Painting by numbers

  • Mathematical models: Arié Haziza’s triptych Wild Randomness is meant to convey how sudden catastrophic events can interrupt our lives  (Photograph supplied)
  • Mathematical models: Arié Haziza’s triptych Wild Randomness is meant to convey how sudden catastrophic events can interrupt our lives
  • Arie Haziza’s lollipop diagram (Photograph supplied)
  • Arie Haziza’s bar graph, part of his Wild Randomness triptych (Photograph supplied)

Arié Haziza’s art speaks to what is going on inside his head. Called Wild Randomness, the triptych on display as part of the 2020 Bermuda Biennial is a series of numbers — as a list, a line graph and a bar chart.

Steady for a period, their pattern is interrupted by sudden leaps and drastic dips.

“The numbers look pretty quiet at first,” said Mr Haziza, head of catastrophe risk analytics at Allied World Assurance Company.

“The reality is that those numbers tell a story of violent upheaval.

“What it shows most are the severe deviations you can have when it comes to randomness. You have these very constant, small numbers and then out of nowhere you get a huge shift.”

The pieces do not have individual names and are meant to be enjoyed as a whole.

He considers himself a collector of “wild randomness” and enjoys designing elaborate mathematical models to generate simulated extreme behaviour data samples.

It took him 14 months to complete Wild Randomness. While creating it, his thoughts drifted to catastrophic events that can happen due to a natural disaster or climate change.

“We try to position ourselves to understand the underlying stuff,” he said.

“I worked with Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. We collaborated on a few topics. His whole idea is, what do you do when you don’t know?”

Mr Hazizia likened the pandemic to the 9.1-magnitude earthquake that shook Japan on March 11, 2011.

The earthquake generated a tsunami that flooded the buffer electrical systems at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which in turn resulted in a significant nuclear accident.

“I would argue that global climate change belongs to that class of cascading events and is a significant challenge for the future of the planet,” he said.

“I often refer to global climate change as the mother of all cascading phenomena or, in mathematical language, as a ‘factorial cascading event’.”

His love of art stemmed from his childhood. His family “used to read a lot about art and think a lot about art”.

As a result, “doing art seemed very normal”.

His usual medium is photography. Normally, he likes to keep his artwork quiet, but he decided to enter the Biennial because of the theme chosen by the Bermuda National Gallery: ‘Let Me Tell You Something’.

“I thought it was pretty cool,” he said. “So I submitted. I don’t do art for a living, so I didn’t really expect to get in. It was a good surprise when my work was accepted.”

His friends were not at all surprised that he used numbers to express himself through art. “They said they’d expect something like that from me,” he laughed.

“It may not appear to be art to some people. This body of work was a way to try to express my idea in a way that was not obvious. If people don’t react well, to each his own. One lady said the piece that just shows rows of numbers made her feel dizzy. That roller-coaster feeling was what I was getting at.”

With the BNG closed because of Covid-19, the Biennial can only be seen on the gallery’s website and YouTube.

Mr Haziza thinks seeing the work in person will be quite different from seeing it on a computer screen.

“They are not small canvases,” he said.

“You don’t really get the scale from the virtual exhibition.”

See the Bermuda National Gallery’s Bermuda Biennial 2020 at