‘Violent Material’: an exploration of violent imagery in Brooklyn

"Violent Material." Credit: Steven Brahms.
“Violent Material.” Credit: Steven Brahms.

“Violent Material,” a photo series by Brooklyn-based photographer Steven Brahms, depicts men on the streets of Greenpoint and Williamsburg wielding guns in poses that recall action flicks and movie posters, their faces menacing and contorted, their hands tightly gripping a firearm that looks alarmingly real.

But is it alarming? That is the question Brahms poses: have these cinematic archetypes become so ubiquitous as to no longer elicit a truly startled reaction?

So he decided to recreate “these images that we are constantly being confronted by everywhere.”

“I just thought to myself, ‘I wonder what that would actually look like, if I saw a guy with a gun on my street,” Brahms said.

With 25 people shot on city streets this past weekend, it would seem that New Yorkers truly are constantly confronted with Violent Material.

According to the Daily News, this past weekend’s shootings make up five percent of this year’s approximately 440 shootings.

Brahms had a permit from the city, so his crew was accompanied by a uniformed NYPD officer. Still, he said, they drew the attention of various cops, both in uniform and plainclothes—or as Brahms described them, “the Yankees cops.”

“They always wear Yankees jerseys, have you noticed that?” he said.

Brahms found his subjects through Craigslist and various casting websites, and picked the applicants he thought echoed the iconic imagery of “the guy with the gun.”  

Even with professional talent, Brahms said, the shoot was “a little sketchy, because they’re holding guns in Brooklyn.”

“Some felt tough doing it, and then others felt somewhat scared doing it, because you don’t normally see a guy on the street at two o’clock in the afternoon holding a gun,” Brahms explained. “There was tension.”

But the process of taking the photos aligned with his initial feelings about the desensitizing effect of this kind of imagery of men with guns.

“That was what was so weird,” he said. “As soon as you take the picture, instantly [that tension] kind of deteriorates, and it’s not that interesting because you’ve seen it before and you’re seeing it again.”

In fact, the images appearing in Tuesday’s Metro will be yet another instance of that, Brahms noted: “It’s part of the project now,” he said. “It’s very cool.”

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.