artist statement : the ungun project

I’ve been making unguns. I steal pictures of guns and make something else with them. Yes I’m trafficking in stolen guns when I do this. Aesthetic vandalism. Wasn’t the Matrix trilogy founded on that image of ‘bullet time’, the old Native American ghost dance promise that we could stop bullets?

The act of aesthetic vandalism neuters the image of the gun. The images become ~ if they were actual objects, were they actually fired, they would misfire, fire into themselves, or not fire at all.

Humans can express a nourishing connection with each other using guns only by relinquishing them.

I started working with still images, which I ‘broke’ using databending techniques. Then I started making gifs.Then I decided to make a longer video, pushing the image into word-definition space. The dance of illusion, projection, metaphor. I sampled audio from popular entertainment that uses guns so much in their narratives that, as a friend once put it, the movie is really “gun goes on adventure, gun beats the bad guys, gun gets the girl, gun gets revenge” . . .

I’m witnessing illusions of “political ramifications of ideas about guns” shatter social relationships between otherwise reasonable people. Histrionic reactions to the object, in many directions, prevent people from having reasonable conversation. The object, and whether or not or how it is regulated, shatters our ability to discuss the thing sanely.

trigger quilt

 

refreshing the the poetics of annihilation

Sometimes the mistake comes from seeing it all the way through to the end, without having begun.

The ease of overplanning facilitated by computers kills work the cradle. Once the imagination knows what the trip is going to be like, it doesn’t want to take it.

The drafting process is the first third of the path to having the work exist outside the mind/body. Editing is the second third. The audience meets the work, ‘publication’. The last third.

Each stage has its own demands, its own peculiar kind of sweat.

 

I live in a culture steeped in violence. There is violence in the work. Or there is consideration of recovering from violence, contending with it. I have made work that is psychologically or spiritually violent, yet I sit on it. Right now, I do not want to inflict it on an audience.

I am an American. Like other Americans I walk around with the blood of indiginous people on my feet, with the blood of slaves on my feet, with the blood of domestic violence on my feet. History soaked our nation’s birth with blood. We consume images and stories soaked with violence.

We can create peace. How do we create peace from a violent fabric? How does the transformation happen? Does it start with forgiving the past we have inherited, in order to simply let it drop, in order to make something new?

The poetics of annihilation are my name for looking at the violent stories of the 20th century, looking at our inheritance, and figuring out what to do with those stories. There is so much: the US government infecting african-americans with siphilus. The German government killing millions of civilians. The US dropping atomic bombs on Japan. The hundreds of millions of acts of war that individuals perpetrated at the behest of their governments.

How do we choose to witness this? We have our methods of recording, our films, our books, our internet. How can we face the weight of that violent fabric woven by those who went before us, and move forward without re-making that?

How can we, the talking monkeys, see, but not do?