Panel: Queer Viralities: Resistant Practices in New Media Art & Philosophy
In “After Life: De Anima and Unhuman Politics,” Eugene Thacker writes: “If our global context of climate change, disasters, pandemics, or complex networks tells us anything, it is that political thought today demands a concept of life adequate to it anonymous, unhuman dimensions, an unhuman politics, for unhuman life.”
While Galloway & Thacker have urged us not to look for progressive politics in diseases, cancers, and viruses, everything about our contemporary moment forces us to look there. It has been argued we now live in a viral ecology under the sign of viral capitalism, alongside viral media and philosophies. This explosion of all things viral suggests fascinating, weird, and unhuman movements between the life of the virus and the human designation of what is viral. Following this, can we have a notion of the viral that does not coincide with capitalism? Queerness seems to tell us we can. I will proceed to articulate what a queer viral (or unhuman) politics might (or ought to) be by examining the overlappings, differences, and irreducibilities of the virus (biological entity) and the viral (characteristics of the virus applied to other things). I will specifically consider the virus/viral relation along two axes: 1) from virus to viral based on action: replication and cryptography, or what Alex Galloway and Eugene Thacker call the “becoming-number” of the virus, and 2) from virus to viral based on its perceptual world, or how to generate the viral through a speculation on, or “alien phenomenology” of, its “umwelt.” I will argue that the unhuman is the mediating link between the virus and the viral, and that a queer viral politics engages with both these axes in novel ways. I will specifically look at Tim Dean’s writings on barebacking culture, Luce Irigaray’s work on mimicry, and the artwork of Queer Technologies.
- Zach Blas is an artist and writer working at the intersections of networked media, queerness, and the political. His current project, Queer Technologies, is an organization that develops applications and situations for queer intervention and social formation. Zach has exhibited at the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool, Highways Performance Space, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, File Electronic Language International Festival in Brazil, and the 2010 Arse Elektronika Festival in San Francisco, where he was the recipient of a Prixxx Arse Elektronika. He has recently published in version.org and has work forthcoming in Fibreculture Journal. His work has been written about in Wired, Canon Magazine, and the South Atlantic Quaterly. He is also a PhD student in Literature and Visual Studies at Duke University, US.