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“Patterns-of-Life-Resistance” is a research and production residency with artists Zach Blas and Jemima Wyman at the IMA Brisbane during April 2017.
In her 2015 exhibition Conjuring Radical Openness at Commonwealth & Council, Jemima Wyman asks what might be a visual pattern of resistance for today? Wyman pursues this through fabric work that is inspired by social movements’ uses of clothing and masks to obscure, make anonymous, and collectivize.
In a series of new artworks, Zach Blas and Jemima Wyman further this question of patterns through a consideration of two premises: 1) the visual patterns used in protest movements to camouflage, and 2) the emerging informatic patterns generated by cutting-edge surveillance technologies and algorithms. Here, we are particularly taken by “pattern-of-life analysis,” an informatic mode of surveillance that uses tracking, data aggregation, and predictive software to generate a pattern of a person’s life, for the purposes of security and policing. Pattern-of-life analysis draws attention to the fact that power and domination produce their own patterns, and these patterns are primarily informatic in nature, not only visual. Blas has explored such resistance to informatic patterns in his work on biometric facial recognition and masking. Today, alongside visual resistance patterns, we see informatic counter-patterns forming, such as drone camouflage and encryption software. During our residency at the IMA Brisbane, we plan to explore this landscape of resistance and surveillance patterns in order to create artworks that dramatize a struggle between visual resistance patterns and informatic patterns of surveillance. For us, an adequate pattern of resistance today must be one that can function visually as well as informatically. Philosophically, we are interested in extending the term “pattern-of-life” to “patterns-of-life-resistance,” which takes up the concept of “life resistance” that French philosopher Gilles Deleuze wrote on extensively. Patterns-of-life-resistance are what we plan to create.
We want to emphasize that while patterns may appear to be abstractions of materiality, they are, in fact, resolutely material and historical. Fabric is material and historical—and so is information. Engaging patterns in such a capacity is to take up material politics of our time. Thus, a core question that will drive our practice together is: how can we materialize patterns that engage resistance informatically as well as visually?