AK47 vs. M16 (2015) is a project The Propeller Group (TPG) began working on in 2014 as they became increasingly interested with the idea of two opposing forces in conflict.
“The project [was] inspired by a bullet that had collided with another that we came across on a battlefield of the American Civil War,” explains Tuan, one of the group’s members. At this point the group became obsessed with “what it meant for those two bullets to collide, and applying that idea to the guns that were being used in the Cold War era.”
In a highly controlled environment overseen by ballistics experts, an AK47 and M16 automatic assault rifle were positioned towards each other, and triggered simultaneously to discharge their ammunition into a gelatinous block. The block, made specifically for ballistic testing to mimic the density of human tissue, has the ability to captures the impact and collision down to a fraction of a second in what the artists refer to as the “stalemate of a moment…like a freeze frame.” The entire project is comprised of 21 unique sculptures each featuring a collision of two bullets inside a block and a video filmed at 20,000 frames per second.
AK47 vs.M16, a collaboration with Grand Arts in Kansas City, which was also included in the 56th Venice Biennale and exhibited as a solo installation at Grand Arts in Kansas City, MO in 2015, originated when the group began looking into the birth of the M16 and an AK47, the two main assault rifles that were employed by the United States and Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and how they represent a larger East/West cultural and social duality. AK47 vs. M16 creates a visually arresting manifestation of the political and social power struggles that dominated the Vietnam and Cold War, as well as a comment on the today’s perceptions on opposing sides of conflict.