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June 14, 2008 9:09 AM   Subscribe

I Love My Life The Way It Is. A collection-in-progress of unscratched scratch-off lottery tickets, the project is the brainchild of Ali Alvarez, who hopes to collect at least 8000 tickets, enough to fill a 12x12 room from floor to ceiling. Alvarez is soliciting donations of unscratched tickets from volunteers around the world, and has posted pictures of some of the ones received so far. The idea of an unscratched lottery ticket makes some people "a little crazy," but Alvarez hopes the collection will cause people to explore the ideas of "getting your hopes high, dreaming, escaping, and then usually being let down." Via.
posted by amyms (75 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Send me Money..!...oh, wait, that's been done...

Send me Lottery Tickets....

kthkxbye
posted by HuronBob at 9:16 AM on June 14, 2008


BUT...

BUT...

BUT...

!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:18 AM on June 14, 2008


This doesn't phase me... I've concluded (from my own experience in my state and a couple of neighboring ones) that our lottery scratch-off tickets have turned into rip-offs since the mid-1990s. I recall back in the 1980s it was common to get a few big wins... nowadays all the tickets I've tried are duds or win only a pittance. I suspect oversight and auditing have gone by the wayside. So build away, Ali Alvarez; I will shed no tears.
posted by crapmatic at 9:24 AM on June 14, 2008


Umm, 8000 lottery tickets is nowhere near enough to fill a 12x12 room from floor to ceiling.
posted by tkolar at 9:29 AM on June 14, 2008


A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, about 9 percent of all income. [NY Times]
posted by Dave Faris at 9:31 AM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


In fact, being generous and assuming 4" x 4" lottery tickets, it would take about 1300 just to make a single layer.

So I suppose you could use about 8000 of them to cover all of the available surfaces in the room.
posted by tkolar at 9:33 AM on June 14, 2008


Oh, and just for completeness' sake: assuming each lottery ticket is 1/16 inch thick and the room is 10 feet tall, it would take roughly 2.5 million tickets to fill a 12x12 room.

On the other hand, virtually everything to do with lotteries is a testament to poor math skills, so I'm not sure why I'm calling this bit out.
posted by tkolar at 9:41 AM on June 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


A 12 mm by 12 mm room.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:42 AM on June 14, 2008


tkolar, I tried to wrap my mind around the math at first too, then I realized that the "from floor to ceiling" part probably meant just the wall surface (e.g. displaying the tickets on the walls, like wallpaper, so people could look at them).
posted by amyms at 9:52 AM on June 14, 2008


I'm glad to know that other countries' lottery tickets are just as garish and tacky as the United States'.
posted by desjardins at 9:54 AM on June 14, 2008


I've concluded (from my own experience in my state and a couple of neighboring ones) that our lottery scratch-off tickets have turned into rip-offs

You realize that lotteries are BY DEFINITION a ripoff, right?
posted by jsonic at 9:54 AM on June 14, 2008


Dunno. To say you're going to "fill a room" is pretty standard vernacular on both sides of the pond.

On the other hand, it may just be a sly dig at the sort of people who buy lottery tickets.
posted by tkolar at 9:58 AM on June 14, 2008


Actually I take it back. If he's serious about wanting to do a gallery display, he's most likely looking to just cover the walls.

Right. I've officially invested waaaay to much time in this matter. I'm going out to play instead.
posted by tkolar at 10:01 AM on June 14, 2008


A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, about 9 percent of all income.

I know it's true that lower income people spend a higher percentage of their income on lottery tickets, but I wonder why it is that almost all the big winners (or at least the big winner on the drawings, not the scratch-offs) seem to be people who are already "doing okay" from a financial standpoint. Maybe that's just confirmation bias on my part because I'm jealous that someone else hit the jackpot and I'm subconsciously looking for a reason to begrudge them their good fortune, but it seems like when they publicize the winners, there's a high percentage of people who are upper middle-class. I don't think I've ever heard about someone living in abject poverty who won the lottery.
posted by amyms at 10:03 AM on June 14, 2008


A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, about 9 percent of all income.

I Hate My Life The Way It Is and this "art" mocks and insults those who feel forced to play this losers game.
posted by three blind mice at 10:05 AM on June 14, 2008


Arguably far more profound than MeFites are letting themselves believe - its not the lottery tickets themselves which are the statement here, but the unique emotion of giving up a potentially winning lottery ticket never knowing if it was a winner. I'm curious to know how many of us could actually do it.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:10 AM on June 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


l33tpolicywonk: I could do that easily. For any given ticket I'm pretty sure it's not a big winner. That's why I didn't buy it in the first place.
posted by aubilenon at 10:14 AM on June 14, 2008


I've concluded (from my own experience in my state and a couple of neighboring ones) that our lottery scratch-off tickets have turned into rip-offs

You realize that lotteries are BY DEFINITION a ripoff, right?


