by Zach Blas*
Facial Weaponization Suite protests against biometric facial recognition–and the inequalities these technologies propagate–by making “collective masks” in community-based workshops that are modeled from the aggregated facial data of participants, resulting in amorphous masks that cannot be detected by biometric facial recognition technologies. The masks are used for public interventions and performances. One mask, the Fag Face Mask, generated from the biometric facial data of many queer men’s faces, is a response to scientific studies that link determining sexual orientation through rapid facial recognition techniques. Another mask explores a tripartite conception of blackness, divided between biometric racism (the inability of biometric technologies to detect dark skin), the favoring of black in militant aesthetics, and black as that which informatically obfuscates. A third mask engages feminism’s relations to concealment and imperceptibility, taking recent veil legislation in France as a troubling site that turns visibility into an oppressive logic of control. These masks intersect with social movements’ use of masking as an opaque tool of collective transformation that refuses dominant forms of political representation.
Zach Blas, Facial Weaponization Communiqué: Fag Face, 2012. HD video, 8:10 minutes
Zach Blas, Fag Face Mask – October 20, 2012, Los Angeles, CA
Zach Blas, Mask – November 20, 2013, New York, NY. Photo by Christopher O’Leary.
Zach Blas, Fag Face Scanning Station, June 8, 2013. reclaim:pride with the ONE Archive and RECAPS Magazine. Christopher Street West Pride Festival. West Hollywood, CA. Photo by David Evans France.
*Zach Blas is an artist, writer, and curator. Currently, Blas is a resident at The White Building in London and a PhD candidate in the Graduate Program in Literature at Duke University.