By Jessica Fenlon


JESSICA FENLON San Francisco CA > Chicago IL

Ungun, 2013, DV, 6:36 min

Jessica Fenlon’s Ungun is built from animated sequences of 5000 odd glitch images, using several hundred source images from the internet that were sampled and audio collaged from popular films. She chose films with narratives in which guns are prominent as instruments of adventure and justice, romance and revenge. The artist considers her appropriative process as neutering the destructive power of guns. The glitches and degradation of the images transforms the weapons into beautiful but dysfunctional objects that, if used, would “misfire, fire into themselves, or not fire at all.”

Fenlon has observed how differences of opinion on gun rights and regulation devolve into shouting matches and shatter social relationships between otherwise reasonable people. She has seen how behavior changes when there is an actual gun in the room and how discussion becomes “squelched, false and polite.” When the topic of gun rights arises, silence again helps avoid controversy and conflict. Curiously, the broken nature of the imagery in Ungun seemed to break that silence for those who saw the work in development. People would tell her stories about their experiences with guns, as if seeing them fractured loosened their tongues to talk about their service in war, their despair at a family member’s passion for guns, or other personal matters. Such observations and responses strengthened her rationale for making the work: “When the gun leaves the room, the underlying tension of held breath walks out with it. So, I make unguns. I steal pictures of guns and make something else with them. Yes, I’m trafficking in stolen guns when I do this. Aesthetic vandalism.”