This research essay began with an adventure through the inter-webs, exploring various websites that were completely new to me. The goal of this search being to find two artists who’s work particularly strikes an interest in me. There were no predetermination's as to what the I would be looking for, this was a pure exploration into new uncharted territory. After much voyaging and clicking, the fruits of my effort yielded two artists by the names of: Sascha Pohflepp and Zach Blas.
Sascha Pohflepp was born in 1978 in the wonderful country of Germany. Sascha is interested in science and technology and their myths and realities, how they are reflecting our hopes for transcendence and how they are shaping the reality of our world. He has worked with numerous artistic and scientific collaborators on projects ranging from the microcosm of synthetic biology to the macrocosm of space exploration. A great deal of Sascha’s work involve concepts and attempts at future technologies and ideas. Sascha Pohflepp holds an MA in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art London and a degree in media art from The Berlin University of the Arts.(Eyebeam) All attempts to make contact with Sascha were met with no feedback.
Zach Blas is an artist, writer, curator, and researcher whose work engages technology, queerness, and politics. He is the creator of the art group Queer Technologies, which is an organization that produces products and situations for queer technological agency, interventions, and social formation. Queer Technologies aims toward Automating Perverse Possibilities. QT products include: transCoder (a queer programming anti-language), ENgenderingGenderChangers (a “solution” to Gender Adapters’ male/female binary), and Gay Bombs (a technical manual manifesto that outlines a “how to” of queer networked activism). QT items are often displayed and deployed at the Disingenuous Bar, an attack on Appleʼs Genius Bar that offers a heterotopic space for political support for “technical” problems. Queer Technologies are also shop-dropped in various consumer electronics stores, such as Best Buy, Radio Shack, and Target. All QT pieces are materialized through an industrial manufacturing process so that they may be disseminated widely. Zach is also a founding member of The Public School Durham, a contributing editor for the online journal Version, and a PhD candidate in The Graduate Program in Literature, Information Science and Information Studies, Visual Studies at Duke University. Currently, Blas is a resident at Eyebeam in New York City. Zach holds a Master of Fine Art from the Design Media Arts of University of California Los Angeles, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, an Art and Technology Studies degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Science of Film and Philosophy from Boston University.(Eyebeam) All attempts to contact were met with a lack of reciprocation.
The artwork I chose from Sascha is a collaborative project he worked on called “Growth assembly”. “Growth Assembly” is a series of anatomical like drawings of plants from the future. The drawings represent the different plants that would be grown in order to make a pesticide sprayer from their respective parts. The idea behind the series plays into where our technology could eventually go in regards to our factories and the processes that relate to that. In this new future everything we make is actually grown from a plant and harvested within these huge factory like greenhouses. Farmers then would only need to buy the seeds for a product because it would be written into the genetic code of the plant. This concept is incredible controversial because it asks for scientists to rewrite the genetic code and create new organisms that become the new organic assembly line.(Growth Assembly)
Zach Blas’s artwork has some layers to sift through before an overall understanding reveals itself. The artworks title is called “Facial Weaponization Suite”. Zach seems to get a great deal of his inspiration from a project called Queer Theory. Queer Theory’s goal is to explore the rising wide categorization of gender and sexuality. Focusing on a concept that identities are not fixed, they cannot be categorized and labeled, because identities consist of many varied components and that to categorize by a single characteristic is completely wrong. The “Facial Weaponization Suite” is a project that involves facial recognition software and a result from a study done about homosexual males facial structures. The result of the study showed that there were some biological facial structure components that were similar in all homosexual men. Zach detests these results and began this project in which he takes series of peoples faces, combines them in a program, then manipulates the result to form a mask that is undetectable by facial recognition software. An idea being to give people a face that isn’t categorized into something by facial recognition but it free to be what it wants to be. Zach has a mask which is called “Fag Face” but he also puts on workshops where masks are made from the peoples faces who participate within the workshop.(Facial Weaponization Suite)
These artists are very intelligent people and have incredible ideas for the future and some for the present. Though the works cannot be compared on a subject level, both of the works can be compared from a conceptual level. These works are pushing for some incredibly deep and powerful change within our society, though they are on different aspects of that change, it is change none the less. Sascha’s work deals with changing the biological makeup of plants to manufacture products naturally without the use of factories. Zach’s work deals with the biological appearance of that of someone who is homosexual and changing that appearance through wearing a mask. Technically one could consider what Zach’s mask does as changing biological structures to make a person unrecognizable by facial recognition technologies. Each artists work touches on concepts within biology and changing what nature has intended. There is also a prominent social aspect to each work. Sascha’s relays to us a potential green future with less pollution and a natural solution to industrial issues, while Zach’s blunt attack at current social structures surrounding societies views of homosexuals makes displays a glimpse into a future that could be not as far off as most people would think. Both of these artists revolve around science and technology and the pace at which it is advancing. Though Sascha's piece's are drawn they are still able to provide a vivid and clear representation of the ideas of this future. With Zach's masks actually being tangible, three dimensional objects, that humans can wear and that are shown being effective against current facial recognition technologies, this gives Zach’s a well deserved push into what is currently happening in society on the issues Zach addresses.
Sascha uses a series of drawings to present a concept that may actually develop into reality based on the current advancing pace of our technology. Zach makes use of workshops and a video to effectively push his idea and make a statement. Sascha is purely concept driven, there are no scientific examples provided of plants that have been genetically altered to prove such an idea within real world has been attempted or successful. Zach Blas approaches his issue with actual objects, proving that it is already possible to make these masks and put them to use. Zach is also wearing a mask while presenting his idea within the video. He addresses our privacy and sexuality and brings into light the extent of how the government is watching us and how they are using facial technologies to do it as well as the discrimination that follows someone for being homosexual.
Manovich talks about new media and old media and what those each entail, where they come from, etc. Zach falls into the category of new media while Sascha falls into the category of old media. Sascha uses drawings to convey this futuristic concept that easily transcends what most old media was about but the concept is put onto an old media medium and thus fits into that category. Zach on the other hands makes extensive use of video technologies as well as computer technologies to make and present his work. This use of computer and video technologies cause Zach to fall directly into the new media category.
This was the first time I had been asked to research current artists and compare and contrast them. The task was daunting at first but once I sifted through the artists and found some interesting topics it was actually extremely entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed scouring the internet looking for information on these current artists and I gobbled up any new info I came across. I was extremely nervous about contacting the artists because it was also the first time I had ever been asked to do that. As you learn about the different stages and types of art, artists began to look like celebrities in a way and that seemed to deter me from ever trying to contact an artist to ask them questions. It then occurred to me that artists are normal people and aren’t these extraterrestrial beings that I would never be able to contact in my life. This project caused me to break down some barriers and open some new doors that I know will have some outstanding effects in my life.