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Rolling the dice on oceans’ mysteries… again

Rolling the dice on oceans’ mysteries… again Rolling the dice on oceans’ mysteries… again 

Artist: Max Mulhern, Paris, France   
Producer: Aqua Dice

The world has changed fundamentally over the last 520 years. Still, trade winds and chancy vessels, which were once the only assets of Christopher Columbus in making his serendipitous discoveries, are now used again in a similar venture across the Atlantic.

In January, American-born and Paris-based artist Max Mulhern released two brightly coloured PVC dice from the quay in Gran Canaria. Dice are considered one of the most compelling symbols of sheer dumb luck, and Max Mulhern decided to explore this belief with his project Aqua Dice.

Each die was specially created by a French naval architect specialised in fishing boats. Composed of eight watertight compartments made of PVC and plywood — each of which inhabits a corner of the die — these peculiar ships are held together by 6 panels representing the six faces of a traditional die. Both constructions are specifically designed to be unsteady and will move and tumble in response to the current.

To keep track of the artwork, students in technology from Normandy custom-built a GPS system that sends out information on the locations of the dice once a day. Their progress can therefore be observed by all those interested. While both dice were about 1,100 miles west of the Canary islands and only about 60 miles away from each other on 7 January, scientists predict the two floating objects will separate quickly.

The dice set out on their journey along the same path navigated by Christopher Columbus when he was on his way to discover the new world. Columbus’s ships according to Mulhern, “were nothing more than big dice”.

These modern day sculptures pay tribute to the past while light-heartedly illustrating the monumental role of chance in an otherwise planned and orderly world.

Technical info: PVC membrane; plywood structure.
Picture credits: Courtesy Aqua Dice