Zach Blas is an artist, filmmaker, and writer whose practice spans moving image, computation, theory, performance, and science fiction. Currently an Assistant Professor of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto, Blas has exhibited, lectured, and held screenings at venues internationally, including Tate Modern, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, Whitechapel Gallery and ZKM Center for Art and Media. Notable works include Facial Weaponization Suite (2012-14) which consists of amorphous masks that demand opacity against biometric facial recognition systems.

Zach Blas will discuss his newest work CULTUS, an immersive moving image installation that addresses a burgeoning AI religiosity in the Californian tech industry, considering the ways in which artificial intelligence is imbued with god-like powers and marshaled to serve beliefs centered around judgment and transcendence, extraction and immortality, pleasure and punishment, individual freedom and cult devotion. 

CULTUS manifests as a techno-religious computational device –a god generator, a holy engine –that invokes a pantheon of AI gods, whose prophets share their divine teachings, rituals, and symbologies. Blas will consider the sociopolitical conditions that drive the research and conceptual framework of CULTUS, and he will also present the ways in which AI and machine learning were creatively and critically utilized to invoke AI gods.

Join us online on YouTube Live, or in the building on Friday 14th June 2024 at 1pm for the talk and to take part in the Q and A discussion afterwards. 

The Pervasive Media Studio is a partnership between the Watershed, University of the West of England and University of Bristol. The lunchtime talks are partly supported by MyWorld, a project led by the University of Bristol to support creative industries in the region. Watershed is supported by Arts Council England.

Watershed, 1 Canon's Rd, Bristol BS1 5TX

The Lunchtime talks take place in the Pervasive Media Studio Event Space. To access the Studio, please go to the Main Watershed Box Office entrance and go upstairs to the Café Bar. Walk across the cafe bar, turn right and walk towards the double doors. Go through into the corridor and walk all the way down until you reach the Studio. A member of staff will sign you in, and check your ticket, if you have booked.

The Studio is wheelchair accessible, and the events space has a hearing loop. The last talk of every month is BSL interpreted. 

For more information on accessing the studio take a look here.

*Please note this is a hybrid event and will be live streamed so please be aware you will be in the live broadcast and recording when watching in the Studio.