Dr. Zach Blas is an artist and writer whose practice engages technology, queerness, and politics. Blas’s recent works respond to technological control, biometric governmentality, and network hegemony. Facial Weaponization Suite (2011-14) consists of “collective masks” that cannot be detected as human faces by biometric facial recognition software. Contra-Internet (2014-present) explores subversions of and alternatives to the internet and is supported by a 2016 Creative Capital award in Emerging Fields.
Blas has exhibited and lectured internationally, most recently at ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; New Museum, New York; Dak’Art, Dakar; and transmediale, Berlin. Recent residencies include Eyebeam in New York, The Moving Museum Istanbul, and the Delfina Foundation in London.
Currently, Blas is producing two books, Escaping the Face, an artist monograph to be published by Rhizome and Sternberg Press, and Informatic Opacity: The Art of Defacement in Biometric Times, a theoretical study that considers biometric facial recognition as an emerging form of global governance alongside aesthetico-political refusals of recognition, such as masked protest. His work has been written about and featured in Artforum, Frieze, Art Review, Art Papers, Hyperallergic, Mousse Magazine, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera America, and Wired.
- Ph.D., Program in Literature, Duke University (2014)
- M.F.A., Design Media Arts, University of California, Los Angeles (2008)
- Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio, Art and Technology Studies, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2006)
- B.S., Film, Boston University (2004)
From 2014-15, Blas was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University at Buffalo in New York, where he served as faculty on the M.F.A. program in Studio Art and the Ph.D. program in Visual Studies. Since joining Goldsmiths in 2015, Blas teaches four undergraduate modules: “Feminist and Queer Technoscience,” “The Aesthetics and Politics of the Face,” “The Arts of Surveillance,” and “After the Internet.” In 2010, Blas co-founded the Durham, North Carolina branch of The Public School, an experimental, artist-run educational center that is free and open to the public.
Areas of supervision
Blas mentors artists and scholars in the areas of art and technology, media theory, science and technology studies, queer and feminist theory, contemporary art and activism, surveillance studies, and political philosophy.
- Electronic Superhighway, curated by Omar Kholeif, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (group exhibition, 2016)
- Imaginary Accord, curated by Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (group exhibition, 2015)
- Theory of Colour, curated by Cuauhtémoc Medina, Helena Chávez, and Alejandra Labastida, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico (group exhibition, 2014-15)
- “Vacuoles of Noncommunication: From Invisible Adversary to Invisible Revolt,” Invisible Adversaries, eds. Lauren Cornell and Tom Eccles (Annandale-on-Hudson: Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, 2016) (exhibition catalogue essay)
- “‘A Cage of Information,’ or, What is a Biometric Diagram,” Documentary Across Disciplines, eds. Erika Balsom and Hila Peleg (Cambridge: The MIT Press and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2016) (essay in edited volume)
- “Biometrics and Opacity,” Biocode: Performing Transgression After New Media, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (keynote lecture, 2015)
- “Contra-Internet,” The Internet Does Not Exist, e-flux, New York, NY (lecture performance, 2015)
Awards, grants and media appearances
- 2016 Creative Capital award in Emerging Fields
- 2014 Techné Institute Faculty Fellowship, University at Buffalo
- 2013 Artist Grant, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), University of California, San Diego
The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities
Blas, Zach and Schirmacher, Wolfgang, eds. 2011. The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities. New York: Atropos Press. ISBN 9780983915249
In Practice: Opacities. Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies
Blas, Zach, ed. 2016. In Practice: Opacities. Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies.
“Vacuoles of Noncommunication: From Invisible Adversary to Invisible Revolt"
Blas, Zach. 2016. “Vacuoles of Noncommunication: From Invisible Adversary to Invisible Revolt". In: Lauren Cornell and Tom Eccles, eds. Invisible Adversaries. Annandale-on-Hudson: Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. ISBN 1936192500
"Gay Bombs: Getting Started"
Blas, Zach. 2016. "Gay Bombs: Getting Started". In: David Getsy, ed. Queer: Documents of Contemporary Art. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press & Whitechapel Gallery, pp. 105-109. ISBN 9780262528672
“‘A Cage of Information,’ or, What is a Biometric Diagram?”
Blas, Zach. 2016. “‘A Cage of Information,’ or, What is a Biometric Diagram?”. In: Erika Balsom and Hila Peleg, eds. Documentary Across Disciplines. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press & Haus der Kulturen der Welt. ISBN 9780262529068
Blas, Zach. 2012. “Queerness, Openness”. In: Ed Keller; Nicola Masciandaro and Eugene Thacker, eds. Leper Creativity: Cyclonopedia Symposium. Brooklyn: Punctum Books. ISBN 9780615600468
"Biometrics and Opacity: A Conversation"
Blas, Zach and Gaboury, Jacob. 2016. "Biometrics and Opacity: A Conversation". Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies, 31(2 92), pp. 155-165. ISSN 0270-5346
“Escaping the Face: Biometric Facial Recognition and the Facial Weaponization Suite”
Blas, Zach. 2013. “Escaping the Face: Biometric Facial Recognition and the Facial Weaponization Suite”. Media-N, Journal of the New Media Caucus, 9(2), ISSN 2159-6891
“Has the Internet Become a Human or a Thing, or Have We Become the Internet?”
Blas, Zach; Kholeif, Omar; Bridle, James and Dullaart, Constant. 2015. “Has the Internet Become a Human or a Thing, or Have We Become the Internet?”. Mousse Magazine, Number 47.
"On Electronic Civil Disobedience: Interview with Ricardo Dominguez"
Blas, Zach. 2012. "On Electronic Civil Disobedience: Interview with Ricardo Dominguez". Reclamations Journal, Issue 6.
“Five Videos: Zach Blas / Queer Technologies’ Escape”
Blas, Zach. 2012. “Five Videos: Zach Blas / Queer Technologies’ Escape”. Rhizome.