Harris Kornstein


Harris is an artist, researcher, and drag queen examining digital culture and queer politics. Their art has been exhibited at festivals like ISEA, MIX, and Piksel, and they recently co-curated SYSTEM FAILURE, an exhibition on failure and new media for Apex Art (with Cara Rose DeFabio). As drag alter-ego Lil Miss Hot Mess, 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 leader in Drag Queen Story Hour. Lil Miss Hot Mess’s children’s book The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish was published in May 2020 by Running Press Kids. Harris’s writing has appeared in Wired, The Guardian, them., and Salon; their research in Surveillance & Society and a forthcoming anthology on Queer Data; and their art and activism has been covered in the New Yorker and Al Jazeera. Harris holds an MFA in Digital Arts & New Media (UC Santa Cruz), and is pursuing a PhD in Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU.

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.


Last updated: 12.07.2022
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