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Harris Rosenblum’s “Inorganic Demons” by Toniann Fernandez
The emperor is dead. The God Emperor is a skeleton with a port for crude oil. He lives on the juice of empire. “Everyone understands that the hegemonic structure is broken,” Rosenblum says. In Inorganic Demons, Rosenblum presents relics of the fringe corners of the internet where the demons that threaten the fabric of social order are forged. The show’s title is a reference to Reza Negarastani’s Cyclonopedia, an experimental text about petrocapitalism. Rosenblum defines demons as robust narratives of new rules and identities that contradict existing structures. They are abiotic oils cultivated in Warhammer fandom wikis and 4chan pages, and through their magical, oppositional understanding of the mainstream social phenomena formed to give order to the base of universal quantum indeterminacy, these demons break reality.
Sacrificial Lamb atop An Altar is a mechanistic sacrifice, but Rosenblum’s iteration of this biblical figure transmutes it into something that resembles the machine. The lamb sits atop an altar that stands on deer legs. Its surface is inscribed with a custom script to generate G code for carving that utilizes the material properties of the tool rather than 3d modeling. Rosenblum imbues the machine with the desire to draw rather than coding in the geometry of the resulting image.
His lamb references the painting of the Christ figure by Josefa de Ayala in a modernized form of antique water gilding media that the artist synthesizes from what is presently available. Instead of hunting a rabbit to make rabbit skin glue, he uses individual serving bone broth. One would traditionally dig and refine clay from the river, but the color of this lamb comes from terra cotta face masks purchased at a health food store. Rosenblum highlights the limits of organic material availability under neoliberal capitalism in a number of contemporary revisions of ancient recipes synthesized formally by the artist through maximally technologically intricate processes. Earth and New Earth Miku features two sculptures of Hitsune Miku. One is made of raw clay that Rosenblum harvested from a Wendy’s construction site in Ohio when, for a moment, the pavement of his environment was punctured and mud became accessible. The other is made of PLA and iridescent eyeshadow. Both are made in the likeness of the pigtailed anthropomorphic Vocaloid software goddess. In Mourning Bracelet (for Hatsune), an historically accurate Victorian Mourning Bracelet uses electric blue synthetic hair from a Hatsune Miku Cosplay wig where the hair of a deceased human would usually be woven.
In The Blood I-IV, Rosenblum presents four bottles of vape juice synthesized from historically accurate monastic amaros that he made from ingredients including ash from burned tree branches that fell in a storm distilled into sodium hydroxide. They can be inhaled using Censer (Mechanical Squonk Mod), Rosenblum’s handmade vulcanized prosthetic latex vape. Its atomizer is etched with images of the Pox Rat Priest, an unofficial fan generated Warhammer race whose form also makes up the cavity of each vape liquid vial cap.
Beyond the lamb hangs Relic of the True Cross (Frostmourne). The 8 foot long sword is one of three swords inspired by reliquaries from World of Warcraft that Rosenblum built from polystyrene foam board insulation and tar. Each holds a vial of oil at its core: The Relic of the True Cross. Rosenblum tells me that he purchased this oil, a third class relic, on Etsy. The belief is that the oil has touched a first class relic, in this case, the true cross. By imbuing his swords with the oil, Rosenblum explores the transitivity of the power of God. In anointing these artifacts, a bottle of oil materially extends the lore of Christianity.
Infinite Generative Potential of God (Version 3) extends written lore. The sculpture features text generated by a Warhammer 40k fandom wiki trained GPT2 instance then translated into Latin. Alongside the text are images produced by a machine cross trained on images of Warhammer painting competition winners and the manuscript The Cloisters Apocalypse (1330) to generate images and lettering that would match with the illuminated manuscript. Rosenblum worked with multiple contractors to create the mechanical conditions to produce this piece. The resulting biblical text and imagery is inscribed onto goatskin parchment by an industrial plotting machine trained on contemporary lore and ancient imagery to produce new tales of discordant narratives and identities. A Version 4 is in the works. Rosenblum says the next iteration removes the human aesthetic decisions. He says his work is a conduit for the conditions of reality that are already present. He will create a plotter that holds the ability to generate new pages of Lore. Lore written by the plotter already features new names, places, and conditions. In the future, the plotter will feed the plotter to create more lore that will feed the plotter, the demon, ad infinitum.
Harris Rosenblum’s “Inorganic Demons” is on view at Sara’s.
2 E Broadway, NYC, April 14th - May 20th, 2023.