Out of the nothingness of night they tell
Our need of guns, our servitude to strife.1

These photographs are part of a collection of work exploring the shifting violent ingredients of the American Empire. I live in the United States, where weapons are pervasive and mass-produced, but also polarizing. For some, they are a focus of zealotry, representing freedom and hegemony. For others, they mean damage and fear.

In this work, I aim to confront the terrifying by presenting these efficient and utilitarian products.2 These weapons become vessels that represent the distillation of our aspirations and our fears, tools to allow us to better scrutinize the ideology they embody. I chose these objects because they can be both seductive and chilling. They can be thrilling, but are designed to injure, defeat, or destroy. By displaying these guns and bombs in finely detailed photographic studies, I aim to strip them of rhetoric to expose the inherent tension in their being: that we have engineered these things to kill ourselves.

With Matériel, I want to ask: is our thrall to weapons innate? Do these artifacts represent a cultural zenith or will they prove to be totems of a species brought to collapse by its own hubris?

1 A Prayer from 1936 / Siegfried Sassoon
2 Each work depicting a gun is titled with its UPC (Unique Product Code).

Installation Views & Selected Media


2017 / Matériel / Gow Langsford / Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

All work © Jono Rotman.