Zach Blas (b. Point Pleasant, West Virginia, USA) is an artist, filmmaker, and writer whose practice spans moving image, computation, theory, performance, and science fiction.
Blas engages the materiality of digital technologies while also drawing out the philosophies and imaginaries lurking in artificial intelligence, biometric recognition, predictive policing, airport security, the internet, and biological warfare. The Doors (2019) is an immersive environment that imagines a new psychedelic age fueled by AI, nootropics, and tech culture. SANCTUM (2018) is a sex dungeon-cum-detention center that recasts security and surveillance through BDSM. A film installation, Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033 (2018) follows author Ayn Rand on an acid trip, in which she bares witness to a dystopian future of the internet. im here to learn so :)))))) (2017), a four-channel video installation and collaboration with Jemima Wyman, resurrects Microsoft AI Tay to consider the gendered politics of pattern recognition and machine learning. Facial Weaponization Suite (2012-14) consists of amorphous masks that demand opacity against biometric facial recognition systems.
Blas has exhibited, lectured, and held screenings at venues internationally, including the de Young Museum, Tate Modern, Walker Art Center, 2018 Gwangju Biennale, the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, Matadero Madrid, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Art in General, Gasworks, Van Abbemuseum, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, e-flux, Whitechapel Gallery, ZKM Center for Art and Media, and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo. His practice has been supported by a Creative Capital award in Emerging Fields, the Arts Council England, Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst, and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.
His work is in the collections of Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, and Whitney Museum of American Art. Blas’s practice been written about and featured in Artforum, Frieze, ArtReview, BBC, The Guardian, and The New York Times.
Blas’s writings can be found in the collections You Are Here: Art After the Internet, Documentary Across Disciplines, Queer: Documents of Contemporary Art, as well as e-flux journal and various exhibition catalogues. With Melody Jue and Jennifer Rhee, he is co-editor of the anthology Informatics of Domination, forthcoming from Duke University Press. His artist monograph Unknown Ideals is published by Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst and Sternberg Press.
Blas is an Assistant Professor of Visual Studies in the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto.