Zach Blas’s “Informatic Opacity” extrapolates from Caribbean philosopher and poet Éduoard Glissant’s theory of opacity—as an anti-imperial form of relation and existence—and applies it to contemporary forms of abject and pervasive transparency: particularly, the identification technologies which subsume identity and difference into neoliberalism’s logics of governance. “Informatic Opacity” links in with the Cell for Digital Discomfort’s urge toward “discomfort”—to redefine the norms of technological innovation into non-universalist propositions for compu-relational practice—but rather than asking us to return to Glissant’s technophobia, it instead offers a “discomforting” yet ultimately utopic proposition: to live with technologies that express the joy of opacity, not its denigration.
artist, filmmaker, and writer
Zach Blas is an artist, filmmaker, writer, and lecturer whose practice spans moving images, 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.
Blas has exhibited, lectured, and held screenings at venues internationally. His work is in the collections of Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (University Museum of Contemporary Art), Mexico City, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Seoul, and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. 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 (2018), Documentary Across Disciplines (2016), Queer (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art, 2016), as well as e-flux journal and various exhibition catalogs. Blas is co-editor of the anthology Informatics of Domination (with Melody Jue and Jennifer Rhee, forthcoming). Most recently published is Blas’s artist monograph Unknown Ideals (2022).