Monday – gun day

Trying to find out details of the gun that killed Quonterio Davis, a Jefferson, Missouri resident, in Jan 2017.

I want to know what guns were used in the first 59 killings of 2017, but I’m not sure if that information is going to be available. I checked the incident material on the Gun Violence Archive source list that gives the name and location of the victims, as well as links to police and new reports for each killing. Quonterio Davis, a Jefferson, Missouri resident, is the first person on my narrowed-down January 1, 2017 list (from last week’s post). The suspected killer is also named, but the weapon he used was not. A bit more digging found that Davis was shot with what a witness called a “chrome semi-automatic pistol”. I have not found a more detailed description, and I think that might involve having to find court documents.

In this research I think I’m likely to find that pretty common –  getting knowledge of the weapon or the rounds is maybe a bit more intel than people want to know. Then again, I may yet be surprised.

One thing that did not surprise was that the crime involved a hand gun. Wikipedia: “According to the FBI, in 2012, there were 8,897 total firearm-related homicides in the US, with 6,404 of those attributed to handguns.” Contributor Aude has even created a chart to visualise this:

By Aude – Self-published work by Aude, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1367669

An initial attempt at trying to find out the most popular handgun in the U.S. (at this stage, it looks like it’ll be a pistol,) to use as a proxy for a series of ‘unidentifiable pistol’ works, indicates that it could be another entire research project. Luckily, I found another great data source this week to add to the heavy-hitting Gun Archive. It’s called Statista: The Statistics Portal has Firearms in the U.S. – statistics and facts.

Ring Master

Melissa does not claim to be a master of the ring form, she admits in this post to only having made about a dozen of the suckers, but others in the show are far more masterful. Get along!

No, not me, I’ve made maybe a dozen rings in my career – but at least four of them will be on show at Bilk Gallery for the opening of Ring Master tonight! This group show of rings by makers from all over the world is a part of the Design Canberra Festival. To get into some jewels designed in AutoCad and handmade by me (with some laser cutting involved, though not in the little number above mind, it was hand-sawn all the way) you’d better get in quick 😉

Did I mention the show is on til Christmas eve? Timing!

Save

Monday – gun day

Documenting guns in the USA.

Just back from Canada, where you’ll be happy to know there are 30.8 guns per 100 residents, versus the USA, where there is over 100 guns per 100 residents. (see the above link for Wikipedia’s take, I’ve seen conflicting statistics that put the US rate at higher than the 101 guns per 100 people listed there.)

Anyway, that’s just a gentle aside.

Today’s topic is the beginning of my research for a new work. I wanted to see the first 50 or so gun deaths in the US for 2017. Cut to the absolutely incredible Gun Violence Archive, and their overwhelming score sheet. Naively I went in and just tried to get data on all the gun deaths of 2017 thus far, but unsurprisingly that’s too big a number; the website will only output results that run to about 18 web-pages, give or take. I had to narrow my search query, so I thought I’d go in for just the month of January. That was too big, so eventually I went for the first 10 days of January and got what I wanted and exported that to CSV.

Turned out that list gave me more than six times the amount of data than what I was in pursuit of. If I want to find out about the first 60-odd gun deaths in the USA for 2017, I only need to get the data of January 1st. The Gun Violence Archive’s count for gun deaths on January 1, 2017, is 63. Sixty-three lives lost to guns in one day, across the country (interactive Map of Jan 1 deaths).

As a microcosm of one year of killing (here’s just one of several web articles to put that at about 33,000 deaths annually), it’s doing well so far – the biggest single event this list says four people died, so it includes at least one mass shooting, which on average happens here on nine out of every ten days. The thing that actually surprised me in the key statistics for a year’s worth of deaths is that about two thirds of gun deaths annually in the US are suicides. (I don’t watch news or read newspapers regularly any more, so I can be surprised by the obvious sometimes.) I hear about so many other grave mistakes and serious offenses in the media I do follow that I missed that incredible statistic.

At least at first glance, the interactive map of 63 deaths seems to echo the general spread of the deaths over the country in the year to date, which Gun Violence Archive has prepared:

http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/charts-and-maps – October 23, 2017

It’s a big map. A quick guess is that the clusters echo the population distribution, but that’s research for another day.

 

Interesting aside: this map reminds me of a piece that I saw recently, which overlaid the locations of hate groups onto a map of the USA . It was a piece by artist (and recent Betty Bowen Award runner-up) Deborah F Lawrence  at the Speaking Out exhibition (disclaimer, yes, I’m in it).

Save

Ring Master – opening next Friday, Oct 27th

Ring Master – I’ve just sent more rings to Bilk for this upcoming show!

Ring Master, an exhibition exploring the notion and designs of the humble (and not so humble) ring. Featuring rings by; Helen Britton, Julia deVille, Johannes Kuhnen, Helen Aitken-Kuhnen, Carlier Makigawa, Godwin Baum, Julie Blyfield,  Melissa Cameron, Cinnamon Lee, Chris Robertson, Sean O’Connell, Jane Bowden, Bin Dixon-Ward, Philip Noakes, Vincent Pontillo-Verrastro, Mikki Trail, Sam Mertens and Mio Kuhnen (and many more).

