The Nth Wave

2020

The Nth Wave is a multichannel generative video installation in which "waves" of fake, AI-generated tide pool images wash over real tide pool images sequentially across multiple screens and connected devices. Viewers can join the wave by connecting their mobiles to https://nth-wave.net. Tide pools exist in two environments, land and water, much how we exist in the real and virtual. It’s theorised they are where life emerged from the sea to evolve into the complex variety of species we see today. The Generative Adversarial Network that created these images followed an "evolutionary" process of its own. Exposed to a large number of photographs I took at the seaside, one part of the GAN created new images while another part attempted to discriminate the real from the fake: a sort of silicone survival of the fittest. It also used a lot of energy to compute them. Similarly, the power consumed to generate "deep fakes", bots, virtual assistants, and VR experiences creating our collective techno-illusion threatens to not only compete with the natural world for our attention and our concept of "truth" but to literally destroy it. Our technologies are slick and precise, and so it is usually the organic qualities of grittiness and unruly-ness we associate with the "real". Technology is just as capable of creating these qualities, and as we watch these convincing fake images wash over the real ones we can be lulled into forgetting which world is which.

The Nth Wave will be exhibited in Winter 2021