Heh, my dad calls lottery tickets the state's "idiot tax."
He usually refers to it as such as he goes off to buy one or two powerball tickets.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:18 AM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Uh, three blind mice, nobody is "forced" to play this losers game. This "art" (quotations yours) is interesting and provocative (obviously, judging by your reaction). I like the conflicted impulses it brings to the fore in my own psyche. I don't buy lottery tickets. I think they are, as the artist conveys, an insidious vehicle for encouraging people who can ill afford the price of false hope to invest a large percentage of their monetary and emotional resources in a losing proposition.

That I hold these tickets in disdain and think of them as useless trash doesn't stop a faint irrational voice in my brain from calling out "But what if? What a waste of potential! You never know! It's a crime and a mockery! Give those tickets to poor people who might be able to use them, rather than wasting them on frivolous things such as art!"

Ergo, this piece works for me.
posted by stagewhisper at 10:21 AM on June 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


... the unique emotion of giving up a potentially winning lottery ticket never knowing if it was a winner. I'm curious to know how many of us could actually do it.

I couldn't do it. I even check discarded lottery tickets that are laying on the ground "just in case." I don't make a habit of playing the lottery (I buy a couple of tickets every once in awhile when I'm out running errands, if the urge strikes me) but I always feel the "what if?" high when I get one, and I don't think I could intentionally leave one unscratched, never knowing whether it was "the one."
posted by amyms at 10:22 AM on June 14, 2008


Sigh. I have a really mixed feelings about lotteries and gambling. I remember when the South Dakota Lottery was first introduced when I was a kid. I was fascinated by the tickets--not really because of the possibility of making money off of them, but because they seemed like such great objects. I mean really, look at them. More than they look like anything else, they look like pages torn from children's comics.

Once, I was grocery shopping with my Dad. As we were checking out, I told him that he should buy a lottery ticket. My Dad thought that he could end this obsession of mine once and for all, so he bought a ticket with the intention of showing me what a waste of money it is. He won $50.

For about a year, I had memorized the list of every type of ticket that the SD lottery had introduced, in order. Gold Rush, Lucky Seven, Lucky Ducks, I vividly remembered the advertising gimmick that went with each one, the sketches they played on the radio. Williams and Ree were the spokespeople of the South Dakota Lottery. Once I met them at a used car sale; they were signing South Dakota Lottery posters. I was thrilled.

In college, I discovered blackjack. The goal for me was never to make money, it was always to break even for long enough that I could play for a couple hours and down some free drinks. There was an 18+ reservation casino about 90 minutes out of town. I was always trying to get groups of friends together to go there. Sometimes we'd even dress up like in Guys and Dolls; I thought that was hilarious.

Here's the point. Is the lottery a tax on the uneducated? I suppose. Guilty. And yes, these numbers are damning, and were surprising to me. But that narrative ignores one simple fact about gambling: it's fun.

When I hear people decrying a system that allows needy people to waste their money on sucker's bets, the reasonable part of me agrees, but a part of me wants to say, "Hey, why are we holding their entertainment budgets to such scrutiny?" Poor people spend 9% of their incomes on lottery tickets; I spent well over 9% of my income on poetry books, half of which I never actually get around to reading. I spend hundreds of dollars on Wii games, money that should be going to student loan debt. When the New York Times does a study on the buying habits 20-somethings with Master's degrees, I'm toast.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:30 AM on June 14, 2008 [12 favorites]


A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, about 9 percent of all income. [NY Times]

Where the hell was that statistic drawn from? Sorry, sounds like complete bullshit. If someone can point me to the study along with its methodology, I'll take a look at it. After all, it's not like you state your income when you buy a ticket, so this had to be some sort of poll - or it was made up.

Anyway, I don't think a room covered head to foot in unscratched lottery tickets is much of an art statement. Sorry, but it is just a room full of unscratched lottery tickets. It takes a great deal of mental masturbation to get any deep meaning. Some modern art and performance art is wondeful, but I have to say I'm with the crowd of people that doesn't find the meaning of life in a toilet on a pedastal in the middle of an installation. Van Gogh, Goya, Diego Rivera - there is life.

Now excuse me while I put the finishing touches on my Manga sculpture of a naked future-god-superhero with giant lactating boobs.
posted by Muddler at 10:39 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes, and one in six billion people is the next Einstein, therefore it is pointless to encourage people to live up to their potential, or even attempt to discover their potential.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:39 AM on June 14, 2008


Muddler typed "...but I have to say I'm with the crowd of people that doesn't find the meaning of life in a toilet on a pedastal in the middle of an installation."

