Bio

Zach BlasZach Blas is an artist and writer whose practice confronts technologies of capture, security, and control. Currently, he is a Lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Blas’s recent works respond to 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 (2014-2018) explores subversions of and alternatives to the internet and is supported by a 2016 Creative Capital award in Emerging Fields and the Arts Council England.

Blas has exhibited and lectured internationally, recently at Gasworks, London; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore; e-flux, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City.

Blas’s writings can be found in Documentary Across Disciplines (The MIT Press and Haus der Kulturen der Welt); Queer: Documents of Contemporary Art (The MIT Press and Whitechapel Gallery); and e-flux journal. He is producing two books, an artist monograph, 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 ArtforumFrieze, Art ReviewMousse Magazine, The Guardian, and The Atlantic.

CV

Education

  • 2014  Ph.D., Program in Literature, Duke University
  • 2008  Master of Fine Art, Design Media Arts, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 2006  Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio, Art and Technology Studies, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • 2004  Bachelor of Science, Film, Boston University

Teaching Appointments

  • 2015-      Lecturer, Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • 2014-15  Assistant Professor, Department of Art, University at Buffalo, SUNY

Selected Awards, Fellowships & Grants

  • 2017
  • Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England
  • 2016
  • Creative Capital award in Emerging Fields
  • 2014
  • Techné Institute Faculty Fellowship, University at Buffalo
  • 2013
  • Artist Grant, California Institute for Telecommunications and InformationTechnology, University of California, San Diego

