Ray Gun by Mike Beradino is a 1960s plastic “ray gun” toy in which the artist installed components of a 48X speed DVD burner.
The DVD burner projects a red laser point from the barrel of the ray gun with a non-negligible impact.
In video documentation of the gun’s use which is viewable on Beradino’s personal website, the artist points the gun at a black balloon, initiates the DVD laser, focusing the laser’s point on the surface of the balloon, until—POP—the balloon explodes due to the degree of concentrated heat generated by the laser point.
Now, on the one hand, this work is funny in a one-liner way in that it turns a child’s toy into a working weapon.
On the other hand, though, there’s another level of meaning to the work as, according to Beradino, before the DVD burner was installed into the ray gun toy, it was “broken.”
The broken DVD burner, unable to fulfill its intended function as a reliable inscriber of digital code on the surface of a DVD, is obsolete trash—a bunch of useless plastic and screws.
By re-purposing this broken technology, Beradino breathes new life into it.
In this way, it is in dialogue with the 1960s ray gun—itself a technology, or an idea of a technology, which once heralded a new vision of the future, but is now obsolete.
Furthermore, one could say the same thing regarding fully-functional DVD technology which was also once futuristic and cutting edge but is now in the process of being replaced by digital streaming and download.
It’s all the same process—a technology emerges, promising to bring one closer to one’s desires; it’s consumed; and is, then, replaced by the next technology and the next round of promises.
In no case does the technology definitively answer any of one’s questions or bring one definitively closer to one’s desires.
On the contrary, it always raises more new questions and more new desires.
The collision between the ray gun toy from the 1960s and the broken DVD player creates an impact, then, in the sense that it can pop a balloon, yes, but it can also crystallize one’s awareness of this process.
Two visions of the future—each pointing out the other’s obsolescence.
By doing so, the work creates a portrait of the fact of obsolescence.