Shape of Luck, 2007-10


Luck is a nebulous concept. But as intangible as it may be, we have all had the sense of having been lucky at one time or another. Having once felt the rush of being lucky, one can’t help but be drawn towards it.

The Shape of Luck Series began while I was in residency at the Caribbean Centre for Contemporary Arts in Port of Spain, Trinidad in 2007. The national lottery had grown to $11 million and the island was in the grips of lotto fever. As a way taking part in the frenzy, I plotted the six-number sequences from each week’s lottery draw on radar graphs and then transferred the resulting shapes to my studio wall. Visitors soon noticed the similarities amongst the shapes and serious speculation began as to whether the winning lottery number could be predicted.

Somewhere between my pseudo-scientific method and the suggestion that these shapes did in fact reflect good fortune, the series became a sounding board for some deeply-seated beliefs about luck. I will conjecture that viewers attempt to resolve the 2D line drawing with the 3D shape it depicts and the resulting flux in perception is attributed to something just beyond comprehension – luck.

Following the original installation in Trinidad, The Shape of Luck was presented in the Weinmeisterstrasse U-Bahn Station in Berlin as part of Glück gehabt, a theme-based exhibition mounted by NGBK and at the Shanghai Restaurant in Ottawa as part of Chinatown-Remixed.

There is now an online incarnation of the Shape of Luck on the Artengine website:
Through the interface, you can contribute your own set of lucky numbers, see the resulting shape and then watch it morph into a continual sequence other lucky shapes.


Shape of Luck, Port of Spain, Trinidad, 2007

This series of vinyl appliqué drawings was created while I was in residence at the Caribbean Contemporary Art Centre, Port of Spain, Trinidad in the summer of 2007.

Trinis love their lotteries. With the Lotto Plus jackpot reaching a frenzied 11,000,000 TT in July, 2007 and the addictive qualities of Play-Whe again causing political concern, I thought an artistic exploration of the lotteries might reveal something of the Trinidadian sense of luck. In the Shape of Luck series of wall drawings, winning lottery numbers are graphed on a radial axis. The resulting shapes are curious. Resembling star constellations and with similarities evident amongst them, one tends to look to them as if they portend some mute secret of fortune and success. Any sense that they do foretell is, of course, brought to the drawings by the viewer. Still, even knowing this, one can’t help but look.

Shape of Luck: Lotto Plus
The Lotto Plus results from for July and August, 2007

Shape of Luck: Play-Whe, 2007
The Play-Whe lottery has its origins in a local lottery in which players chose amongst Chinese characters and symbols. In the official version of the lottery, the characters are still used, but are assigned numbers. Graphed here are the most and least winning numbers, red and black, respectively.

Shape of Luck, Berlin, 2008

Shape of Luck (Die Gestalt des Glücks): Lotto Berlin, 2008, 252 x 356cm
For an exhibition entitled Glück gehabt, NGBK of Berlin invited artist to submit designs for artworks on the theme of luck. The images were mounted in the Berlin subway system on advertising panels. Like the Trinidadian series, I used winning results from a local lottery, in this case Lotto Berlin, to derive the shape. The piece is mounted in the Weinmeisterstrasse subway station and will remain there until mid-2009.



Shape of Luck: Shanghai, Ottawa, 2009

For Chinatown-Remixed, an arts festival in Ottawa’s Chinatown, I graphed lottery numbers found in fortune cookies that resulted in big lottery wins around the world. The resulting six-sided shapes were overlain to suggest the folded shape of a fortune cookie.