Selected Exhibitions, Screenings & Performances

  • Solo Exhibitions
  • 2018
  • Contra-Internet, MU, Eindhoven
  • Contra-Internet, Art in General, New York
  • 2017
  • Contra-Internet, Gasworks, London
  • Group Exhibitions
  • 2017
  • Electronic Superhighway, Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon
  • Propositions for a stage: 24 frames of a beautiful heaven, curated by Bridget Crone, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore
  • Our Bright Future – Cybernetic Fantasy, curated by Jeonghwa Goo, Sooyoung Lee, and Unmake Lab, Nam June Paik Art Center, Yongin, South Korea
  • Wonderful Fabric, curated by Ward Janssen, Stedelijk Museum Breda
  • Material Politics, curated by Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
  • The Noise of Being, Sonic Acts Festival, curated by Nicky Assmann, Amsterdam
  • 2016
  • Futurs Non-Conformes #2, curated by Nicolas Maigret, Espace Virtuel, Jeu de Paume, Paris
  • Public, Private, Secret, curated by Charlotte Cotton, International Center of Photography, New York
  • Big Bang Data, ArtScience Museum, Singapore
  • Digital Abstractions, curated by Alexandra Adler and Reinhard Storz, Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel
  • The Next Big Thing is not a Thing, curated by Pauline Doutreluingne, Agata Jaworska, Yana Milev, Niels Schrader and Saskia van Stein, Bureau Europa, Maastricht
  • The Black Chamber, curated by Eva and Franco Mattes and Bani Brusadin, Škuc Gallery with Aksioma, Ljubljana
  • Electronic Superhighway, curated by Omar Kholeif, Whitechapel Gallery, London
  • 2015
  • First Look: Real Live Online, curated by Lucas G. Pinheiro and Devin Kenny, New Museum, New York
  • Big Bang Data, curated by Olga Subirós and José Luis de Vicente, Somerset House, London
  • BPLTC II: Identity Control, Eastern Bloc, Montréal
  • GLOBALE: Global Control and Censorship, curated by Lívia Rózsás and Bernhard Serexhe, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe
  • GLOBALE: Infosphere, curated by Peter Weibel, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe
  • Eyebeam in Objects, curated by Roddy Schrock, Upfor Gallery, Portland, OR
  • Now? Now!, Biennial of the Americas, curated by Lauren Wright, Denver Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Surveillance Awareness Bureau, curated by Claudia Arozqueta, Modelab, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Control / Shift / Escape, Black Box Festival, curated by Anne Couillaud and Julia Fryett, Main Gallery at Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle
  • Beyond the Interface, curated by Marc Garrett and Julian Stadon, Furtherfield, London
  • Imaginary Accord, curated by Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
  • Black Box Formula, curated by Jintaeg Jang, Georgia Muenster, and Joni Zhu, Royal College of Art, London
  • CAPTURE ALL, transmediale, curated by Daphne Dragona and Robert Sakrowski, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
  • 2014
  • Your Consent is Implied, curated by Joshua Mittleman and Gus Sondin-Kung, New Shelter Plan, Copenhagen
  • The Moving Museum, curated by Aya Mousawi and Simon Sakhai, Şişhane Otopark, Istanbul
  • Theory of Colour, curated by Cuauhtémoc Medina, Helena Chávez, and Alejandra Labastida, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City
  • NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial, curated by Jake Yuzna, Museum of Arts and Design, New York
  • Dak’Art, curated by Massamba Mbaye, Musée Théodore-Monod d’art africain, Dakar
  • Science Fiction: The New Death, curated by Mike Stubbs, Omar Kholeif, and John Dunning, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool
  • FACELESS, curated by Bogomir Doringer, Mediamatic, Amsterdam
  •  Annual Showcase, Eyebeam, New York
  • 2013
  • FACELESS II, curated by Bogomir Doringer, quartier21, Vienna
  • Overflow, transmediale reSource 006, curated by Tatiana Bazzichelli, Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Berlin
  • The Very First Year, curated by Laurel Ptak, Eyebeam, New York
  • The Life of Forms, curated by Zen Marie, GoetheonMain, Johannesburg
  • REVERIE, Reed Arts Week, Reed College, Portland, OR
  • Trans Technology: Circuits of Culture, Self, Belonging, curated by Christian Dunbar-Hester and Bryce J. Renninger, Women Artists Series Galleries, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
  • 2012
  • The HTMlles 10: Risky Business, Feminist Festival of Media Arts + Digital Culture, Studio XX, Montréal
  • What Have I Done to (De)serve This?, curated by Omar Kholeif and Sarah Perks, BlankSpace, Abandon Normal Devices Festival, Manchester
  • Screenings
  • 2016
  • The Flare Queer Sci-Tech Lab, BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival
  • 2015
  • Vulnerable Sytems: A Screening of Video Works, curated by Jeanne Dreskin, Roksana Filipowska, and Mashinka Firunts, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
  • 2013
  • Infrared IV: New Visions from the Queer Avant-Garde, curated by Malic Amalya, The Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
  • 2012
  • Move In, curated by ONE Archives, Honor Fraser, Los Angeles
  • Lecture-Performances & Performances
  • 2017
  • bio-exempt, Liquid Architecture, Melbourne
  • Patterns-of-Life-Resistance, with Jemima Wyman, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
  • 2016
  • Contra-Internet, RISD Museum, Providence
  • Contra-Internet, Whitechapel Gallery, London
  • 2014
  • The New Romantics, curated by Claudia Hart, Nicholas O’Brien, and Katie Torn, Eyebeam, New York
  • 2011
  • Somatic SENSOR, curated by Micha Cárdenas and Elle Mehrmand, Highways Performance Space & Gallery, Santa Monica

