5.12 - 6.2
Please join us for an opening reception:
This SATURDAY May 12.
7PM - 10PM
916 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
Fernwey is pleased to present, DL-44 an exhibition coinciding with the release of Kate Conlon's new book, DL-44: In Pursuit of the Perfect Replica.
DL-44: In Pursuit of the Perfect Replica is a non-fiction account that follows an international community of enthusiasts as they endeavor to create the first fully screen-accurate replica of the DL-44 Blaster, the weapon wielded by Han Solo in the 1977 film, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
The screen-used prop, a frankenstein of antique weaponry components and plastic miscellany, has been lost to time. Evidence of the object’s construction, contours, and dimensions exists only in rare on-set snapshots, film stills, and industry lore. For a group of Star Wars enthusiasts, the quest to recreate the DL-44 prop has amounted to a multi-decade forensic-style investigation. It is a story characterized by obsession and dogged persistence and punctuated with moments of euphoric revelation.
The book is published by Third Object in a first edition of 100. It is designed by Hour Studio and includes illustrations by Richard Blackwell.
‘Sorry about the Mess: Bricollaged Notes about Han Solo and the DL-44’
“the characteristic feature of mythical thought, as of ‘bricolage’ on the practical plane,
is that it builds up structured sets, not directly with other structured sets but by
using the remains and debris of events. -Claude Levi Strauss, (The Savage Mind)
Authentically accurate singular(s) prop? A ‘Real’ simulacrum?
The DL-44 prop was built from, among other things, weapons used during the World Wars. Like a religious relic, its objectness is rooted in the index of authentically violent (f)acts. Although altered and reconstituted for a mythic representation, its fragments footnote our own cultural violence from recent past.
The RPF’s conscientious pursuit of verisimilitude would imply that a bricollage could be constructed forensically, provided the component parts are indexical to the ‘original’. If this can be achieved, the object can potentially be alchemic, transmuting the object (and its carrier by extension) to become a representational form that transcends the limits of its component parts to become a mythic, or auratic, talisman. In this way their process is applied scientifically with an intension towards magic.
Perhaps intensity and sustained duration of focus may be the locus point of auratic presence?
Whatever the attraction to the DL-44 may be, it seems intrinsically bound up in the aura of the character that carries it. Say for instance, “Rebel Corporal #3” owned the DL-44. If Vader unceremoniously butchered this person in the opening credits with a stone cold light saber chop, would anyone care about this thing? Unlikely.
Like the DL-44, an object seen millions of times yet somehow unknowable, Han Solo is a bricolage, a combination of cultural debris. The character exists ‘a long time ago’ in an environment we posit to be our future. He embodies the rugged individualism of the Wild West’s mythos and the subversive DIY ethos of the punk subculture coming of age in the 70’s, yet he has the feathered hair of a mainstream disco dandy. He’s kind of a scumbag. After all, he is a criminal smuggler with an ambiguous moral compass that murders often, and without hesitation. He’s also a man of action racing around the galaxy sticking it to hegemonic tyrants in a tricked out galactic hotrod with his best pal, a chess playing space-bear. And while he’s a misanthropic cynical materialist with anti-social antipathy towards all forms of structured authority, he flourishes as a General in pursuit of a higher cause, risking life and limb to save friends, repeatedly. He’s an amalgam of multiple paradoxes going in many directions, simultaneously. But ultimately, perhaps the DL-44 is so seductive because it signifies and embodies the constitution of a character that has the kinetic agency needed to thrive in a cold and violent galaxy.
The closer one is able to get in producing the mythic ‘Hero’ prop, the closer one gets to becoming the representation of heroic virtue themselves? Does it go this far? Can it be this literal?
Perhaps this process of multiple iterations of individual DL-44s may be the only way to create auratic props that become mythical and ‘real’ to their producers. Afterall, 'Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.'