Sharing more in common with Maillardet's Automaton than Apple's G5, Cotterrell's Prototype II is a mechanical device of finely honed gears, cogs and wheels made by the artist in the London workshops of the Society of Model and Experimental Engineers.
Driving a crank at painfully slow speed, the machine cocks the guns, the muzzles of which face directly into one another. Its slipping pulleys continuously spin the chambers until the cocking mechanism traps the chamber in preparation for firing. A complete cycle involving the cocking and subsequent firing of one blank round into the partnered revolver takes 5 minutes.
The visual impact of two revolvers staring down their barrels at one another is both chilling and humorous: there is a certain sense of glee in watching a gun shoot one of its own. Essential to the piece is the time it requires of its audience. As the minutes creep past, unease sets in - how will the firing resolve itself? In order to know first hand, the audience must wait and watch. Like the internal workings of a clock, Prototype II fascinates with its process: it becomes easy to focus on the movement of individual parts, forgetting that as a whole, these movements will culminate in an act which is potentially lethal.