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What bullets look like after they explode

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  September 12, 2013 11:42 AM

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In June I wrote about photographer Sabine Pearlman, who has created a revealing series of photographs of cross-sections of bullets. Pearlman's images make the fearsome bullet seem stolid and full of integrity. Houston-based photographer Deborah Bay creates the exact opposite effect in her series, "Big Bang," which shows bullets exploding into vivid, fragmented designs.

To create the images, Bay photographed sheets of plexiglass lodged with bullets that had been fired by police officers at the Public Safety Institute at Houston Community College. If you came to them unknowingly, the images would seem wholly beautiful, like the first one, below, of an exploded .44 Magnum round that resembles the ethereal, distant beauty of the crab nebula. But some objects are too firmly rooted in their human context to be fully transformed into art- it's impossible to look at bullet fragments without immediately thinking about the soft places they tend to lodge. Three of Bay's images are on display at the Cosmos exhibit at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, which runs through March 2, 2014.

The images, from the top: .44 Magnum, .45 hollow point, 9mm Glock, and a Five-seveN II.

Bay 44 Magnum.jpg

Bay .45 hollow point.jpg

Bay 9mmGlock.jpg

Bay Five-seveN II.jpg

Images courtesy of Deborah Bay.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

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Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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