Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Seeing Weapons Differently: The Disarm Project

Pedro Reyes is a man with a different perspective on art. He says, "I believe that the purpose of art is to come up with ways to transform the most negative instincts into creative instincts...I want my work to be useful for social and psychological transformation." And his work has bridged that gap. His newest project, called Disarm, literally uses what was once a vehicle of violence and transforms it into both a stirring piece of art and a fully functioning musical instrument.

The idea for this project began with a creative moment that is sometimes referred to as the "flash of insight." Reyes had the opportunity to visit a government recycling plant where weapons that had been seized were transformed into their component materials. But rather than the simple "garbage to art" model, Reyes conceived of creating the life-giving power of music through what were once destructive devices. He says quite plainly, "It is…the redemption of this metal that could have taken your life or mine. So, they are better as musical instruments."

Project Disarm bears another feature common to many truly creative endeavors: collaboration. Disarm is a striking combination of sculpture, music, and technology. As such, it required insight from experts in various fields. While Reyes provided the artistic instinct, developed the conceptual model, and shaped the visual images, he collaborated with other creatives to accomplish the finished work. 

The first set of weapons-turned-instruments was made with the help of an art foundation in Mexico City called Alumnos 47. Mechanizing the instruments was then accomplished by Cocolab, a group of specialists directed by Alejandro Machorro. During this process, Machorro identified his goal as “creating a series of mechanisms that would allow the musicians to produce music with the software that they always use … and at the same time translate that into a weapon hitting something to make a sound.” At this point, musicians were invited into the process, so that they might draw out the unique sounds particular to the weapons. Those sounds were then compiled and arranged in the studio. The final step was reuniting the perfected music with the instruments that originally produced it. In reuniting them, the creative team sought to bring the entire piece into a cohesive whole. Reyes says of the final product, “the instruments are making visual patterns that are related to acoustic patterns … you give plasticity to the musical universe that is hidden inside the computer.” In doing so, their collaborative creative efforts are synthesized into a piece that embodies a wider range of artistic expression.

In many ways, Reyes is the quintessential creative personality. He exemplifies each of the characteristics deemed by Robert Sternberg to embody the creative persona: lack of conventionality, aesthetic taste, flexibility, perspicacity, and drive for recognition. He is the master of several mediums (sculpture, architecture, video, and performance), a fact that lends itself to enhanced creative thought.

The works that Reyes produces often demonstrate both an integration of diverse fields and a certain flexibility of thought that makes it clear he isn't confined to one model of artistic expression. His lack of conventionality is obvious when one looks at the works he has created thus far, whether it is the Disarm project, The Museum of Hypothetical Lifetimes, or House for Future Caveman.  Reyes is a brilliant man, whose aesthetic taste and imagination have already carved out a place for him in some of the most prestigious galleries and museums around the globe. It is clear that both his field and the general public have recognized him as an incredibly talented creator, one who is likely to keep pushing the boundaries of artistic expression for years to come!

For more information about the work of Pedro Reyes and the Disarm project, visit his website or The Creator's Project.

1 comment:

  1. Talk about divergent thinking! This guy can look at something that has such defined uses and meaning behind it and make it into something completely different. I am amazed by his creativity and his willingness to "push creative boundaries" and find a new way to express. So, on a very simplistic and practical level, his ability to transform a weapon into a musical instrument is not only innovative - it hasn't been done before. And on a more thoughtful and figurative way, he is working to change the way that we see and perceive weapons and warfare. This creative way to promote peace and tranquility - through music - is beautiful and inspiring.


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