[ISEA2011] Panel: Zach Blas (moderator) – Queer Viralities: Resistant Practices in New Media Art & Philosophy

Panel Statement

Chair Per­son: Zach Blas
Pre­sen­ters: Elle Mehrmand & Micha Cárde­nas

The in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion and pro­lif­er­a­tion of global con­nec­tiv­ity has opened dig­i­tal net­worked cul­ture to uni­ver­sal con­ta­gion. In­deed, it has been ar­gued we now live in a viral ecol­ogy under the sign of viral cap­i­tal­ism. As vi­ral­i­ties spread into var­i­ous realms of cul­ture, new media artists ex­plore the viral as that which has the abil­ity to con­trol and re­strict as well as dis­trib­ute and lib­er­ate. Our cur­rent viral ecol­ogy has opened up new tac­tics of re­sis­tance for var­i­ous artists, ac­tivists, and cul­tural pro­duc­ers. In this panel, we will focus on queer new media art and phi­los­o­phy that uses and in­ter­venes into the viral to form a rad­i­cal pol­i­tics of re­volt and utopia. The viral will be en­gaged with tech­ni­cally, philo­soph­i­cally, ar­tis­ti­cally, bi­o­log­i­cally, and af­fec­tively. Our aim is to show that while viral rhetoric and dis­courses have mar­gin­al­ized and con­trolled queer pop­u­la­tions, the viral re­mains an al­lu­sive, volatile po­ten­tial that can be ex­per­i­mented with to­ward cre­at­ing new queer pol­i­tics and worlds. Blas, Cárde­nas, and Mehrmand will give the­o­ret­i­cal artist talks, and Skanse will fol­low with a philo­soph­i­cal re­sponse to the viral in media the­ory. Cárde­nas and Mehrmand will dis­cuss their cur­rent col­lab­o­ra­tion virus.?cirus, an episodic se­ries of per­for­mances using wear­able elec­tron­ics and live audio to bridge vir­tual and phys­i­cal spaces that ex­plores queer fu­tures of latex sex­u­al­ity amidst a spec­u­la­tive world of virus hys­te­ria and DIY med­i­cine. Blas will speak on new works from his on­go­ing Queer Tech­nolo­gies pro­ject that at­tempt to for­mu­late a viral aes­thet­ics based on a repli­cat­ing dif­fer­ence of never-be­ing-the-same­ness against cap­i­tal’s own mod­u­lat­ing struc­ture. Skanse will ad­dress new di­rec­tions in viral phi­los­o­phy with par­tic­u­lar con­cern for how this per­pet­ual ‘move­ment’ of the virus is tied to no­tions of nov­elty within con­tem­po­rary aes­thetic dis­course.

  • 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.