I have recently returned to working on themes around gun culture and crimes related to guns. After meeting with Helen Poole, of Northampton University, I was both wiser to the issues around gun crime in the UK and Europe and also fired up with ideas.
The first piece was an exploration of the value of craft and admiration of the craftsman’s work in making illegal guns. This exploration came from the realisation that makers of hand made guns and bullets often left identifying marks on the things they made, through the tools they used or the sheer pride in their work they left some mark that the work was theirs. This idea of venerating the art of making something or the beauty of what is made even through it was really a tool of terror and death is not new and others have explored those connections before. And that this pride in their work was also a source of their downfall as the police use such marks to track their makers.
I was fascinated by the fact that in the USA people bought individual pieces of guns as objects of admiration or desire rather than as practical parts of weapons.
This kind of fascination of the workings of guns seemed also to be reflected in the replicator guns that were made of wood and that fired rubber bands. There seems to be a fetishisation of the mechanics of these tools of death.
I started by making the rubber band guns in cardboard on the laser cutter. Then I made them in acrylic. I started exploring how they went together and what their individual parts looked like on their own. I was playing with them rather like they were lego or something similar, although they only functionally fitted together in one way, these hybrid creations still had some essence of gun and yet were not gun, not yet anyway. This idea that they might in someway evolve into a finished article, might grow up into a fully functioning gun; that these parts had some kind of potentiality. And so I played with these parts constructing shapes that seemed almost animal, almost gun but not quite either. And these became my blood guns.
They acquired their blood as another exploration into to trying to express how these pristine acrylic guns might represent the weapons of death that they imitating. I make fake blood and tried smearing it over and then between the parts as I built the acrylic guns. The effect was strangely powerful and so it migrated to the gun creatures and they became blood guns.
As I explored how they might be displayed I realised that in someways they were almost-guns which were at different stages, some more evolved than others. Some nearer the individual working parts and others nearer the fully formed guns and that is where the idea of representing them in a manner similar to the ascent of Man diagrams that 19th century Darwinians had used to try and explain the evolution of man and so I was going to express the evolution of my blood guns as something that matched that evolution or at least echoed it.