In his work, artist and writer Zach Blas reflects on modern surveillance strategies and methods of resistance such as online anonymization (e.g. through Tor) and the masks used by Anonymous protesters. He explores the different techniques used by social movements to make the self opaque as a form of political resistance in the face of ubiquitous tracking. In response to the facial recognition and data mining strategies of the NSA and their partner organizations, Blas creates ‘Facial Weaponization Suites’ that protect the user against facial identification surveillance and the intrusive consequences of data derivatives in counter-terrorism practices. Through his work, Blas addresses issues such as the right to disappear and to be untraceable, especially in a queer context. How can anonymity be secured and subsequently used for public presence and resistance in the ‘facestate,’ as Metahaven calls the current state of transparency of the individual to those in power?
Blas holds a PhD in Literature at Duke University and is currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University at Buffalo. His interests combine the technological control that is characteristic of the digital society, with the visibility politics of physical and public opacity, illegibility and escape. At the MyCreativity: Sweatshop, Blas participates in the From the Creative City to the Smart City discussion panel on Friday 21 November 2014.