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These Strangely Beautiful Pictures Show What Happens When Bullets Hit Things

They may look like constellations in space, but these pictures actually show something closer to home: the after-effects of gunfire. Unlike the horror of the Sandy Hook and Aurora shootings, though, the images have a certain beauty about them–the randomness of intense energy barreling through plexiglass.

Photographer Deborah Bay calls the series “The Big Bang.” She says she became interested in guns after seeing a sales display of bullet-proof glass with several heavy rounds in it. “I was particularly interested in how the transparent plastic captured the fragmentation of the bullets and provided a dramatic way of seeing ballistic power outside the usual frame of reference,” she says.


She describes the “psychological tension” between the “jewel-like beauty” of the images, and the “inherent destructiveness of the fragmented projectiles in the plexiglas.”

Bay doesn’t want to detail her own gun control views: “I think it’s up to the viewer to interpret the work,” she says. But the photographer does ask us to “realize the impact any of these bullets would have on muscle and bone,” and to appreciate how pervasive guns have become in America. In her home state of Texas, she notes there are an estimated 51 million guns–two for every man, woman and child.

The bullets pictured here were fired peacefully–at a Public Safety Institute at Houston Community College–by law enforcement professionals. Bay took the actual photos back at her studio later.

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