The Wysing Gallery commissioned Zinzi Minnott, an artist who works with dance and its relationship to politic, to make a video. Seen through many lenses, race, queer culture, gender and class, dance is, according to Minnott, always political. In her video piece, Gun Fingers and Oblique Bullets (2017), classic jungle music plays and a series of abstract images fade in and out of one another. An image person dancing with ‘gun fingers’ if revisited throughout the video. Following this film, I decided to look into the concept of ‘gun fingers’ in the hope of finding where else it is referenced within music and/or dance culture.
The Urban Dictionary (online….
“to form a gun wid ur fingers, connoting holding a real gun. Used in raves when u think a lyric was hot or a tune, u get out ur gun fingers and shoot for the sky - dats tune was the shit... gun fingers..bap, bap,bap!!"
My research led me to look at gangster rap videos, where ‘gun fingers’ are used to signal a very different message. Instead of exclusively signalling their appreciation of the lyrics and music, rappers and their entourage stare out at the viewer and shoot at them with gun fingers.
There is a shift from appreciation of the music to a threat of violence yet there appears to be some referencing to child’s play, an acting out of scenarios whereby hand gestures and imaginary settings stand in for the real thing.
By freeze-framing the gangster videos and capturing stills I was able to analyse the kinds of gun people were pointing at me and there were as many gun types as there were people. The videos undoubtedly came from the USA where owning a gun is legal so having access to them might have made the simulation of ‘acting as one’ easier. So I thought it might be interesting to see what a British persons pretend gun would look like.
A series of 91 photographs were produced as a result of my standing in the Linea Gallery for the afternoon and stopping people walking past and asking them to show me their best ‘gun fingers’. My findings are as follows. No one refused, (apart from one technician), with many asking me about the project. The types of guns people adopted seemed to run along gender lines too with not one women deciding to be, or have, a machine gun, the only machine guns were from the men. Countless women were worried about chipped nail varnish and dirty hands even though they knew they could not be identified from the photo as I was only photographing hands. One man came back and asked if he could use his ‘gun fingers’ to mark out a peace sign instead.
Everyone had a gun in them.
The fetishization of guns merits further research.