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View Full Version : Building an AK.. as art! My MFA thesis project and Kickstarter.


chead
02-18-2012, 12:43 PM
I'm posting this here because this forum is probably the most familiar with this idea, and it's also my "home forum". If a mod wants to move it, that's okay!

I thought you guys might be interested in this project since CalGuns has been an important part of its genesis! My goal is to build an AMD-65 pistol from a flat and create an instruction set like you might get with Ikea furniture. Ultimately the pistol will presented in a gallery with the documentation (photo and video) and the instruction set will be printed in large-format and mounted as well as distributed via the internet and as a small booklet. CalGuns is going to get a special thanks my Artist's Statement that will be posted in the gallery since funding or not, this project couldn't have been started let alone completed without the support of these forums and the community.

This project is for my MFA thesis at UCSD, and it's a departure from my past work in some ways. It's a little more politically "controversial", and I haven't worked with physical objects much since I'm primarily a programmer. The crux of the idea is that we can build our own firearms as a defense agains the loss of our liberties. More than that, we can teach each other how to do so (hence build parties). Beyond that, distributing instructions can help those who don't have access to a friendly build party, like pro-democracy resistance movements around the world including here in the United States.

Here's the part where I ask for your help: I set up a Kickstarter project to fund this endeavor (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chead/diy-amd-ak/backers). I would love it if the CalGuns community could help me realize this project. The vast majority of the budget is going toward buying and renting tools and shop time, the printing (it's expensive) and installation in the gallery. Obviously the cost is much higher than attending a build party, but my goal is more or less to do a one-man build-party to show that it can be done, and provide documentation on how do to it. If you're interested in the project there's a ton more information on the Kickstarter page!

NorCalK9.com
02-18-2012, 12:54 PM
Post in gunsmithing and you'll get more feedback!

chead
02-18-2012, 12:56 PM
Post in gunsmithing and you'll get more feedback!

Good idea, will-do. :)

liv4spd
02-18-2012, 1:07 PM
Great idea - looking forward to seeing your idea realize fruition!

wash
02-18-2012, 1:24 PM
First, don't drill the gas port so that you don't need a mag lock that will ugly up the gun.

Second, you'll have to get an NFA AOW tax stamp to install the second pistol grip.

One of the Yugo Krink kits might be a better starting point if you want something that will look authentic. An underfolder rear trunnion in a Romy RPK flat will look clean.

chead
02-18-2012, 1:28 PM
This won't have a forward pistol grip. It will most likely be built from the AK-Builder AMD pistol kit. I'll have to have a mag lock since the performance aspect of the project includes firing the gun at a range. Also I think the mag lock speaks to the horrible tangle of California gun law. I want gallery attendees to ask about it so I can tell them why it's there and why it's so stupid.

chead
02-18-2012, 3:04 PM
I forgot to mention: Even if you're not interested in the project I would totally appreciate it if you could forward it on to folks who might be :)

hawaii five-0
02-19-2012, 5:33 AM
Why on earth would you need to buy tools and rent shop time when you could go to a build party for free?You even stated that builders helping builders was part of your project.

feeesh
02-19-2012, 6:46 AM
good luck! I can't wait to see the finished project!

Jayruta
02-19-2012, 7:28 AM
Im in sd and have the tools and the know how. I can help.

chead
02-19-2012, 12:03 PM
Why on earth would you need to buy tools and rent shop time when you could go to a build party for free?You even stated that builders helping builders was part of your project.

First, for the sake of the project I'd like it to be "self-sustaining" which in this case means owning the means to the production of the firearm. That's a really powerful idea in this context, especially when it comes to defense against state violence.

Second, I'd ideally like to put on a build party. I didn't add this to the project description because I don't want to plan it and have it fall through since that wouldn't be fair to the folks who planned to attend. If the project is funded it's likely I'll organize something for folks to attend.

Third, I'd rather not attend someone else's build party because I'll be filming for the documentation which I'm sure some folks wouldn't appreciate, and I'll also be going more slowly than most people would at a standard build party.

And fourth, I'd like to put the build tools on display in the gallery as artifacts of the process.

chead
02-19-2012, 12:04 PM
Im in sd and have the tools and the know how. I can help.