Must you people take over every discussion on MetaFilter?
posted by roll truck roll at 10:46 AM on June 14, 2008 [8 favorites]


sigh. i promised myself i wouldn't read the comments section of anything tagged "art," on the internet, but i always do. nevertheless, when i, inevitably, die of a frustration-induced brain aneurysm, i'm still going to blame metafilter and come back to haunt all y'all.

the piece is a bit of a one-noter, yes, and the title/description kind of spells it out a bit too much (i get the impression that this alvarez character isn't coming at this from an arts background), but the idea remains effective. indeed, the notion of a room papered with unscratched-off lotto tickets is kind of giving me an eye twitch.

i doubt i'll be contributing.
posted by wreckingball at 11:04 AM on June 14, 2008


Lottery tickets:

A tax on the mathmatically challenged.
posted by notreally at 11:10 AM on June 14, 2008


Ergo, this piece works for me.

I spend a lot of time in bars drinking with the sort of people who spend more money than they can afford on lottery tickets (and booze.) Being the curious type, I ask 'em why? "I know I'm throwing my money away on a long shot, but it's the only chance I have." This is how people think and the fact that the state government exploits this human weakness is reprehensible.

Almost as much as elitist snobs who make "art" saying I love my life so much that I do not care if I'm holding a winning ticket. Let them bring it on exhibit to my bar and see how much it will be appreciated.
posted by three blind mice at 11:13 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I was at art college we had a set budget for materials for each project and one bloke spent most of his on scratch cards. He then sealed them (unscratched) in acrylic blokes and built a little wall, which you could touch. I liked that more than this idea, I think because those scratch cards were suspended, forever unscratchable, whereas these are still potentially valid. Less tension somehow...
posted by freya_lamb at 11:22 AM on June 14, 2008


I think the point here is being missed.... if this guy was spending HIS money for his "art", I would be impressed... he's spending other people's money... I'm not impressed at all..

and, to be honest, I'm not convinced he isn't going to scratch them and find the winners...

y'all send him all your tickets, better yet, just send the sucker cash, the least he could do is walk to the corner store to buy them, but he wants you to do that as well... (and use another 41 cents in postage to send him that 1$ ticket)...

P.T. had it right...
posted by HuronBob at 11:24 AM on June 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I hope he uses the proceeds from this installation to buy enough lottery tickets to cover a 20x20 room. Not that I give a tinker's damn about his project. I just like the idea of using proceeds from lottery tickets to buy more lottery tickets.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:25 AM on June 14, 2008


"I know I'm throwing my money away on a long shot, but it's the only chance I have."

Assumes that being rich is the only way to live a good, or comfortable life. While I certainly empathize with the condition of the poor, in this country and elsewhere, we cheat them by assuming their only hope (and, by extension, their potential worth) is found by hitting the jackpot.

If there's any exploitation here, the artist is merely documenting it, in the same way a photographer who takes pictures of the homeless isn't making people homeless. That doesn't get to the ultimate goal of the piece, which is forcing you to question whether you could give up a potential fortune just because, for no other good reason than you don't think you need money to make you happy. There are rational reasons to believe that striking it big ruins one's life, but no one is thinking rationally while they're scratching that ticket.

For those of us that think they could send in their unscratched ticket, let me ask another question: Suppose after the exhibit, the artist announces that he's scratched all of the tickets and one of them was worth $2 million, or some outrageous amount. How likely are you to rationally believe in the high unliklihood that you gave up the winner?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:31 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Many of these things you don't even have to scratch. They have a barcode on the back and when you bring your ticket to the store to redeem it, they don't even look at the scratched off part. They just scan it and give you your money. Or more lottery tickets.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:41 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Alvarez hopes the collection will cause people to explore the ideas of "getting your hopes high, dreaming, escaping, and then usually being let down.""

That is exactly why I play the powerball occasionally. It's enormous amounts of fun to buy that ticket and spend a few minutes each day imagining what I'd do with the jackpot while waiting for the drawing to take place. Then I don't even match a single number, not even one, not even once. Fine. A dollar every now and again for a little thrill and some fantastic daydreaming? Fine by me.
posted by Science! at 11:42 AM on June 14, 2008


l33tpolicywonk writes "For those of us that think they could send in their unscratched ticket, let me ask another question: Suppose after the exhibit, the artist announces that he's scratched all of the tickets and one of them was worth $2 million, or some outrageous amount. How likely are you to rationally believe in the high unliklihood that you gave up the winner?"

I admit to buying a powerball ticket when the jackpot gets over $100 million, and I even have lucky numbers. But I'm ADD enough that I forget about the tickets I've bought, and quite a few expire before I get around to checking. Mostly, I just throw those away, because who wants to know they gave up a win like that? It's a waste of money either way, but I'd rather not know about it if I overlook a winner.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:43 AM on June 14, 2008


I like his project and I think I will send him a ticket or two. We have lurid ones here in North Carolina, now that we finally got the lottery after everyone else. I find it kind of fascinating that people are so convinced he'll scratch them off himself or think it's difficult not to check a lottery ticket.

