Zach Blas is an artist, filmmaker, and writer whose practice spans moving image, computation, theory, performance, and science fiction. Zach has exhibited, lectured, and held screenings at venues internationally, including the de Young Museum, Tate Modern, Walker Art Center, 2018 Gwangju Biennale, the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, Matadero Madrid, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Art in General, Gasworks, Van Abbemuseum, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, e-flux, Whitechapel Gallery, ZKM Center for Art and Media, and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo. Zach is currently co-editing the anthology Informatics of Domination with Melody Jue and Jennifer Rhee and is also writing a collection of essays. His artist monograph Unknown Ideals will be published by Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst and Sternberg Press in 2020.
- 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
Teaching and Supervision
My research-driven artistic practice focuses on emerging technologies—often digital—and their relations to power. From artificial intelligence to biometric facial recognition, I center my research on the social, cultural, and political contexts in which these technologies are imagined, created, and used. I particularly approach my projects from queer and feminist perspectives. My research manifests through a mixture of technical experimentation and moving image artwork paired with theory, performance, and science fiction. As such, my practice is highly transdisciplinary, not only in research topics but with production as well. For most of my art projects, I put together a team of experts across computer science, architecture, and the film industry to collaborate on fabrication and media creation. The resultant artworks typically appear as large-scale, digital video installations that include sculptural objects and structures created through computational processes, like 3D printing. For example, im here to learn so :)))))) (2017) is a video installation and collaboration with Jemima Wyman that resurrects Microsoft AI Tay to consider the gendered politics of pattern recognition and machine learning. Facial Weaponization Suite (2011-14) consists of amorphous masks that demand opacity against facial recognition. I also complement my installation work with lecture-performances and writings that tease out and explore further the discursive aspects of my visual media practice. In my lecture-performance Metric Mysticism (2018), I explore Silicon Valley’s obsession with magic and fantasy by scrying with a chunk of silicon that is used to make computers and electronics. My research is an amalgamation of studies and training in a wide range of areas, including fine art, digital art, graphic design, film production and film studies, media studies, science and technology studies, queer theory and feminist theory, political philosophy, and visual studies.
Blas, Zach and Schirmacher, Wolfgang, eds. 2011. The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities. New York: Atropos Press. ISBN 9780983915249
Blas, Zach, ed. 2016. In Practice: Opacities. Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies, Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies, 31((2 92)). 0270-5346
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
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. 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
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.
Blas, Zach. 2012. “Five Videos: Zach Blas / Queer Technologies’ Escape”. Rhizome.
Blas, Zach. 2012. "On Electronic Civil Disobedience: Interview with Ricardo Dominguez". Reclamations Journal, Issue 6.
Further profile content
Zach Blas: Unknown Ideals
an artist monograph published with Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst and Sternberg Press
a series of digital artworks, writing, and film that confronts the transformation of the internet into an instrument for state oppression and accelerated capitalism
a multimedia installation exploring psychedelia, drug use, and artificial intelligence
an immersive video installation that recasts security and surveillance through BDSM
an AI crystal ball chatbot that is trained on writings influential to Silicon Valley’s obsession with predicting the future
Grants and awards
2019: Mercator Fellow, Configurations of Film, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Germany
2018: Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellow, UK
2018: Grant for Media Art of the Foundation of Lower Saxony, Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst, Germany
2017: Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England, UK
2016: Creative Capital award in Emerging Fields, USA