That would be awesome, can you PM me?

wash
02-19-2012, 12:49 PM
You might consider making the bending jig and using large bolts to do the bending instead of a press, do it Khyber pass style.

More powerful than doing it yourself is showing that anyone can do it if they can afford the raw materials and time.

chead
02-19-2012, 12:58 PM
You might consider making the bending jig and using large bolts to do the bending instead of a press, do it Khyber pass style.

More powerful than doing it yourself is showing that anyone can do it if they can afford the raw materials and time.

I'm totally into this, I'd just want to have some supervision.

chead
02-19-2012, 1:02 PM
Just to be clear, if this does get funded and I have "extra" money by virtue of borrowing tools, I will still put all the money toward the project including the potential to host a build party as part of the performance. I would even be willing to buy some kits for people if I can afford it. None of this money is going anywhere but this project, and the more people who do builds as part of it the better!

maxmonster
02-19-2012, 4:12 PM
Dude this is such an interesting idea for an art piece!!! Coming from a fellow artist KUDOS!!! I wish I thought of this...

Intimid8tor
02-19-2012, 4:40 PM
Sounds cool. Remember that when the pistol is on display you cannot leave it and also make sure you follow proper channels on school zone issues, etc.

chead
02-19-2012, 6:47 PM
Dude this is such an interesting idea for an art piece!!! Coming from a fellow artist KUDOS!!! I wish I thought of this...

Thanks, I really appreciate it! :)

Sounds cool. Remember that when the pistol is on display you cannot leave it and also make sure you follow proper channels on school zone issues, etc.

Definitely. This project is about what you can do within the law so I don't want to step over it at any point.

wash
02-19-2012, 7:07 PM
Actually, instead of going single shot, you could build up a kit as a non-gun to leave in the exhibit with VFG and folding stock even, then build a working pistol for yourself.

chead
02-19-2012, 7:14 PM
Actually, instead of going single shot, you could build up a kit as a non-gun to leave in the exhibit with VFG and folding stock even, then build a working pistol for yourself.

For the purposes of the exhibit it's important to me that the pistol be ostensibly complete. It won't be operable in the context of the gallery but only by virtue of the fact that it will be missing the bolt and some fire control stuff.

EmmaGoldman
02-20-2012, 11:18 AM
You really want a studio visit from Al Faro. If you can influence those things in your program, push for it.

Also, check out Jerome Reyes' social practice work.

Scott Connors
02-20-2012, 11:45 AM
Be very careful with this. Need I remind you of the several Calgunners and others who have gotten into legal trouble because some libtard at their school saw that they had EBRs and turned on the bat signal for the cops. Result: 3 AM wake-up calls, search and seizure of anything that resembles a weapon, arrest on trumped-up charge or 5150.
Don't mistake my meaning: this sounds like a worthy project (since it's for a MFA program, you might use the various "Khyber Pass" AK home builds in Afghanistan and Pakistan as an authentic folk art form.
Good luck!

BucDan
02-20-2012, 12:10 PM
Or you could attend a build party and do work there. Maybe that will help? If I knew jayruta would do personal builds, I would've hired him months ago!

sharxbyte
02-20-2012, 1:20 PM
This is an amazing idea! You have no idea how many people, even pro-2A have no idea that it's legal, and even not terribly difficult to build your own firearms. I think sometime, it would be amazing to have a booth at the state fair where people could get information, instructions, and even possibly build(or start) a lower receiver...

chead
02-20-2012, 5:00 PM
Or you could attend a build party and do work there. Maybe that will help? If I knew jayruta would do personal builds, I would've hired him months ago!

If I can't get this funded for a solo build I'll definitely do a build party. I just want to make sure everyone's okay being filmed and/or photographed, so that will take some doing. I definitely don't want to drop into a build party someone else organized and act like everyone wants to be a part of my thesis.

sharxbyte
02-21-2012, 7:39 AM
I'd be game if you weren't so far and I had money ;)

chead
02-23-2012, 3:09 PM
There have been some.. developments. The police were alerted to the project and subsequently got in contact with me. There has been some other attention, both positive and negative, but for the the time being I've canceled the Kickstarter fundraising. That doesn't mean I'm canceling the project or the build, but in light of recent events, it looks like the project is going to take a strange turn. Some things are going to come up in the next few days and if they're interesting I'll report back.

