Allan McCollum - The Shapes Project

7056 Monoprints from The Shapes Project, 2005/05. Framed digital prints, each unique, signed, and numbered. 4.25 x 5.5 inches each, on acid-free bond paper. Installation: Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York, 2006.

In 2005, the artist designed The Shapes Project, a combinatorial system to produce "a completely unique shape for every person on the planet, without repeating."[The system involves organizing a basic vocabulary of 300 "parts" which can be combined in over 30 billion different ways, created as "vector files" in a computer drawing program. McCollum has used the system in collaborations with a community library, schoolchildren, home craftworkers, writers, architects, and other artists, as the Shapes are created to be used for many different kinds of projects, and so far have been produced in the form of both prints and sculpture, in Plexiglas, Corian, plywood, hardwoods, metals, rubber, and fabric, in a variety of sizes. In 2010, he published "The Book of Shapes", in collaboration with mfc-michèle didier. This book makes the Shapes Project complete : The first volume contains the 300 shapes "parts," and the second one includes the guides and instructions for creating all possible combinations with these components. That same year, he organized the Shapes for Hamilton project, in which a unique signed and dated Shapes print was made for each of the 6,000+ residents of the town of Hamilton, New York.


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