Jake Elwes, Digital Caress, 2015, and Machine Learning Porn, 2016 22.09. – 13.10.2019 | Photoforum Pasquart


From Digital Caress, direct to media prints on perspex, 2015 © Jake Elwes
Machine Learning Porn, video still, digital video, 12:00 min., 2016 © Jake Elwes

In his photo series Digital Caress, Jake Elwes documents the smudges and fingerprints left on the touchscreens of our digital devices. These traces reveal the intimate gestures that make our networked social interactions. Whether it's swiping on Tinder profile images, pinching and zooming on pictures, or editing one’s photos and videos, these smeared surfaces reflect our often obsessive, sometimes addictive and perhaps compulsive relationships with interactive technologies of seeing and visual mediation.

In Elwes’ video Machine Learning Porn, the pornographic drive is outsourced to the machine and the relationship between human and technological agent is inverted. Using Yahoo’s content model for identifying pornography, the artist was able to create a database of thousands of graphic images which trained a neural network to create pornographic imagery from scratch. Through a 12-minute loop, the work reveals pornography as the result of reciprocal exchanges and feedback loops between human and machine vision, but also censorship and desire, fantasy and abstraction.

More by Jake Elwes: jakeelwes.com