Lucky personal products are potential tools of practical animism. The project asks if mind can influence matter.
Gambling is about beating logic, beating reason. Fragrance, finger wipes and tongue drops have been developed to fortify the lower senses of the gambler playing with chance on pokie machines, which are essentially random number generators.
The assumption between experience in gambling and experience of the world is that methods of advancement often incorporate a fair measure of luck. Winning embodies awareness of a freakish tide of random disorder, illogic, and futility.
‘Lucky’ encompasses playing with chance, biotechnology, the concept of affective intention, and our own wagers with ourselves.
The project involves the creation of power objects intended for use as tools of ‘magic’ for gamblers.
The work required growing, harvesting, and testing of four-leaf clovers on pokie machines (1) in casinos and the subsequent development of the personal products and their packaging. The products for the lower senses (taste, touch and smell) are intended to fortify the gambler’s defenses against the mesmerizing visual and aural lures of the sense–smuggling machines.
The Lucky documentary (work currently in progress) includes interviews with family members, the Problem Gambling Foundation, Hotel Proprietors in the remote East Cape, four-leaf clover collectors, a perfumer, Crown Research laboratories, product design at Massey university, a scientific glassblower and two 3D modelers.
The transient nature of our existence is bearable when we have stable ground to stand on. Although we look for personal fulfillment in accruing ‘things’ we find ourselves living with the paradox that all those ‘things’ that cost, seem to be open to choice, but the ultimately important matters such as contamination of the planet, global warming, the ‘war against terror’ seem to be beyond our control.
The idea that we can influence vast forces such as weather and chance by our willing, rituals or lucky charms, arises from a fear of the uncontrollable and the unknown. People go to the casino hoping for something miraculous to happen — the difference is, sums of money are involved in trying to engineer a financial avalanche.
The escalation of playing with chance and randomness on the pokies seems to echo the reality of living life in an increasingly unpredictable global soup. If considered in a much larger context the gamblers’ practice of muted risk-taking indicates a wider culture of risky ventures such as extreme sports and entrepreneurism while simultaneously there is a growing anxiety about our lives becoming out of control. Risk taking emphasises the urgent desire to manifest control over feelings of fear and anguish and to reset the happiness balance by stimulating the brain’s reward system to produce endorphins.
The shape of the container references ‘fulgurites’ formed from cloud to ground lightning discharges. In the case of natural lightning, it is usually unknown when and where the discharge is going to occur.
The containers are small enough to fit in the hand and 30mm in width as a reference to lightning almost always being 30mm wide. In the centre of the container is a small glass vial of 7mm diameter and 56mm long, topped with a ground glass stopper.
Each container is a similar but unique item. Random mutations were applied to the initial fulgurite computer model, which was built by Nelson Rayner in 3-dimensional modeling & animation software 3D Studio Max.
Brett Orams devised a technique to employ a random number seed generator in 3D studioMax to change the parameters of each container. The numbers to seed these mesh distortions using a noise modifier were generated online at www.random.org which used atmospheric noise amplified via a radio receiver to deliver a five digit result - which was duly fed into the aforementioned modifier.
The 50 unique variations produced were then subject to an 'unnatural selection' process to cull the versions that were unfit to produce a stereolithogaphic product capable of fully encasing the glass vials without the vial cavity 'daylighting' through to the outside of the object. The series of events resembled an organic process where unique individuals evolved through mutation & only those selected by
prevailing conditions survived to complete the process of reproduction - in this instance to a small number of physical synthetic objects.
The product containers were created on a rapid prototype machine by Dr Olaf Diegel, Institute of Technology and Engineering, Massey University.
The fragrance was created with Louise Crouch, a commercial perfumer who has a consistent colour association with numbers and letters of the alphabet that assists her memory of around 200–300 perfumery materials she uses to create odour combinations to formulate perfumes for the commercial market.
The formula for the fragrance was ‘perfection - money = play’ and it contains essential oils of rosemary, lemon, bergamot, clove, cinnamon, vanilla, sandalwood, peppermint, patchouli, vetiver, geranium, and clary sage
The fragrance is intended to moderate the intense sensation of wanting to lose with the possibility of sudden euphoric avalanches of money and love. Smell has largely been excluded as a rational logical form of communication because it is subjective and experiential. Perhaps cultivating an awareness of feeling and sensation would give us more awareness of our cultural, social and temporal constructions of reality…. It may answer why, for example, does the moon dust purportedly smell like spent gunpowder—which we use to kill animals and other humans?
The finger wipes are scrolls of papyrus. Subsequent to being passed as 100% safe by the NZ authorities the papyrus will be coated with a bioluminescent genetically engineered product that will produce glowing fingertips. The product is deemed 100% safe by its manufacturers, however it is currently undergoing a "status of substance" report by Erma the environmental management authorities in NZ.
Erma’s rigorous testing would ensure that there are no risks in this product which would in effect raise issues of gambling with our economically valuable image of a ‘clean green’ environment. The substance would be sourced from a biotechnology company whose core business is based upon newly discovered genes from deep-water marine bioluminescent organisms which have broad applications for biomedical research, drug discovery, and entertainment.
The luminance would be activated by the player spitting on the paper and rolling it onto the fingertips before pressing the pokie machine button.
The tongue drops are blank pilule tablets which have been infused with a homeopathic medication prepared from selected 4-leaf clovers which have been ascertained unsuccessful in gambling trials in casinos. They are flavoured and sweetened with vanilla which is known to be the most popular flavour in America. The very physical nature of psychosomatic illnesses, placebo drugs, and the effects of animistic objects, signify that little is known about the possession of command between the mind and the body.