Modern SportExhibit and Catalogue
The credo, “guns don’t kill people,
people kill people” is ubiquitous.
With one bumper-sticker argument, gun advocates ingeniously removed firearms, the tactile, designed objects, from the gun control debate.
Since, advocates have had much success by sticking to their guns, purporting that they are a morally-agnostic tool. Any tool, they argue, can be abused. If a government prohibits the sale of a firearm (any firearm) — what’s next? Shall we also outlaw hammers? Automobiles?
The holes in this logic are .950 caliber, especially when confronted with the outstanding lethality of the AR-15-style assault rifle. Whether directly fashioned after weapons of war or a product of convergent evolution in the civilian market that achieves the same end, these weapons fire bullets at 3,250 feet per second — two and a half times faster than a 9-mm handgun, and nearly three times the speed of sound. Instead of cutting through human tissue in a clean, straight line, bullets at this speed displace the matter around them like a shock wave. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange. The engineering term for this displacement is “cavitation.”
If a bullet from a 9-mm handgun passes through the torso and nearly misses the aorta, the wound is survivable (provided the victim receives care quickly.) A bullet from an AR-15-style rifle need only to strike in the vicinity of the aorta and the cavitation shock wave pulverizes the artery beyond repair.2 Worse, assault rifles are semi-automatic, dispatching bullets as quickly as one can pull the trigger; about 2 to 3 times per second. An average shooter can easily empty an AR-15 magazine, 30 rounds, in 15 seconds, every one of them supersonic.
In the intervening years since the Columbine massacre in 1999, a new narrative has become painfully ubiquitous— that of the “mass shooter,” killing as many of their fellow Americans as they can.
Mass Shooter / Modern Sport seeks to question if the shooter’s chosen “tool” (or indeed, any tool) is morally-agnostic; reclaiming these designed objects from abstract argument and reinstating them in shared space, at 1:1 scale.
This is a catalogue for an exhibit that never happened.
Modern Sport, the exhibit, is a speculative endeavor. The show did go up long enough to take photographs, thanks to the generosity of Access Gallery in Denver, CO, and especially to their executive director Damon Y. McLeese. I enthusiastically encourage you to support the gallery and their mission.
Find more about them at accessgallery.org.
The printed publication serves as both the catalogue for the exhibition, and as an exhibition in itself. The nature of this book ensures that every object in the exhibit is reproduced in 1:1 scale.
While the experience of each exhibit — one architectural, one sequential — differs considerably, I hope the empathetic response is the same.
nathan dot young at temple dot edu