Bjørn Melbye Gulliksen

Bjørn Melbye Gulliksen
Photo: Alf Ertsland

The game of chance, as it is called, refers to that which lies outside of the laws of cause and effect. In Bjørn Melbye Gulliksen’s art, random events play a very central role, in well-conceived works where nothing can be said to have been left to chance! Calculation of the possibilities of chance can in fact be quantified and given physical form, as in the work “Lysbildemaskin stål” (“Slide machine in Steel”), with its 64,000,000 possible variations.

For Gulliksen, it is important that the technique itself has simple principles and is as visible as possible, so that the viewer can understand what happens when they see the sculpture. He emphasizes his role as sculptor with the design of the work, by the form of the pedestal and that the work first and foremost becomes interesting as a sculpture.

In an age where digital systems control most of our world and existence, some artists hold on to the mechanical and the analog. Gulliksen is an experienced exponent of this. In one of Gulliksen’s series of what he refers to as eternity machines, he was inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “The Library of Babel” and constructed a mini version of “the ultimate image machine”, which generates all the possible combination of images that can be found. Gulliksen’s interest in number systems and chaos theories has led to several similar sculptures, developed after he contacted research communities and gained access to advanced calculators. One of his works can display no less than 9.7 trillion variations.

When probability calculations tell us what it takes to win a lottery, we lose our illusions about winning first prize. The experience of Gulliksen’s kinetic sculptures, on the other hand, must be said to be very rewarding, as he philosophises about and illustrates fascinating connections in a visually striking way.

Text: Grethe Hald
Translation: Glen Farley