On March 31, German artist Hendrik Schneider staged a one-hour performance, the products of which are now in a London gallery show exploring the obsolescence of paper cash, and the disconnect between this physical form and the value it represents. After studying the London economy and the effect of inflation, Schneider conceived the project, in which he cut down bank notes to a size proportionate to their post-inflation value.
Each note had a small section, proportional to the interest rate, sliced off it. The notes were divided at different points before being taped back together without the missing slice. The result is a number of siices, one each from numerous notes at a different part of the note’s design, which were then taped to one another to create a whole new note out of almost nothing.
Schneider subsequently developed a strategy to use his slimmed-down notes for the next month, paying for everything, including his rent, with the customised cash and keeping a list of what he spent it on. What this demonstrated is just how much of a symbol paper money really is: “I never had a problem with the money being accepted,” he tells Wired.co.uk, “even Oyster card machines accepted it because it’s still real money.”
This artistic play on the randomness of paper cash as a symbol and the “emotional interpretaions of economic worth” is particularly timely as developers are working hard to create new ways (through NFC technology, as we’ve covered) for consumers to wield currency.