AK-47 vs. M16, 2015

Courtesy the artists | James Cohan Gallery

Fragments of AK-47 and M16 bullets, ballistics gel, custom vitrine, single-channel video on monitor (color, silent)
1 min 21 sec (video)
18 x 43 x 18.5 cm (ballistics gel block)

The Propeller Group is a multidisciplinary, multi-platform art collective based in Ho Chi Minh City and Los Angeles. Together, artists Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Phunam and Matt Lucero create ambitious projects that cross the boundaries of visual art, advertising and film. Named after the most famous Russian and American rifle. AK-47 vs. The M16, respectively, consists of a transparent ballistic gel block, where you see how two bullets shot from the rifles collided and fused, a crash at once frightening and spectacular. The accompanying video shows the collation at high speed.

"There is a myth that during the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War, two bullets from  opposing sides collided in mid-air and fused. Statisticians calculate the chances of this happening, even in tradition warfare, is 1 in a billion. A miracle.
Forward about 100 years, the AK-47 assault rifle was put to action in Vietnam, another civil war. It later becomes the most used assault rifle in the world due to its ease of use and devastating power. The US developed the M16 assault rifle in response to the AK-47 and since their first meeting, the two guns have been confronting each other on battlefields throughout the world. These assault rifles have become icons, long standing symbols of the clashing ideologies of the Cold War; the aftershocks of which are still felt to this day.
Our project called AK-47 vs. M16 is a multi-part project that consists of performance, sculpture,
video, a feature length film, drawings and even a bit of mythology. The main part revolves around the collision of two bullets: the 7.62mm projectile and the 5.56mm , shot from the two rifles respectively. This collision of these bullets, a sort of twisted historical re-enactment that lasted a fraction of a second, was caught in FBI ballistics gel block, a clear material that replicates the density of human tissue used to test the effectiveness of projectile weapons. The blocks reference minimalist sculpture, but are given unique identities by the empty spaces carved out of its insides by the flight of these two bullets. There are 21 gel blocks in the series. Each block was filmed using high-speed cameras. The project aspires to enable us to see that which is usually invisible to us."  - the Propeller Group

Phu Nam: *1974 in Saigon, Vietnam
Matt Lucero: *1976 in Upland, USA
Tuan Andrew Nguyen: *1976 in Saigon, Vietnam