100 Big Ideas. Designing Play: An ode to chance and luck
With the expertise of French naval architect Francois Rougier, artist Max Mulhern has created what he calls, Aqua Dice. They look just like dice– if dice were large bright orange phosphorescent cubes with royal blue spots. They are bio-composites and 100% recyclable. On the Aqua Dice website, he coins the lovely term, “Fate Adrift.”
The dice were launched onto the same waters Christopher Columbus took to the new world. Mulhern thinks of Columbus himself as being a roll of the dice. Their purpose is to create a phenomenal visual ode to chance and luck. Mulhern also hopes his dice will serve as a feasibility study for unmanned, non-sail, wind powered Trans-Atlantic shipping. So beautifully unique are these dice that they were named one of Interior Design Magazine’s 100 Big Ideas.
The dice are designed to be unstable and will roll with the wind and the waves. Each is equipped with a beacon, which will transmit the position of the die as well as which side is facing upwards. You can follow the dice and make bets on where they land and which side will be facing up. The rolls and positions of the dice will also be relayed via satellite to the city center for people to keep tabs on their roll through the ocean. You can even see where the die are located on the map.
This project has a wonderful sense of play. Not frivolous play, but practical, useful, joyous play, in which we can all participate. He has created larger-than-life, beautiful game pieces and tossed them into the world. The website states that this project can also be found under the title, “The Greatest Floating Craps Game on Earth.” By designing in the ability to track the die, and inviting people to make guesses about their “roll,” he has created a cross-continental playground of sorts.
We may owe this artist a big thank you as the world certainly needs more play. It is one of the fundamental activities that we humans can engage in, that fosters joy, creativity, emotional and social development and a collaborative, shared existence. Of infinite possibility. Might be helpful these days, no?
In the New York Times article, An Artist’s Game of Change on the High Seas by Michael Kurcfeld, Mulhern responds to scientists who say the dice will separate quickly. He says “What I like about that is the dual possibilities: there’s one throw and two outcomes, two possible destinations — and destinies.” The dice represent possibility, and it is his belief in possibility that made his project happen.
He believes in the importance of luck, saying, if you have luck, everything else is fine. Watch this wonderful New york Times video on the project and enjoy his ever-present playfulness on the Aqua Dice Facebook .