Selected Invited Talks

  • 2017
  • “In Conversation with Harold Offeh,” Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge
  • The Study Sessions: The Politics of Opacity, Nottingham Contemporary
  • Refracted Spaces, Gasworks, London
  • Becoming More, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
  • The New Normal, Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow
  • “bio-exempt,” University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Darkness in the Archives: Queer Opacity as Resistance, ONE Archives, Los Angeles
  • “bio-exempt,” New Mexico State University, Las Cruces
  • “bio-exempt,” The Noise of Being, Sonic Acts Festival, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Queer Cultures Seminar, University of Cambridge
  • 2016
  • Sliding Into a Face, panel with Nicolas Malevé, Federica Biotti, and Andrew Muray, The Photographer’s Gallery, Londo
  • Keynote, “Contra-Internet,” Digital Disorders, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt
  • OpenEye, Filmová a televizní fakulta Akademie múzických umění v Praze, Prague
  • Gravity, Sheffield Institute of Art, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Futurs Non-Conformes #2: Passages à l’acte, panel with Morehshin Allahyari & Daniel Rourke, RYBN, and Nicolas Maigret, Jeu de Paume, Paris
  • The Influencers, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona
  • The Dark Side of the Internet: Eva and Franco Mattes in Conversation with Zach Blas, The Photographers’ Gallery, London
  • Political Identity and the Moving Image, panel with Ahmet Öğüt, Oreet Ashery, and Rizvana Bradley, Artists’ Film Biennial, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
  • Risking Everything: The Computational Politics of Prediction, Security, and Secrecy, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • The Technological Body and Its Discontents, Frieze Talks with Omar Kholeif, Andrea Crespo, and Jacolby Satterwhite, Frieze New York
  • “Contra-Internet,” The Black Chamber, Kino Šiška with Aksioma, Ljubljana
  • “Contra-Internet,” ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe
  • To Mask and to Hide, conversation with UBERMORGEN.COM, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe
  • Culture Now: Zach Blas & Seb Franklin, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
  • 2015
  • Network Pessimism: Welcome to the New Dark Age! LUX Salon with Louis Henderson, LUX, London
  • In Conversation: Laurel Ptak and Zach Blas, Delfina Foundation, London
  • “Informatic Opacity,” Conditions are Now in Transition: The Local, The Border, Department of Art, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • “Informatic Opacity,” Queory: Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence, University of Sussex, Brighton
  • “Contra-Internet,” The Long Progress Bar, Lighthouse, Brighton
  • “Contra-Internet,” DVLPR and DIS Magazine: A Postscript Symposium on The Data Issue, Abrons Arts Center, New York
  • “Informatic Opacity,” Between Opacity and Openness, panel with Mark Fenster, Mikkel Flyvverbom, and Vian Bakir, Politics and Practice of Secrecy, King’s College London
  • “Feminist Imperceptibilities,” Hacking Feminism, The New School, New York
  • “Biometrics and Opacity,” Biocode: Performing Transgression After New Media, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • “Contra-Internet,” The Internet Does Not Exist, e-flux, New York
  • “Informatic Opacity and Contra-Internet Aesthetics,” Media, Art, and Text Guest Lecture Series, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond
  • “Informatic Opacity,” Selfhood, Selflessness, and Selfies: On Being Rendered Visible, panel with Karen Archey, Zach Blas, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Lauren Cornell, VISIBLE/INVISIBLE, New Museum, New York
  • “Biometrics and Informatic Opacity,” Workshop on US Locations: Privacy and Recognition, University of Chicago
  • “Contra-Internet,” Factory/studio/tumblr, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
  • “Virus, Viral, Queer,” lecture with micha cárdenas, Virus, Monroe Center for Social Inquiry, Pitzer College, Claremont
  • “Contra-Internet Aesthetics,” Politics of Digital Networks, Research Center for Proxy Politics, Universität der Künste Berlin
  • 2014
  • “Contra-Internet: A Lecture,” Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
  • Facial Weaponization Suite and Face Cages,” Critical Tactics Lab, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, New York University
  • Facial Weaponization Suite and Face Cages,” The Creative City as the Internet of (bright, young) Things, panel with Rob van Kranenburg, Frank Rieger, and Florian Cramer, MyCreativity Sweatshop, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences
  • Facial Weaponization Suite & Face Cages,” Post Human, panel with Anthony Antonellis, Meredith Bak, Ursula Endlicher, and Stephanie Boluk, Meme, You and Everyone We Follow, Pratt Upload, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
  • Performance as Resistance, conversation with Heather Cassils, Videofag, Toronto
  • “Informatic Opacities,” Open Seminar on Aesthetics, Art, and Politics, Theory of Colour, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City
  • “Contrasexual, Contra-Internet: What are the dildotectonics of the internet?,” with Övül O. Durmusoglu, The Moving Museum Istanbul
  • Queer|Art|Film LA: Zach Blas presents Jubilee, Sundance Cinemas, West Hollywood
  • How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Queer the Internet: Jack Halberstam & Zach Blas in Conversation, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
  • “How to Become Informatically Opaque,” The White Building, London
  • “Informatic Opacity: On Biometrics and Facial Weaponization,” Digital Transparency and Secrecy, panel with Clare Birchall, David Berry, and Smari McCarthy, Digital Activism #Now: Information Politics, Digital Culture, and Global Protest, King’s College London
  • Facial Weaponization Suite and Face Cages,” StalkFest, Mediamatic, Amsterdam
  • 2013
  • Keynote, “Informatic Opacity: The Universal Standards of Identification and Queerness,” Experimental Collectivities, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics Graduate Student Initiative Convergence, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • Facial Weaponization Suite and Queer Opacity,” The Stoop Series, panel with R. Luke DuBois and Roddy Schrock, BRIC, Brooklyn
  • “Escape, Opacity, and Darkness: The Universal Standards of Identification and Queer Illegibility,” Overflow, transmediale reSource 006, Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Berlin
  • Facial Weaponization Suite: Fag Face Scan Station,” reclaim:pride, ONE Archives, Christopher Street West Pride Festival, West Hollywood
  • “Queer Illegibility and the Facial Weaponization Suite,” Movements of Disturbance, panel with Micha Cárdenas and Pinar Yoldas, Multiplicities in Motion: Affects, Embodiment and the Reversal of Cybernetics. 3.000 Years of Posthuman History, Medialab Prado, Madrid
  • “Queer Technologies and Autonomous Practices of Networked (In)visibility,” REVERIE, Reed Arts Week, Reed College, Portland, OR
  • “Practices of Illegibility: On Queerness, Opacity, and Political Refusals of Recognition,” Interdivisional Media Arts + Practice Visiting Artist Lecture Series, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • 2012
  • “Encountering Risky Business,” artist talk and tour with McGill University’s Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Risky Business, The HTMlles 10: Feminist Festival of Media Arts + Digital Culture, Studio XX, Montréal
  • The Art Of Success, salon with Jennifer Chan and Jeff Stark, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Abandon Normal Devices Festival, Manchester
  • “Queer Technologies,” Commercializing Eros, panel with Jacob Appelbaum, Kate Ehrhardt, Liad Hussein Kantorowicz, Gaia Novati, and Aliya Rakhmetova, reSource sex, transmediale, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
  • 2011
  • Co-Moderator, Speculative, panel with Jeff Cain, Micha Cárdenas, Jordan Crandall, Jack Halberstam, Michael Kontopoulos and Rita Raley, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
  • “Weapons for Queer Escape,” Devisualize, Medialab Prado, Madrid
  • “Opening Queerness,” panel with Alisa Andrasek and Ben Woodard, Leper Creativity: Cyclonopedia Symposium I, The New School, New York

