(The Head Shot)
Curtis James Miller

Trajectory is made withtwo materials. Steel for the bullet with visual indication of machined portions, and cast iron used for its romantic quality of being from the Iron Age.  The human link to the iron is its necessity of it in our blood to maintain life.  Also the Iron has a “godlike” presence in meteors and meteorites that periodically rain down to Earth from the heavens of space.  This contrast between two similar metals links the two figures together in the composition, regardless of the lack of a visual presence of the second person.

On a design and elemental level, the basis of this sculpture is the element of line.  From the first initial drawing to the armature, the relationship between the curved line (the figure) and the straight line (the Arrow) are at the root of my artistic intentions.  Contrast in the grace of a curved-line to the rigidness of a straight-line represent the interaction of two entities, in this case two people.  This is the foundation of the overall composition, and it is what creates the drama and brings the viewer into a narrative. The composition and purposeful use of line quality and direction ultimately make Trajectory work on a conceptual level. Without this compositional framework the story is less dramatic, less interesting and therefore less meaningful.

The figure himself is modeled in a verity of different ways. One is that he looks physically capable and strong, or as a person capable of defending oneself.  This is with the exception of the missing arms. This is a metaphor illustrating the total inability of defending oneself from a bullet to the head.   It also works with the composition by keeping the line minimal, and by focusing a distinctive directional quality.  The position of the body is deceptively placed.  A human standing upright on two feet with their central nervous system instantly shut down falls in a somewhat grotesque manner.   It is “falling on top of your self”, as if your skeleton were removed and you fell into a pile (although this can change due to many factors including distance, the angle the bullet was fired from, velocity, mass, and the density of the bullet). This figure is falling more like a four-legged creature would fall to their side; the speed of the decent increases as the weight of the body also starts to increase as gravity pulls it past a vertical center of balance.  This is overlapped with an added dancer like grace, or pose, and reinforced with emulation of the classical heroic nude.

The story told by the two lines is the story of killing. One person has been shot by another person in the head in a premeditated incident.  However the whole story is not as straightforward as the last two sentences might suggest.  This story has glorified and romanticized the use of violence with many visual clues, and from a variety of perspectives.  War, violence, and killing have, in many ways and in many cultures throughout our history as a species, been seen as a glorious achievement. Some examples of this glorification are the wars of the Romans, Alexander the Great, Ganges Kahn, and the victories against the Nazis in World War II. In this sculpture the only individual seen is a victim who has been shot in the head. The straight line or the arrow is the indication of a bullet and path through his head. The length of the tail is an indication of velocity, and is in conjunction with the base that the sculpture is mounted to.  This shapes the whole composition into one line.  Looking back through history the removal of an enemy combatants head has been symbolic of victory achievement and power. In the Japanese Samurai culture, long after the Samurai were disbanded the Japanese military held the practice of removing the enemy’s head with a sword.  This went on as recently as WWII, during the Bataan Death March (as accounted by U. S. Marine Survivors). In modern warfare and with the invention and development of the firearm, shooting a person in the head has become a level of achievement that mirrors the traditional practice of beheading. This is for two reasons, neither of which is surprising. The first is the location of the brain.  A “head shot” is a sure-fire way to put someone out of commission, and in time expedient fashion. The second reason concerns marksmanship.  Because the head is proportionally smaller than the main body, moves the most frequently, and in the most unpredictable directions in contrast to the rest of the body, it is a challenging target. These two factors raise the stakes in setting goals as a marksman to shoot a person in the head.  One can see an example of this in paper targets that place numerical point systems on a human silhouette target as a way of setting goals to improve your skills in shooting. Also, first person shooter video games often award more points for how many “head shots” a player has accomplished.

Overall, Trajectory is a dance between two people locked in combat.  The action of the victor will either be championed or condemned by the viewer.