Just because a piece of glass might claim to be "bulletproof" doesn't necessarily mean that it's actually, well, bulletproof. But if your bullet-resistant glass is sturdy enough, that speeding bullet will usually just end up lodged in layers of polycarbonate. That's what intrigues photographer Deborah Bay.
She recently found herself struck by the unexpected beauty of a bullet lodged in a slab of plexiglass. Speaking to The Smithsonian, Bay explains:
I thought it was intriguing. You could see all the fragments of metal. You could see the spray of the shattered plastic and then you could see the trajectory lines that were running through the panel of plexiglass.
Eventually, Bay recruited the help of some friendly cops, who gladly obliged her by shooting off a veritable cornucopia of bullets into bulletproof, plexiglass panels. Then, moving the glass to a black backdrop, she used a medium format camera with a macro lens and creatively coloured lighting to produce the series entitled "The Big Bang". As The Smithsonian notes:
The patterns that the projectiles leave on the plexiglass on impact look like galaxies, stars and meteors flying through space. The more the photographer combs collections of images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, the more she sees the resemblance. It’s this intuitive leap from the macro to the cosmic that inspired the series’ clever name.
While undeniably beautiful, the photographs are also highly topical — gun control currently being a major point of partisan contention. And Bay is very aware of this, particularly as a resident of Texas, a state with 51 million registered firearms. The irony of the title paired with such a destructive subject matter highlight's Bay's ultimate goal: “I just want people to think about what these bullets can do.”
Pictures: Deborah Bay