Commissions

  • 2017
  • Solo Exhibition and Film, Contra-Internet and Jubilee 2033, Gasworks, London, Art in General, New York, and MU, Eindhoven
  • 2016
  • Video and Essay, What Now? On Future Identities, Art in General, New York
  • Lecture Performance, Rhizome, curated by Michael Connor, Whitechapel Gallery, London
  • Catalogue Essay, Invisible Adversaries, edited by Lauren Cornell and Tom Eccles, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson
  • 2015
  • Exhibition, Imaginary Accord, curated by Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
  • Various Works, DIS Magazine, The Data Issue, edited by Marvin Jordan and Mike Pepi
  • 2014
  • Exhibition, Theory of Colour, curated by Cuauhtémoc Medina, Helena Chávez, and Alejandra Labastida, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City
  • 2012
  • Exhibition, What Have I Done to (De)serve This?, curated by Omar Kholeif and Sarah Perks, BlankSpace, Abandon Normal Devices Festival, Manchester

Selected Residencies

  • 2017
  • Patterns-of-Life-Resistance, with Jemima Wyman, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
  • 2015
  • The Public Domain, Delfina Foundation, London
  • 2014
  • The Moving Museum Istanbul
  • The White Building, London
  • 2013-14
  • What is Important Now?, Eyebeam, New York
  • 2013
  • The Life of Forms, Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  • 2012-13
  • b.a.n.g. lab and Performative Nanorobotics Lab, University of California, San Diego
  • 2011
  • in/compatible.research, Vilém Flusser Archive, transmediale, Universität der Künste Berlin
  • Devisualize, Medialab Prado, Madrid
  • On the Commons; or, Believing-Feeling-Acting Together, Banff Research in Culture, The Banff Centre
  • 2010
  • Art and Resistance, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

