I collaborated with Neil Farnan and Metod Blejec to produce a currency for #TransActing.
About a year ago, we started discussing the possibility of developing a Local Currency (LC) for #TransActing; a Market of Values.
We thought it would be good to have a medium which could be used to exchange knowledge, goods and services, and at the same time a technology to heighten awareness to what was being transacted, i.e., attention, time, care, and by whom.
These are things that, traditionally, money tends to erase. We wanted the currency to be one of the places where the various values transacted at the market, would leave a trace.
After hours and hours of discussion, and some prototyping we decided that:-
The currency will be composed of 4 denominations; Time, Wellbeing, Knowledge and Creativity.
Each denomination is identified by a different material - plywood, felt, recycled card and perspex, and represented by an appropriate icon.
The shape of the currency is hexagonal, to encourage interlocking and interdependancy.
The currency has five key features:
1 - to act as a medium of exchange; to encourage value transactions at #TransActing through time and space
2 - to question the primacy of money as a 'universal solvent', in exchanging goods and services
3 - as a unit of account, to intensify attention on the moment when values are transacted
4 - to act as a claim on future value
5 - For its intrinsic value, as a beautiful thing
Designed by Metod, the currency was laser-etched and cut by Neil Farnam at Machines Room in Hackney.
At #TransActing I found myself welcoming visitors. As part of the welcome I introduced the idea that the market was exploring and exchanging values - and the stallholders were artists, designers, theorists, activists, etc.
I also suggested that to participate in transactions in the market (like in all markets, everywhere) they would need currency, and that the most visible currency they had, money, might not necessarily work. I then gave them some Time and proposed this was a value that they could exchange for other things.
"How much is it worth?" people would sometimes ask. Hmmm...., I suggested they could never know unless they tried to exchange it for something else. If there was a group, I might give one person Wellbeing and imply this was more scarce than Time, more valuable......I tried to introduce difference.
I would also explain there were four denominations - Time, Wellbeing, Knowledge and Creativity, and that it might be interesting to try and collect all four, I would also suggest Creativity was very rare, very rare, very valuable.
When I transacted with stallholders in the market, I would try to bargain, or at least introduce a discussion about what was being transacted.
At the thickear stall for example, where my personal data was exchanged for an audio tape, I tried to pay with Knowledge. They politely refused, suggesting that the exchange was equitable and no additional value was necessary. I discreetly gave them a 'backhander', I slipped one of the stallholders Creativity and the other Wellbeing.
At another stall, using multiple Wellbeing and Time, I exchanged for a book.
Sometimes, when people were leaving the Market they would offer the currency they had accrued back to me, although I encouraged them to hang on to it, as it will be sure to appreciate.
Chelsea College of Arts
16 John Islip Street