Thanks again for the interest in the project!

chead
02-23-2012, 3:09 PM
~double-posted~

Wodsworthy
02-23-2012, 3:36 PM
There have been some.. developments. The police were alerted to the project and subsequently got in contact with me. There has been some other attention, both positive and negative, but for the the time being I've canceled the Kickstarter fundraising. That doesn't mean I'm canceling the project or the build, but in light of recent events, it looks like the project is going to take a strange turn. Some things are going to come up in the next few days and if they're interesting I'll report back.

Thanks again for the interest in the project!

Keep us posted dude.

M3Shark
02-23-2012, 3:48 PM
I don't know where you are in the project, or what point you are up to. But if UCSD is anything like SDSU, there there should be machine shops on campus that you can get access to. Since it is technically an approved school project there should not be any problems.

Talk to some people in the engineering department to try to get access. (probably have to actually have your adviser do the talking with you as inter-school politics can be described as "nasty" at best.) If they do have problems with you building gun parts in a school shop, then at the very least you may be able to build some of the tools/jigs you may need to build the gun elsewhere.

chuckdc
02-24-2012, 6:45 AM
Well, now that they've started to mess with you on it, you have an additional angle. Make sure that they put what they say to you on paper, use the complex legal contortions and distortions on paper in the art project as a counterpoint to the simplicity of actually building the rifle.

WagDatto
02-24-2012, 10:18 AM
Art must be controversial or it's not art. Your job as an artist is to engage the audience, whether you do so by shocking them, forcing them to think, or annoying them in some way.

It sounds like there's nothing illegal about what you've planned to do. Just because the police are aware of it doesn't mean you can't do it... it just means you have to be double sure that what you do is by the books and the paperwork is there to prove it!

I say go for it.. guns will engage the audience more than a lot of other subjects!

chead
02-24-2012, 10:19 AM
Well, now that they've started to mess with you on it, you have an additional angle. Make sure that they put what they say to you on paper, use the complex legal contortions and distortions on paper in the art project as a counterpoint to the simplicity of actually building the rifle.

Yep, this is my favorite part of the project now! The most interesting thing to me is that there were some members of the public who weren't willing to critically engage with the work and called the police, but the police were ready to accept the project as legitimate artwork. That's not often the case when artists and law enforcement meet.

NorCArl
02-24-2012, 10:29 AM
Fantastic! I am writing a thesis for an upper division Freedom of Speech class at CSU Chico about censorship in art that I would love to cite your work in. I will definitely following this thread.
Let me know when you have something on paper and I would love to see it!

TwinStick
02-24-2012, 10:44 AM
Great project! Keep us posted!

chead
02-24-2012, 12:00 PM
Fantastic! I am writing a thesis for an upper division Freedom of Speech class at CSU Chico about censorship in art that I would love to cite your work in. I will definitely following this thread.
Let me know when you have something on paper and I would love to see it!

Awesome! This project has sort of caught me by surprise, but I'll have some writing to release by next week :)

Great project! Keep us posted!

Will do!

chead
02-26-2012, 12:10 PM
The revised version of the Kickstarter project is LIVE. Yay! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chead/diy-amd-ak-v2

A Gawker article is coming out Monday/Tuesday. I have no idea what to expect.

Wodsworthy
02-28-2012, 3:06 PM
The revised version of the Kickstarter project is LIVE. Yay! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chead/diy-amd-ak-v2

A Gawker article is coming out Monday/Tuesday. I have no idea what to expect.

Sweet man, I'll make sure to check Gawker.

MrPlink
02-28-2012, 3:33 PM
This won't have a forward pistol grip. It will most likely be built from the AK-Builder AMD pistol kit. I'll have to have a mag lock since the performance aspect of the project includes firing the gun at a range. Also I think the mag lock speaks to the horrible tangle of California gun law. I want gallery attendees to ask about it so I can tell them why it's there and why it's so stupid.

paint it bright red or do something to make it really stick out. (the maglock that is)

If you are going to make it part of your statement, then REALLY make it part of your statement!

Just my idea though, awesome project and best of luck!