I never check mine. I buy them occasionally and stick them in the back of my wallet or the bottom of my purse and by the time I remember they exist they're usually lost or so long has gone by that it's more trouble than it's worth to look up the winning numbers. I might have lost a million dollars by now. Or not.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:43 AM on June 14, 2008


Also, seeing so many gathered in one place made me realize how similar the designs are to slot machines, basically the same thing.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:44 AM on June 14, 2008


Well, reading what I wrote seems silly even to me, but I don't feel bad about it. I buy a ticket like once every couple months or so. Probably less than $10 a year.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:44 AM on June 14, 2008


Muddler typed "...but I have to say I'm with the crowd of people that doesn't find the meaning of life in a toilet on a pedastal in the middle of an installation."

"Must you people take over every discussion on MetaFilter?"

I choose to think of comments like these as part of a vast conceptual art project, executed with sublime patience and deadpan wit over many years, intended to illustrate the permanent instability of post-capitalist aesthetic discourse. The eventual exhibition catalogue at a small but fashionable Chelsea gallery will consist of nothing but screenshots from long-gone web forums, poignant snapshots of a befuddled culture raking the ashes of meaning. The exhibit will be entitled "I Like Art, But This Isn't Art. Or Is It?" At the opening the anonymous members of the artists' cooperative responsible will wander the room saying "I just don't get it," in voices just loud enough to be heard over the crowd's appreciative burble.
posted by dyoneo at 11:56 AM on June 14, 2008 [11 favorites]


I spend a lot of time in bars drinking with the sort of people who spend more money than they can afford on lottery tickets (and booze.) Being the curious type, I ask 'em why? "I know I'm throwing my money away on a long shot, but it's the only chance I have." This is how people think and the fact that the state government exploits this human weakness is reprehensible.

Almost as much as elitist snobs who make "art" saying I love my life so much that I do not care if I'm holding a winning ticket. Let them bring it on exhibit to my bar and see how much it will be appreciated.


3bm, perhaps a little less time spent with booze and a little more time spent with art might lead to a life for your pals where the idea of someone (in this case an artist) being not very well off and yet still content needn't be met with an aggressive hostility and implied ass kicking you currently assume they would deserve.

HuronBob, so you are saying that it's not right for anyone who is interested in this project to support it by donating materials (in this case lottery tickets)? Please explain. I am often involved in creative projects outside my paid work that I donate time and materials to. This is called supporting the artistic community, and believe it or not, this sort of collaboration between like minds happens fairly often with no expectation of financial reward for the supporters/contributers. A lot of the truly interesting and challenging work today relies on this sort of pooled creative resources. The mind boggles, right?
posted by stagewhisper at 12:02 PM on June 14, 2008


you know very well that one of these nights he's going to get drunk as a fruit fly in a vat of sangria & scratch them all off. every. damn. one.
posted by msconduct at 12:03 PM on June 14, 2008


The math of "the" lottery - of lottery games - is pretty damn cool. I know shit about math, so I'm not going to school anyone here, (where is that website... some Romanian Economist had set his mind to it and wrote some really interesting ... oh, here it is - this is the closest I can come to understanding it). The thoroughness of how heavily it is weighted against you is explained nicely by this guy.

But I met someone whose dad won. His dad had played every week (I think it was ten dollars a week) for ten years before he won. He was a janitor in mid-town NYC, a fully unionized guy, and when he won they tried to fire him he told them he would spend ever dime of his winnings (something like twelve million US) fighting to keep his pension. They gave him his pension and early retirement.

(So I think, ten a week, ten years, that's only a little more than five thousand bucks. - that is a sick return on investment. Even if it was twenty years and ten thousand bucks...) There's something tantalizing about that. Ten dollars a week is not make or break when you're working.

This project is a nice corrolary: In all those tickets, the odds must be close for one of those tickets to be a winner.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:04 PM on June 14, 2008


Um... look, I don't want to sound like I'm endorsing the Romanian Wonder Economist's methods or ideas - just as a thought exercise about the odds and how to possibly 'work' a lottery so that the odds tilt in one's favor. Here's the math page.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:10 PM on June 14, 2008


I'm waiting for someone to break in and scratch them all off.
posted by misha at 12:12 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wish the artist in question was Chris Burden, because creating cutting mockery would be so much easier.
posted by Tube at 12:13 PM on June 14, 2008


It's called gambling folks....get over it. You either win or lose. Stop all this player hating.
That guy's an idiot. He could be sitting on a jackpot. Can you imaging the look on his face when he or somebody else scratches off all the tickets and discover various jackpots. ...
but then again...I smell a hoax. He's going to scratch all those tickets and the losers will be the one who sent them in.
posted by doctorschlock at 12:24 PM on June 14, 2008


hmmmmm! Imaging......imagine......imagination!
posted by doctorschlock at 12:25 PM on June 14, 2008


That guy's an idiot. He could be sitting on a jackpot.

