Pedro Reyes - Artist
PEDRO REYES
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Instruments made from de-commissioned weapons
Lisson Gallery, London
Disarm is a second generation of instruments built after Imagine (2012), also using the remnants of weapons that the Mexican army had collected and destroyed. The second series is made up of eight instruments that were created in collaboration with a team musicians and Cocolab, a media studio in Mexico City. These machines are mechanical musical instruments; they can be programmed and operated via computers, making them capable of performing music concerts with compositions prepared beforehand.

The various parts of these automatons are recognizable as shotguns, pistols and rifles; while they no longer pose the threat of physical harm, they keep the sheer might of their most recent purpose. Now, these former arms strum, ring, crash, hum, and vibrate at different volumes and intensities to express elaborate compositions with a wide range of sonic nuances.

Making art about guns, you can easily be seduced by the object itself, so the result may wind up praising or glorifying the object rather than critiquing it. Because of the pacifist purpose of this project, the message has to be clear so that the idea has currency for a general audience.

A good example to mention here is that of Matsuo Bashô, the Edo period Japanese poet. One day, while walking through a field of dragonflies one of Bashô's students composed a haiku:

Red dragonflies
Remove their wings
And they are pepper pods

Bashô told his student that this was not a true haiku, correcting the poem thus:

Red pepper pods
Add wings
And they are dragonflies

For Basho, what constitutes a haiku is not only its technical construction, but also a moment of insight; when an object or image is seen in a new light or when something is added or revealed in a meaningful way.
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