All photos © Deborah Bay.
Deborah Bay photographed bullets that were fired into panels of plexiglass. She brought the panels in the studio and used a 120 macro lens on a Contax 645. On some of the images color was introduced by using gels or, occasionally, colored lights and glass. “Taking a cue from the cultural zeitgeist, I began thinking about ‘The Big Bang’ after seeing a sales display of bullet-proof plexiglass that had several projectiles embedded in it”, says Bay. “The plexiglass captured the fragmentation of the bullets and essentially provided a visual record of the energy released from the projectile on impact. Curious about its photographic potential, I returned a few days later with my camera and made some test shots. The bullets in the transparent plexiglass provided a way of seeing what the eye doesn’t normally see. In deciding to explore this concept further, I also was intrigued by the psychological tension created between the jewel-like beauty and the inherent destructiveness of the fragmented projectiles in the plexiglass. Many of the images resemble exploding galaxies, and visions of intergalactic bling sublimate the horror of bullets meeting muscle and bone. My interest in the project grew out of the pervasiveness of guns as cultural symbols and America’s long-held affection for guns as part of the country’s heritage. This seems particularly relevant in Texas where it’s estimated that there are 51 million firearms – two guns for every man, woman and child in the state.” – Deborah Bay
Professionals in law enforcement at the Public Safety Institute at Houston Community College fired the shots into the plexiglas used in this series.