For those who know the answer to this question, is this even possible? Can a guy who lives in London win, say, the California lottery?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:37 PM on June 14, 2008


there is more to this story than the OP reported: alvarez, who I know, is a creative at ad agency fallon london who used unscratched lottery tickets and that line in her portfolio. it worked.

also: ali is a girl.
posted by krautland at 12:46 PM on June 14, 2008


also: ali is a girl.

Thanks, krautland, I was careful not to put any gendered pronouns in the FPP because I wasn't sure.

I didn't know there was "more to this story." Are you saying that the project is in some way related to an ad agency portfolio?
posted by amyms at 1:39 PM on June 14, 2008


funny u should mention toilets on pedestals in conjunction with a discussion of the lottery, as i've always thought the lotto machine down at the 7-11 should make flushing sounds.

i find it remarkable that no one has mentioned the statistic about winner satisfaction...over 90% of lotto winners (real lotto with BIG prizes, im assuming) state that they wish they had never won within a year of winning. winning the lottery is the surest way to destroy your life and lose everything... your family, your friends, your job, your sense of purpose and direction, etc etc

He then sealed them (unscratched) in acrylic blokes and built a little wall, which you could touch.
i dunno...i find this concept (leaving them uncovered) a lot more tantalizing...it demands a degree of self-restraint from the viewer that's uncommon in this society...especially since these cards are slathered in get-rich-quick come-ons...

Some modern art and performance art is wondeful, but I have to say I'm with the crowd of people that doesn't find the meaning of life in a toilet on a pedastal in the middle of an installation. Van Gogh, Goya, Diego Rivera - there is life.
actually, those three artists are all dead. and paintings are not living things. but you have brought up an interesting point: one of the most primary goals of art is to give the illusion of life to that which is not alive. the toilet on a pedestal you're referring to is, i believe, Marcel Duchamp's 'Fountain' from 1917 and it is one of the most important pieces of art in all of human history...not because of any 'highbrow' or 'elitist' notions (or laziness), but because of its very democratic and humanist idea that anything can become art merely by labelling it so, and that anyone can create art in their own lives, merely by altering their perspective (this fact was (literally) hammered home at its first exhibition, where attendees were invited to participate by smashing all of the art...which they did. (the piece at MoMA is a reproduction))...the 'illusion of life' Duchamp was attempting to convey was that we all posess a bit of the creative spirit (a common notion, nowadays, but far from it at the time) and that we all possess the means to express it, even if only in a small way. (it doesn't neccessarily guarantee that that art is particularly 'good,' merely that it's valid.) ...this lottery ticket piece is very interesting because of what it shows us about ourselves...our inherent greed, but also our almost limitless capacity for fantasy...THERE is life.
I'd love to see this in person...
posted by sexyrobot at 1:46 PM on June 14, 2008


"HuronBob, so you are saying that it's not right for anyone who is interested in this project to support it by donating materials (in this case lottery tickets)? Please explain."

I didn't say you shouldn't donate.... I DID say I would be more impressed if it were HER money she was pasting on her walls....

Mark my words...these tickets WILL be scratched, and our friend Ali will profit.... and she'll write the donors a thank you note, I'm sure....
posted by HuronBob at 2:18 PM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh my god, I agree with HuronBob!
posted by applemeat at 2:32 PM on June 14, 2008


When the New York Times does a study on the buying habits of 20-somethings with Master's degrees, I'm toast.

I can't find it now, but the Sydney Morning Herald had a piece a few weeks back saying that single 20-something professional women spend around 80% of their disposable income on fashion. On the bright side, at least they look good. On the downside - hang on, what were we talking about again? Oh, unscratchable lottery tickets. Sorry about the irrelevant derail. Carry on.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:50 PM on June 14, 2008


the toilet on a pedestal you're referring to is, i believe, Marcel Duchamp's 'Fountain' from 1917 and it is one of the most important pieces of art in all of human history...not because of any 'highbrow' or 'elitist' notions (or laziness), but because of its very democratic and humanist idea that anything can become art merely by labelling it so

yes, and a roomful of lottery tickets is its great-great-grandchild.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:55 PM on June 14, 2008


this makes me nervous....not sure why....
posted by femmme at 2:57 PM on June 14, 2008


So just for comparison's sake, for people who are appalled by this: how does this activity stack up against taking a stack of one hundred $10 bills into the backyard and burning them one by one?
posted by tkolar at 3:06 PM on June 14, 2008


yes, and a roomful of lottery tickets is its great-great-grandchild.

um, which was what muddler was saying in the first place. carry on, again.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:15 PM on June 14, 2008


the toilet on a pedestal you're referring to is, i believe, Marcel Duchamp's 'Fountain' from 1917 and it is one of the most important pieces of art in all of human history...not because of any 'highbrow' or 'elitist' notions (or laziness), but because of its very democratic and humanist idea that anything can become art merely by labelling it so

But Duchamp moved on after he made this point (the optical discs, the large glass, pretending to play chess for decades while he worked on Etant Donnes, etc.). His childish children never seem to, just moving from facile conceptual piece to facile conceptual piece. It's boring.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:56 PM on June 14, 2008


This doesn't faze me either, but then again I am the kind of person who can leave a phone ringing. I know many friends who would twitch at the thought... and that makes me admire the project.

