Collective Head
American Artist

American Artist reimagines the field of rocket science to foreground the ideas of science fiction author Octavia E. Butler, and their own roots in America’s Second Great Migration. The community of Altadena, California, home to Butler and Artist, and the neighboring NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will serve as a basis for this research. Ultimately, the project aims to build a machine in the form of the historic 1936 GALCIT Rocket Motor Test that incorporates Butler’s notion of “change.” American Artist’s project is called Collective Head.

American Artist, Server Rack (for Pigford), 2021, © American Artist, photo courtesy Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York

American Artist, Server Rack (for Pigford), 2021, © American Artist, photo courtesy Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York


In celebration of the opening of American Artist: Shaper of God at REDCAT, LACMA Art + Technology Lab grant recipient American Artist joins Octavia E. Butler scholar Ayana Jamieson to discuss Butler’s continued resonance in contemporary life and the author’s intersections with American Artist’s upbringing in Altadena, CA. Curator Adam Kleinman moderates the discussion followed by audience Q&A.

About the Artist

AMERICAN ARTIST makes thought experiments that mine the history of technology, race, and knowledge production, beginning with their legal name change in 2013. Their artwork primarily takes the form of sculpture, software, and video. Artist is a 2022 Creative Capital and United States Artists grantee, and a recipient of the 2021 LACMA Art + Tech Lab Grant. They are a resident at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn and a former resident of Red Bull Arts, Abrons Art Center, Recess, EYEBEAM, Pioneer Works, and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. They have exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art; MoMA PS1; Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; and Nam June Paik Center, Seoul. They have had solo museum exhibitions at The Queens Museum, New York and The Museum of African Diaspora, California. Their work has been featured in the New York Times, Artforum, and Huffington Post. Artist is a lecturer at Parsons, NYU, UCLA and a co-director of the School for Poetic Computation.

Art + Tech Lab Archive