Repurposing the Tools of Destruction

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Oct 5, 2013 | By Brandon Workman

Mexico City-based visual artist Pedro Reyes has transformed a cache of confiscated weapon pieces into a stunning combination of industrial-chic sculptures and musical instruments. In terms of form, these sculptures are awe inspiring in their conversion from deadly weapon to repurposed beauty. 

They are raw and visually arresting. The form aligns well with society’s current focus on the superiority of the artisanal, but the real beauty lies in the function: These instruments actually work.

Imagine stumbling upon a pile of confiscated Mexican Drug Cartel weapons—they're heavy and cool, and as you touch them you try to not recoil at the conflicting emotions of revulsion and wonder. The forged pieces of metal capture the destruction we're capable of inflicting—crimes of the violence, greed, power.

And to most of us, these de-commissioned weapons are solely a relic of viciousness. But, Pedro Reyes sees them as having potential for something more.

Aided by the technological specialists at Cocolab, Reyes has transformed the weapons into an orchestra of sculptural, performing instruments. Each weapon was viewed as a potential musical part and tested to see what pitches and sounds it could produce. 

A computer then categorized these sounds and a mechanized routine was set up to play the musical composition. As the sculptures were assembled, a range of instruments with a computerized conductor emerged.

The result: a perfect combination of music, sculpture, and technology.

There’s a timelessness about the installation that illustrates the warring sides of our humanity: our instinct to create juxtaposed by our need to destroy. Often, we hear of the "weaponization" of every day objects, but rarely are the advancements in technology reversed to show the possibilities of the creative spirit.

Through Reyes’ vision, those possibilities seem as infinite as they are beautiful.

Images via Pedro Reyes and This is Colossal.