He should really laminate the wall(s) when done, so they're sealed forever and nobody can ever know what's under there. You know, like the bar tabletops that pour liquid plastic over all the odd currency.
posted by rokusan at 4:03 PM on June 14, 2008


I want to talk to her... seduce her... scratch off... a nice pearl necklace. -- doctorschlock

I should learn not to skim comments.
posted by rokusan at 4:04 PM on June 14, 2008


Many of these things you don't even have to scratch. They have a barcode on the back and when you bring your ticket to the store to redeem it, they don't even look at the scratched off part. They just scan it and give you your money. Or more lottery tickets.

There is a number under the scratched-off part, usually toward the bottom, that the redeemer has to also be able to read. You can't tell from just the barcode. That would be a bad idea for obvious reasons.

I'd be curious to see what the statistical chance is that one of those 8000 tickets would be a, say, $1000+ winner, although I suppose you'd have to average the separate odds of winning from each one.
posted by churl at 4:10 PM on June 14, 2008


although I suppose you'd have to average the separate odds of winning from each one.

on that note, the legal right to introduce poker machines into sydney pubs killed off the live music scene a decade or more ago, as publicans realised that people feeding money into those things was far more profitable and far less trouble than organising bands & hoping that enough people showed up & bought enough booze.

on a sign outside one of the former music venues, i saw the following slogan: "best poker machine rates in the city! our machines pay out 87% [of what you put in]!1!!"

how anybody could read that & see it as a positive is beyond me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 PM on June 14, 2008


Once in a bar, I met these two older guys who had just gotten off working on the power lines, the older Puerto Rican guy said "My name's Miguel, this is Lenny," he said pointing to a gray-bearded black guy in a plaid shirt, "but we call him Scratch-Off cos he loves those instant tickets."
posted by jonmc at 4:44 PM on June 14, 2008


lotteries are BY DEFINITION a ripoff

No, no, these are scratch-offs.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:49 PM on June 14, 2008


But Duchamp moved on after he made this point (the optical discs, the large glass, pretending to play chess for decades while he worked on Etant Donnes, etc.). His childish children never seem to, just moving from facile conceptual piece to facile conceptual piece. It's boring.

well...you know...it can be...but not everyone can create entire genres...most artists merely refine what has come before...look at matisse for example...he never founded his own movement, only contributed to those founded by others. does that make his work any less valuable or relevant? of course not. that being said, i have seen some real stinkers out there, but not enough to discount all conceptual art on principle, as many seem to do. it's understandable though...most conceptual pieces are really simple and to many that seems like something really easy to do, a total cop-out. its not. it can be really hard to express a complex thought in a simple manner...and really powerful, as well...that one damien hirst piece, Theories, Models, Methods, Approaches, Assumptions, Results, and Findings, (which should really be seen in motion to appreciate) gave me the biggest case of goosebumps because of how much it says about existence with just two boxes of pingpong balls and a fan. i'm reminded of a quote...its either pollock or motherwell...when asked how long it took to paint a particular piece, something remarkably simple...they answered "my whole life"
also, duchamp really didn't just 'move on'...he made tons of his 'readymades'...he even made multiple copies of some of them...he even made miniatures of them and included them as parts of other pieces. (...he even once, upon finding dust on one of his works, adhered it with spray fixative and counted it as part of the piece...majorly i <3 duchamp)
posted by sexyrobot at 8:28 PM on June 14, 2008


But as you point out, he made the readymades part of a fully developed and complex aesthetic: "Fountain" and the concept of the everyday object repurposed as art isn't the beginning and end of what Duchamp did. And I don't agree that Matisse wasn't innovative (the way he used cut outs in his old age jumps to mind), but even if he had been he did interesting and compelling work that contributed to the body of human culture, not facile gimmicks that no one gives a shit about twenty seconds later, like this project or that guy who does the statues of celebrities.

(And I don't have a problem with conceptual art per se: Sol Lewitt, for instance, was brilliant and his works when executed are amazing and powerful.)
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:38 AM on June 15, 2008


So just for comparison's sake, for people who are appalled by this: how does this activity stack up against taking a stack of one hundred $10 bills into the backyard and burning them one by one?

I think it's very different. Burning money makes a very direct statement about the meaning of the promissory note. Check out the KLF burning a million quid, note by note in 1994.