Selected Conferences, Symposia & Workshops

  • 2017
  • “Masterclass – Two Outsides: Informatic Opacity & Contra-Internet,” The Noise of Being, Sonic Acts Festival, Rijksakademie, Amsterdam
  • 2015
  • Invited Respondent, Don’t Think You Have Any Rights: The Challenges of Italian Feminisms, panel with Fulvia Carnevale, Marina Vishmidt, Carla Lonzi, Giovanna Zapperi, Maria Drakopoulou, and Francesco Ventrella, Now You Can Go Seminar, The Showroom, London
  • “Contra-Internet Aesthetics: A Workshop,” Royal College of Art, London
  • Invited Moderator and Respondent, Becoming Fog: Obfuscation in a Datafying World, panel with Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Mushon Zer-Aviv, CAPTURE ALL, transmediale, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
  • 2014
  • “Facial Weaponization Suite: A Mask-Making Workshop,” Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City
  • 2013
  • “Surveillance, Aesthetics, and Resistance: A Workshop with Zach Blas and Simone Browne,” Digital Praxis Seminar, The Graduate Center,  The City University of New York
  • “Facial Weaponization Suite: A Mask-Making Workshop,” Eyebeam, New York
  • “Facial Weaponization Suite: A Mask-Making Workshop,” b.a.n.g. lab and Performative Nanorobotics Lab, University of California, San Diego
  • “Escape, Opacity, and Darkness: Queer Illegibility and the Facial Weaponization Suite,” Biometrics and Biopower, panel with Simone Browne, Shelleen Greene, and Jennifer Johung, The Dark Side of the Digital, A Center for 21st Century Studies Conference, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Facial Weaponization Suite,” Computation and the Non-Human: New Directions in Queer Theory and Art, New Media Caucus, featured panel with Micha Cárdenas, Jacob Gaboury, Pinar Yoldas, and Alison Reed, College Art Association Conference, New York
  • 2012
  • Moderator, Geopolitics of Reimagination: Art, Media, and Social Movements, panel with Counter-Cartographies Collective, Brian Holmes, Pedro Lasch, Dannys Montes de Oca Moreda, and The Yes Men, The Geo/Body Politics of Emancipation, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics Graduate Student Initiative Convergence, Duke University, Durham
  • “Faces, Biometrics, and the Aesthetics and Politics of Recognition: A Mask-Making Workshop,” Risky Business, The HTMlles 10: Feminist Festival of Media Arts + Digital Culture, OBORO, Montréal
  • “Fag Face, or How to Weaponize Your Face: On Facial Recognition and Escaping the Face,” Queer Viral Aesthetics: Resistant Practices in Media Art and Philosophy, panel with Micha Cárdenas and Pinar Yoldas, South by Southwest Interactive, Austin
  • 2011
  • “Queer Viralities: On Technologies and Weapons of Queerness,” in/compatible.research, PhD Workshop, Vilém Flusser Archive, transmediale, Universität der Künste Berlin
  • Chair, “Virus, Viral, Queer,” Queer Viralities: Resistant Practices in Media Art and Philosophy, panel with Micha Cárdenas and Elle Mehrmand, International Symposium on Electronic Art, Istanbul

Conferences & Symposia Organized

  • 2017
  • Informatics of Domination, Department of Visual Cultures Spring Public Programme, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • 2013
  • Illegibility, Imperceptibility, Invisibility: On the Political Refusal of Recognition, Department of Women’s Studies, Duke University, Durham
  • 2012 
  • The Geo/Body Politics of Emancipation: Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics Convergence, Duke University, Durham
  • Marxism and New Media, The Program in Literature, Duke University, Durham
  • 2009
  • Queer Bonds, University of California, Berkeley

Public Collections

  • Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City
  • German Museum of Technology Berlin

Selected Press

  • 2011
  • Bruce Sterling, “Design Fiction: ‘Speculative’ exhibition, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions,” Beyond the Beyond, Wired