Please keep in mind that this post is more than 3 years old. Opinions change. Tastes change. Everything changes. I may still agree with or like this, or I may not. But everything is kept up here for archival purposes.
Cash Money / December 14, 2004
I had another thought today.
*insert your own joke her*
It’s actually another thesis project, to go along with my previous possibilities. I was in Border’s reading the back cover blurb of the Illuminatus Trilogy. It promises to confront various issues, including the pyramid that shows up on the dollar bill.
Well… ignoring the conspiratorial overtones of that particular novel, it made me think about the appearance of money. Being a designer, and a lonely, lonely person, I spend most of my time thinking about the appearance of things. Initially I thought that it could be interesting to redo the paper cash of the US. Clean it up. Make it more in line with modern culture, rather than a collection of antiquated symbolism and archaic security features. Who doesn’t see the anachronism of paying for your re-writable compact discs with a piece of flaccid paper covered in imagery that hasn’t been contemporary since before FedEx was powered by the Pony Express?
But just as quickly as that thought came to me, I realized it wouldn’t work. It would be a pointless exercise, doomed to a miserable failure in even the most basic of focus groups or peer review. Cash–cold, harsh greenbacks–are one of those rare physical items that people consciously trust in the image of more than in the physical nature. It’s a comfort item… a security blanket. In a vain culture, this ugly, little, wrinkled thing inspires cult-like devotion.
So yeah… to cut the thought short, that was my thesis. To find out how and why people value the physical object that is a dollar bill. Why are people thrown into near revolt when a pale wash of color is added to the $20 bill. Why does a bigger picture of the president cause people to declare it to be play money?
Anyway… I call it a thesis project because I specifically don’t want to get into it here.