Scratchcards are a consumable good. They are not money, they stand between the cash that did exist to pay for the card but is now spent, and the potential (unreal) cash to be revealed or not post-scratch. Displaying them unscratched means you've extended that space indefinately. Burning cash means a pile of ashes (among other things). Totally different dynamic.
posted by freya_lamb at 5:36 AM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Muddler typed "...but I have to say I'm with the crowd of people that doesn't find the meaning of life in a toilet on a pedastal in the middle of an installation."

Must you people take over every discussion on MetaFilter?


Ummm, so long as people see the need to take every half-assed "art" project and make it a FPP, yes, if by "you people" you mean other MeFi members, will enter the discussion and make comments regarding whether the FPP is about art or just some attention whore throwing crap on a wall. I know you want us to go "Gosh, neet, I should think about my economic place in the universe and whether the hopes and dreams associated with lotteries are empty buckets." - followed by hundreds of posts on the meaning of life - but that isn't going to happen because this artist's work is shallow.

Note how the op ed piece "took over" the discussion - because it had some substance and something to talk about. Post that on the front page along with further discussion links, and we have something. A guy with scratch off tickets and a stapler? Huge fail.

I know it is very trendy and democratic to think anything anyone does and calls art is worth the world paying attention to, but that doesn't make it smart. Art critique should involve a discussion as to whether something is good or bad, meaningful or worthless. I'm sure you'll say that someday the starving artist will emerge as a god and critics will be shown as frauds...meh. Sometimes that happens, but as with many things in life, sometimes the critics, professional or just those posting on MeFi, have a point. So, if it ends the silly discussion over whether something is art - yes, yes, everything you would like to call art can be called art if it makes you happy.

Now let's move on and talk about whether it is good art or crap. Sorry, this is crap, and I'm happy to be one of the MeFi folks that thinks there are too many FPP posts these days, and a great many of them are these near one-link wonders that pont to one guys weak attempt at an art statement. Come on, can't we do better?
posted by Muddler at 7:58 AM on June 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Muddler says:
Art critique should involve a discussion as to whether something is good or bad, meaningful or worthless.

Ummm, I thought that was what we were doing? The posters such as yourself who keep putting "art" in quotation marks are the ones who are derailing the very discussion you insist we should be having instead. It seems mefi is divided on whether or not this piece is effective. This division does not mean the project wasn't worth posting about. But your opinion is duly noted.
posted by stagewhisper at 9:06 AM on June 15, 2008


Muddler, I'm not sure how to respond to all of the assumptions you're throwing about. But perhaps it should give you pause to note that "a toilet on a pedastal in the middle of an installation"--your apparent go-to example of LOLARTISTS, is a piece that is nearly 100 years old and has been copied and parodied and argued about for several generations. It's fine if it's uninteresting to you (as has been mentioned above, Fountain is not really interesting or useful in the same way it was in 1917), but it's not the wacky fringe you seem to think it is. That, in addition to your use of phrases like "the meaning of life," betrays a pretty shallow understanding of what you're talking about.

Art critique should involve a discussion as to whether something is good or bad, meaningful or worthless.

Yes I suppose, but unless the most you can hope for as a critic is to write one of those LOL news stories they have every year listing the papers presented at the MLA convention, your criticism should go a little bit further. "Is it art?" is, in the end, a boring, tired question.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:53 AM on June 15, 2008


alright, who opened the worm can? ;)

I don't agree that Matisse wasn't innovative (the way he used cut outs in his old age jumps to mind)

firstly, dont get me wrong, i love matisse (my mother has a first edition of the 'jazz' book, its huge and beautiful and i'm glad i grew up with it around...it has long been an inspiration to me), but the simplification of his later work really had a lot less to do with innovation and came about mostly due to the severe physical infirmities that he suffered later in life. and even then, collages, even simple ones made from colored paper instead of previously existent imagery, were hardly 'innovative' at the time...

my point was merely that not being a trail-blazer of new genres or movements doesn't necessarily make an artist or his work less important, and that it's totally possible to create interesting (and yes, alright, innovative) work without having to take on the additional burden of having it be in a totally new field of ones own creation.

(on a side note, one of my favorite pieces of his is the snail, from his very last series of work...i've always imagined it as a self-portrait...old and fat and slow, but still bursting with color and life...) (also the thing is freakin' HUGE...sorry...when it comes to art i'm kind of a size queen ;) it's probably one of the reasons i like this concept...i really groove on environments)

but even if he had been he did interesting and compelling work that contributed to the body of human culture,
absolutely
not facile gimmicks that no one gives a shit about twenty seconds later, like this project or that guy who does the statues of celebrities.