This year Bilk Gallery is pleased to be part of Design Canberra Festival 2017 with Ring Master, an exhibition exploring the notion and designs of the humble (and not so humble) ring.

Monday – Gun day

Monday – gun day, 2. Click through to see what 33,636 guns looks like.

Wow, a whole week has rolled around without an intervening post – sorry team, that wasn’t mean to happen, but the Northwest Jewelry and Metals Symposium took over my focus late last week (from making works for Bilk Gallery in Canberra – more on that soon…) and the whole weekend, and what can I say, it was a CORKER! The best yet. If you’re ever in the area for the third weekend in October, you HAVE to head to it. And I can say this with unbiased hand to unbiased heart, as I’ve been off the organising committee a full two symposia now 😉

So, it’s Monday – gun day, part II.

I have a bunch of gun research that stretches back to 2012, which I’ve decided to start sharing, and lucky for y’all, this seems to be the obvious place. I’m not trying to trigger anyone, so if you’re not keen on following this line of thought, know that on Monday (Tuesday in some time-zones,) there will be posts generated as a result of my past and ongoing gun research.

The above images comes from a really interesting post that I first saw a couple of years ago, in 2015. I see it semi-regularly, as the post has been open in my web-browser since the day I came across it. I found it really arresting, but I didn’t know what to do with it. It’s so affecting, however, that I now count it amongst my always-open tabs (there are a random assortment of site alongside this, not just my mail client.) When I occasionally run across it, I’ll again scroll through to see what 33,636 guns looks like.

The author of this really unusual ‘article’, Matt Haughey writes; “According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2013 all deaths due to firearms in the US amounted to 33,636 people.” He found a unique and very compelling way to visualise this, which proves really ‘sticky’ (you know what I mean?), at least to my brain.

I hope you take a look.

Monday – gun day

Melissa’s work from 2013/14 called The Gun has sold to the Museum of Art at the University of Iowa

In a not-so-happy coincidence, on the same day that many of us found out about the latest mass killing in the USA, I received the cheque for the sale of my Gun work to the University of Iowa Museum of Art.

So here’s a little about work, for which I began the research in December 2012, and finally finished the last part of about a year later, in early 2014.

Gun (2013/2014) consists of:
154 @ 30 rpm – scale 1:4
60m
(scale 1:4)
AR-15 (bandolier)

The work Gun (a suite of three wearable pieces) is from the Escalation series. The works in Escalation are each made from domestic objects, taken out of their usual context and transformed into loaded jewels. Together the complete series reflects thousands of years of human history, the history we have of making weapons of war. The works (there is at least two wearable items for each ‘piece’) are loosely grouped into branches, based on the proximity to which the assailant would have to have to the victim (and vice versa) when used, which makes the whole Escalation project into a kind of family tree of tools for killing.

The Gun work is the Sword’s companion on one branch, as I see the gun as the successor to the sword in close combat situations. Rifles were the earliest effective firearms, so it was not a huge leap to use the Bushmaster XM15-E2S as my gun archetype. Sold as a hunting rifle in the USA, it is “a variant of the AR-15 first built by ArmaLite,”[i] “as an assault rifle for the United States armed forces.” (also known as the M16)[ii]. This Bushmaster is the weapon that was used for the Newtown massacre in 2012. If you see the whole series together, it becomes more obvious that this piece is the only one in my Escalation series that does not focus the wartime outcomes of a particular weapon. In making this exception, I wanted to make the point that these military grade weapons are available far too easily to the citizens of the US, and thus are in the homes and lives of ordinary people, which results in the premature deaths of this country’s most vulnerable citizens.

I made this piece from a strangely long and slightly medical-looking tray I bought new, at Daiso. I gave it 30 full-sized NATO shells (I chose there to depict the military round rather than the hunting round made by Remington), as 30 is the magazine’s capacity. I made 77 holes in the tray in the unfired bullet diameter, and strung the 77 cutouts on steel cable, which together add up to the 154 bullets expended within the school. The gun is made at 1:4 scale, making it very obvious to wear and more realistic than the miniature gun bling that is occasionally in fashion. The neckpiece with the 77 cutouts is 15m/40′ long, to represent, again at 1:4 scale (full scale being at least 60m/197′) the minimum distance that the shooter would have traversed inside of the school. I read the police report and literally plotted the shooter’s movements onto a floor plan of the school that I found online, to calculate the approximate length.

Finally, in all the pictures that accompany this series, I am wearing the works. They are photos I took of myself, by myself, and when these works are shown, they were a part of the display. It is important that the works, and the troubling histories that they represent, are on me. Like they are on all of humanity. And I for one am not at all happy about it.

[i] ‘AR-15’. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, 26 April 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=AR-15&oldid=551188045.

[ii] Ibid.

Save