Zach Blas: Obedient x3

Three different projections of bright colored shapes with a neon green pattern against a black background in the middle.

The Unknown Ideal (2019), installation detail from The Doors, Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg, Germany.

Zach Blas is an artist and writer whose practice spans technical investigation, theoretical research, moving image, conceptualism, performance, and science fiction. Blas is also a Lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. His recent works include The Doors (2019), an immersive video installation that uses artificial intelligence neural networks to visualize a psychedelic trip on nootropics, which are smart drugs popular in Silicon Valley for increasing cognitive capacities; and SANCTUM (2018), a sex dungeon-cum-detention center that recasts security and surveillance through BDSM.

Blas has exhibited, lectured, and held screenings internationally, recently at the Walker Art Center; 2018 Gwangju Biennale; the 68th Berlin International Film Festival; Matadero Madrid; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Art in General, New York; Gasworks, London; Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands; Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore; and ZKM Center for Art and Media, Germany.

His practice has been supported by a 2016 Creative Capital award in Emerging Fields, the Arts Council England, and a 2018 Media Art Grant from the Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst. In 2019, Blas was a Mercator Fellow in Configurations of Film at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, and currently, he is a 2018–20 United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellow.  

His artwork can be found in the collections of Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City. His practice has been written about and featured in a wide range of publications, including ArtforumFriezeArtReview, The Guardian, The New York Times, and Hyperallergic, which listed his solo exhibition Contra-Internet as one of the top 20 exhibitions around the world in 2017.

Blas's own writings can be found in the collections Documentary Across Disciplines, and Queer: Documents of Contemporary Art — both published by MIT Press, as well as e-flux journal and numerous exhibition catalogs. He is currently coediting the anthology Informatics of Domination and writing the book Informatic Opacity: The Art of Defacement in Biometric Times, a theoretical study that considers biometric facial recognition and aesthetic refusals of such recognition, such as masked protest.

Throughout 2020, Zach will be working on a new immersive installation set to premiere at the 1st Munch Triennale in Oslo, Norway. The work focuses on artificial intelligence and religion, through a collaboration with Way of the Future — the first church founded on the promise of a coming AI god — and also a reimagining of Michelangelo's fresco The Last Judgment. The installation considers the beliefs and rituals that emerge when AI is understood as a godlike judge over human life.  

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