Zach Blas: Unknown Ideals
KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Auguststraße 69, 10117 Berlin
With: Ana Teixeira Pinto, Edit Molnár, Marc Siegel, Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu, Zach Blas, and the designers of the book Studio Pandan | Pia Christmann & Ann Richter
The book Unknown Ideals offers an inquiry into Zach Blas’s singular practice through a series of newly commissioned essays by Alexander R. Galloway, Pamela M. Lee, Mahan Moalemi, Kris Paulsen, an interview with Zach Blas by Övül 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, exemplary among his generation of digital artists.
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, which confront biometric surveillance, the cult of optimization, and the reification of data 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 as he dwells on the horizons and edges, or what he calls the “outside,” of dominant power structures. Reclaiming Rand’s phrase the “unknown ideal,” Blas points to both the 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.
Organized by Edith-Russ-Haus in collaboration with the 12th Berlin Biennale
Zach Blas: Unknown Ideals, 2022
Published by Sternberg Press and Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art
Graphic design: Studio Pandan | Pia Christmann & Ann Richter
17 × 24 cm, 376 pages, 85 color and 11 b/w illustrations, softcover