Zach Blas’s work explores the technologies of data collection, security, and control and confronts the political unconscious of science and technology. In Metric Mysticism, he looks into the crystal ball of Silicon Valley and records the transformation of large amounts of data into a magical substance that predicts and monitors our future.
The video focuses on the appropriation of mysticism and magic by Silicon Valley start-ups and government agencies. The crystal ball, a transparent device that allows a glimpse into the future, is a paradigm for the way tech entrepreneurs imagine algorithmically processing information.
The controversial data analysis company Plantir Technologies, considered the world’s most powerful espionage and surveillance machine, appropriates the palantír, a fictional all-seeing crystal ball used by wizards in J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel Lord of the Rings. In the Palantir, data determines what the future is and how it is to be controlled.
But what if one were to look not into a crystal ball but into a piece of silicon? Not transparent glass, but the opaque geological material that is at the core of digital technology. Contrary to forecasting the future, Blas asks whether reorienting our view can offer a way to better understand the crisis of the present.
Shown at Seasons of Media Arts – City of Participative Visions (2019).
Time: 21.08.2019, 19:00–20:00h
Location: ZKM I Kubuswall