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Harris Kornstein
Harris in a photobooth with red backdrop. Harris is white with light brown hair, glasses, and facial hair, and is wearing a t-shirt with a collage of cats on it.
Any pronouns
Date and place of birth
b. 1984, New York
Current location
Tucson, Arizona
Year(s) of residency and/or fellowship
2020, Rapid Response Fellow

Harris Kornstein is an artist, researcher, and drag queen examining digital culture and queer politics. Their art has been exhibited at venues like ISEA, MIX, and Piksel, and they co-curated SYSTEM FAILURE, an exhibition on failure and new media for Apex Art (with Cara Rose DeFabio). Harris’s research has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Charlotte Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship and has been published in journals like Surveillance & Society and Curriculum Inquiry; and their essays have appeared in publications like Wired, The Guardian, NBC News, Slate, and Salon.  As a drag queen, she has performed at venues ranging from San Francisco’s legendary bar The Stud to SFMOMA and Saturday Night Live. She also co-founded the #MyNameIs campaign that challenged Facebook’s so-called “real names” policy, and is a board member with Drag Story Hour.  Harris holds an MFA in Digital Arts & New Media (UC Santa Cruz), and a PhD in Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Public & Applied Humanities at the University of Arizona.

Rapid Response Project 

Screen Queen Face Fail explores drag makeup as a tactic to confuse facial recognition algorithms by reconfiguring facial features through contouring and embellishment. During Phase 1, the project will draw on numerous examples of drag queens being mistagged as one another on Facebook, as well as the artist’s academic research on the intersections of queerness and surveillance to unpack their current black-boxed algorithms. This project develops new ways of countering harm by producing tactics that individuals and communities can accessibly engage—while also highlighting for the public many of the present dangers so that we can push for more collective justice.

Eyebeam models a new approach to artist-led creation for the public good; we are a non-profit that provides significant professional support and money to exceptional artists for the realization of important ideas that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nobody else is doing this.

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