Recently, I listened to an inspirational online talk, given by Leila Johnston called ‘Making Things Fast’ http://vimeo.com/17555310 and have set this as a challenge to myself, particularly as a maker of sometimes detailed, labour-intensive, intricately-made objects. What will happen I wonder, if I adopt this new speedy approach? Well, according to Leila, who cares? It will be the process that counts, and this has certainly been the case over the last couple of weeks.
Conversations about money, talks about different economies, discussions about value… Since the beginning of the residency, I have had the great pleasure of meeting with some fascinating, and uniquely positioned people, and gained a huge amount of insight from listening to their personal and professional observations on coinage, and recording these dialogues for regular reference. The Technology Manager at the Royal Mint for example, confirms that coin demand and production is growing every year, and not decreasing in favour of new digital currencies. Yet the Curator of Modern Money at the British Museum is wondering how he will collect and curate in future, if there are few objects to present and fewer stories to be told. A cabinet full of mobile phones does not appeal. Incidentally, the British Museum’s new Money Gallery includes a BitCoin chip, which, intriguingly, was produced so that BitCoin, the online digital currency, would have a form of physical presence. As the BitCoin motto suggests, perhaps there is Vires in Numeris or ‘Strength in Numbers’, regardless of whether these digits are representational, real or virtual.
Talking of money, this cheerful film from 1947 usefully asks ‘what is money anyway?’ and gave me great delight for all of its 10 minutes and 33 seconds: http://archive.org/details/WhatIsMo1947
But of course, alongside all these philosophical and discursive considerations, I now have to stick to my own challenge of making things fast. (Let it be confessed that composing this project update has already taken far more time than I think Leila Johnston would allow). The research over the last few weeks has been invaluable and will continue to influence and inform my artistic decisions and methods, but now, after this recent series of money talks, I need to engage myself in a little less conversation, and a little more action.
Display of coins in the new Citi Money Gallery at The British Museum, London.
The ambiguity of monetary value is summed up by the Trillion Dollar poster, printed on worthless banknotes at the height of Zimbabwe's hyperinflation.