American Artist, AI-generated image of the Mojave Test Area, hand-drawn diagram of GALCIT test replica by Dave Nordling, image courtesy the artist

American Artist: The Monophobic Response

June 21, 2024

American Artist: The Monophobic Response, presented by LACMA's Art + Technology Lab, is a meticulously crafted yet poetically altered re-creation of a pivotal 1936 static rocket engine test that initiated the United States' venture into space travel. Conceived by American Artist (b. 1989), The Monophobic Response is inspired by Octavia E. Butler’s 1993 novel Parable of the Sower, which is set in 2024. Drawing parallels between Butler’s fictive 2024 U.S. Presidential Race and the impending real-world election, the project raises a crucial question: in the year 2024, how do global citizens create strategies for survival when technological advances introduce dystopian elements into a bleak world?

The first phase of this project was a special performance that took place on June 9, 2024, in the Mojave Desert. This performance explored the interstellar exodus by members of the Earthseed community—a fictional religion central to Butler's Parable of the Sower—where the protagonists aspire to "take root among the stars.” Led by American Artist and a group of collaborators, this narrative is a poignant reflection on modern aspirations to colonize Mars and escape an overdeveloped and unequal Earth. Unfolding in the imagined dystopic year of 2024, American Artist's performance featured a rocket engine test that was fired in a desolate Californian landscape, creating eerie juxtapositions between Butler's prescient visions and current realities.  

The Monophobic Response will reconvene in November 2024 with an installation at LACMA as part of Getty's PST ART: Art & Science Collide. The L.A. presentation will be staged with artifacts from the rocket test, including the authentic replica of the 1936 rocket engine, a film, related artwork, and various documentation chosen by American Artist. Additionally, the installation will be accompanied by a public program where key critical thought leaders will respond to American Artist’s cinematic re-creation of the 1936 rocket test. 

“I joined the Octavia E. Butler fandom when I learned that we attended the same high school—albeit 40 years apart. We are living in the reality Butler warned us about. This project is a case study of how to pay respect to history without reproducing it. It’s about removing the hierarchy of knowledge between academics, aunts, uncles, historians, students and childhood friends. If you grew up where I grew up, you’re an expert on that place,” said American Artist.

The Monophobic Response is co-shaped by Ayana Jamieson, Adam Kleinman, and Chester Toye in collaboration with LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab and with support from LACMA, Getty’s PST ART, and from Hyundai Motor as an extension of The Hyundai Project: Art + Technology at LACMA. American Artist was a Grant Recipient of the Art + Technology Lab in 2021.

The Monophobic Response is the continuation of a multi-year cycle of ongoing work entitled Shaper of God by American Artist. The series commenced in 2021 with an online “research machine” that drew connections between our world and enduring themes in Octavia E. Butler's work. This led to the 2022 Shaper of God exhibition at REDCAT, featuring newly commissioned work in video, immersive installation, sculpture, and drawing, pulling from Butler's novels, life, and the experiences of African-diasporic communities in Los Angeles. The Monophobic Response continues to delve into how these and other communities are impacted by and reconcile with the colonial desires of those in power, as depicted through the alternate timeline of Artist's rocket test and its presentation in L.A.

American Artist: The Monophobic Response will be on view November 1–4, 2024, in BCAM, Level 2.

American Artist: The Monophobic Response is made possible with support from Getty through its PST ART: Art & Science Collide initiative, and from Hyundai Motor as an extension of The Hyundai Project: Art+Technology at LACMA, a long-term joint initiative exploring the convergence of art and technology. 


American Artist: The Monophobic Response is among more than 60 exhibitions and programs presented as part of PST ART. Returning in September 2024 with its latest edition, PST ART: Art & Science Collide, this landmark regional event explores the intersections of art and science, both past and present. PST ART is presented by Getty. For more information about PST ART: Art & Science Collide, please visit