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Gentlemen of Chance — 2016

Gentlemen of Chance is a slow communication experiment in social hacktivism and “spiritual bureaucracy”. The art/action/communication consists of mailing 108 letters to prominent public figures from the Forbes 400. These are people who may influence fortunes or multitudes. Each letter contains a unique type-art impression designed for the recipient. The letter invites each person on a hero’s journey mindfulness practice to discover what action they are destined to take to help repair imbalance in the world as they see it. The letter requests that each recipient respond with their journey’s findings by filling in an enclosed “form” and mailing it back to the artist.

  1. The Communication – “Gentlemen of Chance” message recipients each receive a hand typed, formal, business letter on vintage stationery with a surrealist array of stamps and graphics that differentiate the letter from the rest of the postal mail. Each “gentleman of chance” is invited on a hero’s journey meditation with a specific set of instructions. They are invited to use an enclosed type-art as a graphic key to their experience.
  2. The Gift – One-of-a-kind type art images for this action are created using only the period symbol from a 1965 Olivetti Underwood. Art works are created in three-by-three-inch squares on vintage arctic white laid typing paper. The images consist of marks of various pressures using only the period (full stop) key on the typewriter. Some marks are overtyped one or more times. Each piece is created in duplicate, using carbon paper. The copy is enclosed with each letter to be used as a key for the recipient’s journey. Each square is one section of a larger 36″ x 36″ work. Please see notes below on the representation and significance this format.
  3. The Reply – “Form 108”  asks its recipient what impressions s/he experiences from their journey. It compels the recipient to participate in a bureaucratic response format to help them on their mindfulness pathway. “Form 108 – Notice” is included with a self addressed, postage paid “non-business reply” envelope to facilitate return to the artist. The form is created again in the same format as The Gift, to eventually create an additional large scale type-art image, should the Notices be returned to the artist.

Gentlemen of Chance Details and Notes

  1. The Communication:
    1. Working as an individual and making tenuous contact with public figures through the mail creates both possibility and doubt. During the construction and production of the hand typed letters, questions of value, purpose, relevance and outcomes inevitably surface for me.
    2. It is useful to note that the letters themselves may not be read by their recipients, but that it is the act of authoring, drafting, and hand-typing that is the purpose of the work.
  2. The Gift:
    1. The enclosed letter mailart sent with each communication is produced through a slow and highly repetitive process. Each impression carries multiple meanings and representation both for the artist and for the work itself. The tedious and repetitive letter writing and mail art production evokes an altered state of presence.
    2. Individual squares each consist of 1,390  periods, overtypes or spaced placeholders. Each square represents the average individual 2015 net worth calculated from the full list of 108 individuals. Each impression, overtype or placeholder is equal to US$1Million. Images with more impressions are mailed to recipients with higher net worth. Ongoing calculations page here.
    3. All 108 originals together form one 36-by-36-inch, black-and-white, type-art, pointillist image made up of 150,900 total impressions or spaces. These impressions as actions taken in the creation of the work, represent the total net worth (2015) of the 108 individuals combined (US$1.509 Trillion) with each point, overtype or space representing US$1Million.
      1. It is interesting to note that US$1.5 Trillion is roughly equal to the GDP for 2014 of the country of Australia. 
      2. It is interesting to note that at the U.S. federal minimum wage it would take a worker 66 years and 4 months working full time to earn US$1M, the amount represented by a single point on Gentlemen of Chance.
  3. The Reply
    1. “Form 108 – Notice” conceptually asks what the original 1040 tax form would look like if it were re-envisioned to accommodate non-governmental, non-financial reporting.
    2. The original U.S. 1040 form represents the first time a national income tax was put into place permanently in the U.S. It’s purpose was to tax income on both individuals and corporations. The tax assumes an earner’s responsibility to society in its mandate. With Form 108 – Notice, a question is asked about what other non-tangible responsibilities are present in the amassing of wealth. Only the recipients of the forms will be able to answer these questions.

Sources and Tools:


The Type Bar — 2002 – 2016

Public Art. Typewriters, stationery, stamps, multi-media, found objects

The Type Bar is a portable public art service. Participants engage in the simple activity of writing a letter, but do so semi-publicly, out loud, and out of time, based on the Type Bar protocol. The purpose of the Type Bar is to stop time and allow for participants to share messages that may not otherwise be communicated. Visit The Type Bar The project is also a vehicle for typewriter visual art experiments and letters of petition.


Kinetic Umbra — 2015

Long Exposure Photography

Having practiced many styles of breath and movement, I want to explore what shapes the practices leave in space. My intention is to record the full range of a flow in one exposure to discover what that might reveal about the practice and about the body. The act of recording these images is an especially intensive in-the-body experience as the movements need to be consistent throughout the entire exposure. In addition, these photographs take place in complete darkness where I am blind. This acts to deepen the practice, timing, breath and balance. Visit Kinetic Umbra for more.




Paper Cuts — 1997 – 2008

Cut Paper. Ingres, rice paper, handmade paper, razor knife

The oldest surviving paper cut out is a symmetrical circle from the 6th century Six Dynasties period found in Xinjiang China. Since that time cultures and artists from around the world have adopted papercuts in their own right or as a tool for pattern stencils. I used paper cutting to explore themes in nature, balance and classic themes.


Deeper Jester — 2004

Installation. Corrugated cardboard, printed short story, lights

Deeper Jester was commissioned by Basswerks gallery and performance space. The work sought to create an indoor true-blind labyrinth with a minimum of recycled materials. A singe 250 foot roll of 6 foot tall corrugated cardboard standing alone was used for the main structure. Short story segments were printed on cards set throughout the maze, and in the center guests found a couch for relaxing and contemplating (or maybe making out).


Mojave Labyrinth — 2001

Installation. Stone, found objects.

Inspired by earth works of Smithson and Goldsworthy, the Mojave Labyrinth installation offers a ritual space for a private retreat center in the desert. The simple walking labyrinth allows a participant access to a time-tested tool for reflection. The structure itself beckons a guest to add their own contributions by way of small stones.


Enzyme — 1994 – 1997

Publication. Original Photography, word processor, xerox and xerox transfer, correspondence art.

Enzyme served as a trans-atlantic trade publication for the underground electro and dark wave music scenes.



Arthur Grau has worked in design, performing, and media arts throughout his life. Themes that arise in his work include meditations on natural forms, public participation, and representations of esoteric symbolism. Early works include multi-media graphics as Enzyme, and music recordings and performances with ‘Missed in Diary’ and ‘Dissolve’. Later, under the name Circa, his work centered on two-dimensional design and three-dimensional installation. Through intricate cut paper art, he explored geometry, symbology and meditation. Labyrinth installations and experiences, ‘Deeper Jester’, ‘Man-dala’, and ‘Mojave’ engaged the public to explore themselves and surroundings in new ways. (‘Mojave’ is now made visible by Google Earth.) Arthur’s latest activities include; ‘Kinetic Umbra’, an exploration of the human form in long exposure; ‘’The Type Bar’, a participatory storytelling project; and ‘Gentlemen of Chance’, a mail art experiment in spiritual bureaucracy.