Gay Bombs & Penis Plants: 3 Subversive Queer Artists That'll Eff Your World
In January 2008, an experiment by two Tufts University researchers found that people can accurately identify a man's sexual orientation just by looking at his face; the suggestion being that the biological geometry of a person's face — their "biometrics," if you will — can reveal a person's sexual identity, regardless if the person wants to be outed or not.
For political theorist and multimedia artist Zach Blas, the implications of what's more commonly called "gay face" are troubling.
"This study parses us into categories that will be used against us, gives us a visibility that only controls us, and makes us easily knowable to those in power," says Blas.
Blas' Orwellian fears seem more justified when you consider that more studies since then have confirmed the recognizability of gay men by facial sight alone.
More recently, Facebook recently removed a page that posted the faces of suspected gay Ugandan men as a way to target them for violence and harrassment. Have no doubt, our faces and identities are being used against us.
"How do we flee this visibility into the fog of a queerness that refuses to be recognized?" Blas asks. "We can start by making faces our weapons."
That's why Blas created the Fag Face Facial Weaponization Suite, an imaginary software that allows users to create an inscrutable mask whose facial dimensions are the amalgam of many people's faces — the end result looks curiously like a baboon's face with a prominent forehead and chin.
In theory, such a mask would render your face illegible and therefore non-existent, giving you the freedom to revolt "anonymously" — the connection with the hackivist collective Anonymous being quite deliberate.
But the Fag Face suite is just one of several imagined products under Blas' Queer Technologies group, "an organization the develops applications for queer technological agency, interventions and social formation. We use technologies to make queer weapons of resistance."
These other products include transCoder, a queer programming anti-language software development kit; ENgenderingGenderChangers, a “solution” to switching the gender binary of male/female computer plugs; GayBombs, a technical manual manifesto that outlines a “how to” of queer networked activism; and the Grid, a mapping application that tracks the dissemination of queer technologies and maps the battle plans to more thoroughly infect networks of global capital.
According to Queer Technologies, you can find their items displayed and deployed at the “Disingenuous Bar,” a parody of Apple's Genius Bar where one can find political support for life's “technical” problems.