The Literature Program, Information Science + Information Studies, Visual Studies, Duke University
Zach Blas is an artist and writer working at the intersections of networked media, queerness, and the political. His work engages emerging media technologies with a multitude of aesthetic and resistant tactics to challenge neoliberal control structures and generate new potentials for queer politics, affect, and collectivity.
He is one of the founding members of The Public School Durham and a PhD student in The Graduate Program in Literature, Information Science + Information Studies, Visual Studies, Women’s Studies, and a lab member of s-1: Speculative Sensation Lab, led by Mark B. N. Hansen, at Duke University. He is also a current contributing editor for the online journal Version and a Representative for The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.
His on-going project, Queer Technologies, is an organization that produces critical applications, tools, and situations for queer technological agency, interventions, and social formation. By re-imaging a technology designed for queer use, Queer Technologies critiques the heteronormative, capitalist, militarized underpinnings of technological architectures, design, and functionality. Queer Technologies includes, transCoder, a queer programming anti-language; ENgenderingGenderChangers, a “solution” to Gender Adapters’ male/female binary; and Gay Bombs, a technical manual manifesto that outlines a “how to” of queer networked activism. Queer Technologies are often displayed and deployed at the Disingenuous Bar, an attack on Appleʼs Genius Bar that offers a heterotopic space for political support for “technical” problems. Queer Technologies are also shop-dropped in various consumer electronics stores, such as Best Buy, Radio Shack, and Target. Queer Technologies has been awarded a 2010 Prixxx Arse Elektronika Golden Kleene and the 2010 Gallery Choice Award for The Kenan Institute for Ethics’ annual exhibition at the Fredric Jameson Gallery. Zach has also been interviewed by rhizome.org for this work. The Queer Technologies project can be found at www.queertechnologies.info.
Zach’s new project on “fag face” and biometrics is a response to emerging scientific studies that link rapid facial recognition techniques with determining sexual orientation. The project includes a Facial Weaponization Suite, designed as a set of tools to resist forms of recognition-control. Tools in the suite include, collective masks, enabling users to wear the faces of many as well as impossible expression masks.
Zach has exhibited in numerous festivals and galleries, including the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool, England; Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica; Fe Arts Gallery, Pittsburgh, the 2009 File Electronic Language International Festival, Brazil; the 2010 Arse Elektronika Festival, San Francisco; and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, where he co-curated the 2011 group exhibition Speculative.
He has participated in residencies on “Art and Resistance”, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Chiapas, Mexico; “On the Commons; or, Believing-Feeling-Acting Together”, The Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada; and “Devisualize”, Medialab Prado, Madrid, Spain.
Zach has also lectured across the globe, from Singapore to Mexico City. He has given talks at The New School, Upgrade! Tijuana, the Los Angeles Queer Studies Conference, the Digital Arts and Culture Conference, the School of Visual Arts, the ARTifact Gallery at the University of California San Diego, and the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Annual Conference. Zach’s up-coming lectures include the Queer Viral Aesthetics Panel at the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, which he will also chair, as well as the Momentum: Women, Art, and Technology Panel at the 2012 College Art Association in Los Angeles with Lynn Hershman Leeson and Victoria Vesna.
Zach has published in a mínima, e-misférica, Version, and Schlossplatz³ and has articles forthcoming in The Fibreculture Journal, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and Reclamations Journal. He has written for networkpolitics.org’s Request for Comments, the Viral Economies: Hacktivating Design session of Empyre: Soft-Skinned Space, and HASTAC’s Queer and Feminist New Media Spaces Forum. He has recently co-edited an exhibition catalog for Speculative at LACE, which features the writings of Alexander R. Galloway, Ricardo Dominguez, Jack Halberstam, Sean Dockray, Pedro Lasch, Scott Bukatman, and Jordan Crandall.
Zach has taught at several universities and institutes, including UCLA, UC Berkeley, and the Public School Los Angeles and Durham. In Fall 2011, he will teach a course entitled “Art, Media, and Interventions After the Internet” at Duke University.
Zach holds a Master of Fine Art, Design | Media Arts, University of California Los Angeles; a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, Art and Technologies Studies, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and a Bachelor of Science, Film and Philosophy, Boston University. Zach also conducted a year of PhD research at the University of California Berkeley in the Film & Media track of the Rhetoric Department with a joint appointment in the Center for New Media.
Zach currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and Durham, NC.