[-empyre-] (no subject)

Zach Blas zachblas at gmail.com
Sat Jun 9 08:47:52 EST 2012

amanda, thanks for sharing your faces chapter! i’m going to dive into
this tonight. super excited! i’ve been thinking a bit more about your
comments. and i think it’s really crucial for me to point out that i
envision the fag face component of the facial weaponization suite to
be just that, a single component.

when you delve into the work and research on biometric facial
recognition technologies, you notice there are many targets. as i’ve
discussed, there is a correlation between these technologies and
gender and sexuality but also race and criminality. kelly gates has
written on tracking the “face of terror” after 9/11 with cctv and
facial recognition as well as the assumptions about race and
criminality these technologies bring to bear on certain individuals.
so yes, this work must expand out from fag face to address these other
intersectional issues, and i really hope to explore this territory as
the project develops.

when you brought up the guess my race app, you immediately made me
think of the human race machine by nancy burson (which also has an
app): http://nancyburson.com/pages/publicart_pages/hrmachine.html the
project, which i believe was co-funded by creative time, aims to be an
anti-racist pedagogical tool. the machine scans your face and allows
you to see your face as a variety of different races. i actually
taught this work in my undergraduate course on media art & activism at
duke last fall. my student reacted very strongly to this piece,
finding it offensive. they commented at length on the limited ways the
project offers to view race through the face but they also found that
the message falls sort. to them, it seemed ridiculous to have to see
your face as another race to learn about anti-racism. amanda, i wonder
what you think of this project. what do you think about the ways this
project uses biometrics and calculation to deliver an anti-racist

i’d also like to thank alex so much for bringing feminism into the
conversation here, which is undoubtedly a crucial interlocutor for
queerness. i came to queerness first in my youth, and then began to
learn more about feminism. i consider myself a feminist, but still to
this day queerness seems to be my baseline commitment. and maybe
that’s because i’ve run into exclusions within feminist frameworks.
importantly, i simultaneously respect and question those exclusions.
for myself, queerness has accommodated my political concerns and
commitments, which certainly includes feminism. but i take seriously
alex’s point about the commodification of queerness. i think at their
best, feminism and queerness are aligned and mutually intwined. i’d
love to hear what others think about this.

zach blas
artist & phd candidate
literature, information science + information studies, visual studies
duke university

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