Critics’ Picks

Zach Blas, Jubilee 2033, 2018, video, color, sound, 28 minutes 38 seconds.

Zach Blas, Jubilee 2033, 2018, video, color, sound, 28 minutes 38 seconds.

New York

Zach Blas

Art in General
145 Plymouth Street
January 27–April 21, 2018

“Get off the internet!” intones Le Tigre in the soundtrack to Zach Blas’s video of a performative lecture, Inversion Practice #1: Constituting an Outside (Utopian Plagiarism), 2015. It’s a proposition that has become a mantra among self-helpers and the digital-weary. But as the artist suggests in his exhibition here, it’s easier to envision the end of the world than the end of the internet. This idea is a perversion of Fredric Jameson who, along with writer Paul Preciado, the economic-geographer duo known as J. K. Gibson-Graham, and Karl Marx, is cited, edited, remixed, and read aloud via a text-to-speech function in Blas’s video, indicating that an anticapitalist view of the internet may be as obvious and reproducible as your laptop’s copy-and-paste function.

The centerpiece of the show—indicated by a vinyl floor sigil titled The Seal of the Absolute, 2018, inspired by Derek Jarman’s 1978 queer anarchist film Jubilee—is Jubilee 2033, 2018. In the video, Ayn Rand ideologues and an AI avatar populate a world where capitalist techies are locked in a bloody war. If Blas’s glimpse into the silicon ball of the future demonstrates a nihilistic streak, it is tempered by a commitment to gazing clearly at the materials of our present. Totality Study #1: Internet, a definition, 2015, posits this all-encompassing digital space as the “everything everywhere of contemporary cultural representation.” Rendered in vinyl in florescent green, one of the 216 Web-safe colors from the internet’s earliest days, it is a wink at nostalgia and a wide-eyed look to tomorrow.