The Propeller Group, ‘AK-47 vs. M16’, 2015, Singapore Art Museum (SAM)
The Propeller Group, ‘AK-47 vs. M16’, 2015, Singapore Art Museum (SAM)

On first viewing, 'AK-47 vs. M16' offers an interpretation of war as signified by two bullets – and representative of two conflicting ideologies – colliding into and against each other. As the bullets enter the block, the ballistics gel – meant to simulate the consistency of human flesh – flails and recoils on its perch. Devoid of flesh-tones, the translucent ballistics gel, captured violently reverberating in the video, feels theatrical, almost like a tango moving through water. Yet in tandem, the ballistics block of 'AK-47 vs. M16' – housed in its pristine vitrine – presents an image of violence frozen, and entrapped as a clinical and futuristic exhibit.

'AK-47 vs. M16' responds to an idea of the past that is folded into a present and perhaps even future state of being, where memories and illusions collide. The work speaks at once about notions of time, space, distance, conflict and impact.

Image rights: Singapore Art Museum collection

About The Propeller Group

Since 2006, Phunam, Matt Lucero, and Tuan Andrew Nguyen, aka The Propeller Group, have been merging visual art and mass media production to erode our trust in the images we are fed—through branding, marketing, and other forms of propaganda. As they describe: “We’re invested in trying to understand how ‘image’ is produced […] the public image as produced through media and advertising, and the creation of meaning and social affect.” Appropriately, they work out of studios based in Ho Chi Minh City and Los Angeles. As former graffiti artists, The Propeller Group brings a streets-eye perspective and guerilla approach to all of their work. Their projects include Television Commercial for Communism (2011), in which they challenged the world’s top advertising agencies to re-brand Communism, resulting in a frighteningly anodyne commercial that whitewashes the tragic ramifications of this infamous ideology.

Vietnamese & American, Founded 2006, based in Ho Chi Minh City & Los Angeles