebration, resisting the exploitative and oppressive nature of deepfakes. The Zizi Show constructs and then deconstructs a virtual cabaret that pushes the limits of what can be imagined on a digital stage.
More information at zizi.ai/about and on The New Real
The Zizi Project (2019 - ongoing) is a collection of works by Jake Elwes exploring the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and drag performance. Drag challenges gender and explores otherness, while A.I. is often mystified as a concept and tool, and is complicit in reproducing social bias. Zizi combines these themes through a deepfake, synthesised drag identity created using machine learning. The project explores what AI can teach us about drag, and what drag can teach us about A.I.
CastBolly-Illusion | Cara Melle | Chiyo | Dakota Schiffer
Part of The New Real by Edinburgh Futures Institute at Edinburgh International Festival.