well...i'll agree about anything involving 'celebrities' (monkeys have been shown to prefer looking at pictures of higher-ranking monkeys in their tribe to recieving tasty snacks...the entire concept of 'celebrity' isn't a human one, but a sub-human one), but this piece is a bit more interesting (to me anyway), and i definitely wouldn't classify it as a rip-off of a readymade...one ticket, sure, but not an entire environment made of them...it actually says a good bit about human nature, desire, randomness, wealth, happiness, deception, the world economy, etc, etc, in a pretty simple way...i'd actually like to see this one in person, to be surrounded by the pure dazzle of it. but you are correct that there is a lot of pure shit out there, but i tend to chalk that up to the relative newness of conceptualism and the human tendency to jump on a bandwagon, combined with the intrinsic difficulty of saying complex things in a simple way. (i touched on this before, this 'economy of line', but seriously...its the hardest thing to do...the grandest example of this, of course, is the design (be it intelligent, self-generating, or otherwise) of our entire universe...everywhere you look its complexities within complexities, but what's it made of? a handful of different particles following a handful of rules. maybe it's not an 'intelligent design', but it's still brilliant)

*sigh* on a side note:

Ummm, so long as people see the need to take every half-assed "art" project and make it a FPP, and BLAH BLAH and other MeFi members, will enter the discussion and make comments regarding whether the FPP is about BLAH BLAH "took over" the discussion - because it had some substance and something to talk about. Post that on the front page along with further discussion links, and we have BLAH BLAH and I'm happy to be one of the MeFi folks that thinks there are too many FPP posts these days, and a great many of them are these near one-link wonders and BLAH BLAH BLAH and ETC ETC ETC

please confine all meta-complaining to meta-talk, thats where it meta-lives. no one is meta-twisting your meta-arm to meta-read any of this. the validity of any FPP is defined by the posting rules, the opinions of those who post, and no one else. sorry. if it's not interesting enough for you, then go see a movie or clean your garage or something (anything) other than maligning amyms or any other mefite who drops an interesting tidbit in our collective laps.

also, 70+ comments is maybe a hint that this piece is maybe a bit noteworthy, no?
also, what rolltruck said.
also, calling this 'crap stuck on a wall' underestimates the time, skill, and dedication required to wallpaper an entire room with ~4 inch square pieces of cardstock. (just learned how to wallpaper...it aint easy.)
posted by sexyrobot at 6:47 PM on June 15, 2008


sexyrobot - go back and dissect your count. You'll find that the comments in this thread are largely of two types. The first type is a string of people talking about lotteries and the merits thereof, most jumping off from the NY Times OpEd. In other words, the lottery issue is interesting and the OpEd is interesting - not much is said about the actual work of art. The second group is talking about the merits of the work and debating the futile debate of what is art. I stand by my opinion that hanging a sign on something and calling it art doesn't make it so, nor does it make anything labeled art worthy of great admiration, thought, or attention.

A relative few posts are actually about the work itself, and those largely point out how this is a retread of the various art works that play on the concept of destroying things of potential value - like burning money. Yawn.

I really don't care if some MeFi members think I'm shallow because I don't get all gooey inside over some pieces of over-hyped modern art. Some modern art is quite wonderful - not all of it. This is true of every category of art, and generally of every artist. Oh, and yes, I'm well aware of the supposed meaning of the Fountain - it's pretentious. Don't presume that just because I don't like it that I don't know anything about it. The only thing more pretentious than the Fountain are those in the art community that foist its "greatness" upon everyone around them.
posted by Muddler at 7:29 PM on June 15, 2008


For what it's worth, I enjoy reading everyone's comments (as long as they aren't being abusive on a personal level - and none were). The Muddlers of the world and the sexyrobots of the world, and the rolltruckrolls and everyone in between, with various opinions, are what make Metafilter interesting.

I posted the FPP, not because I thought of the project as a great work of art, but because I thought the idea of purposefully leaving lottery tickets unscratched was thought-provoking, and indeed it was. I wasn't even thinking of it in "art" terms, "half-assed" or otherwise, because I was more interested in the concept behind it. The fact that it led into other lottery-related tangents is not an indictment of the worthiness of the discussion, it's just another factor that makes Metafilter an engaging and intelligent place to be.
posted by amyms at 8:32 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


A relative few posts are actually about the work itself, and those largely point out how this is a retread of the various art works that play on the concept of destroying things of potential value - like burning money. Yawn.

Just the other weekend, I was loving a retrospective exhibition of Aussie artist Fiona Hall's work. One of my favourites was Tender - replicas of birds' nests made from shredded US dollar notes.

Also wonderful was Leaf Litter - exotic old banknotes painted over with botanical diagrams of the main traded commodities from those countries - eg cinnamon painted on old Indian Rupees.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:05 PM on June 15, 2008


I was at the Whitney a few months back and there was this pretty bland installation (prior to the current Biennial). In this one spot, on the floor, there was a round paint splatter or spill, and to prevent people from walking on "the art" a security guard had to stand right by it. The paint was beyond worthy of notice, but the relationship of the guard to that spot was striking. I felt as if the paint was only there so that it could be protected by the security guard, as if the guard himself was the artwork and the paint "spill" merely the marker for where to stand.
posted by yeti at 8:54 AM on June 16, 2008


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