On artist Zach Blas's wide-ranging practice that scrutinizes the relationship between digital technologies and the cultures and politics that animate them.
Zach Blas: Unknown Ideals offers an inquiry into Zach Blas's singular practice, exemplary among his generation of digital artists, through a series of newly commissioned essays by Alexander R. Galloway, Pamela M. Lee, Mahan Moalemi, Kris Paulsen, and Marc Siegel; an interview with Zach Blas with Ovül Durmuşoğlu; and writings by the artist himself. These insightful contributions expand on the technological, queer, filmic, and cultural inquiries that comprise the rich world of Blas's practice.
Across his works, Blas closely engages the materiality of digital technologies while also drawing out the philosophies and imaginaries lurking in artificial intelligence, the internet, predictive policing, airport security, biometric recognition, and biological warfare. Blas embraces the media of computation, video, sculpture, and music in his installations that sharply confront biometric surveillance, the cult of optimization, and the reification of data bodies.
Blas uses research-based practices to scrutinize the relationship between digital technologies and the cultures and politics that animate them. Critical of today's corporate internet giants and their ideological fascination with Ayn Rand, Blas extensively considers the beliefs, desires, fantasies, histories, and symbols latent in technical systems, but he also dwells on the horizons and edges, or what he calls the “outside,” of dominant power structures. Reclaiming Ayn Rand's phrase the “unknown ideal,” Blas points to both liberatory potentialities and political challenges of the present: he imagines a proliferation of “unknown ideals” in order to dispute Rand's vision of the future. Refusing technological determinism, Blas's work makes space for escape through its celebration of queer ideality.