Money, that’s what I want

For those of us living in a capitalist society, there is an inexorable link between our lives, our perceived happiness, and the bits of paper we exchange for goods and services. A banknote has no inherent value, it is merely a reference to a sum, held in our names, by the issuing authority – in the UK, the bank of England.

There is an imbalance of opportunity inherent in cash, the rich have access to more of the world than the poor. Many people are obsessed with money, the ‘creation’ and acquisition of wealth in-and-of itself. This is, of course, an illusion – the actual value of money is a flexible agreement within a society mediated by the shifting tides of the economy. When that agreement of trust is compromised the ramifications can be substantial. Witness the recent crash in world markets, leaving this country, and many more, with unimaginably large debts, created in our name to prop up ‘the banking system’.

I started a campaign of subtly defacing currency about two years ago. Using a custom ink-stamp and UV ink, I have been tagging all the money that passes through my hands. To date, that’s now well into the thousands of pounds. The stamp itself is invisible, until illuminated under a blacklight – commonly used in this country to check for counterfeit notes.

This work is really about how we use these pieces of paper as markers of our passage through time. We spend to live, and live to spend. Each note we hand over gets us a little closer to death…

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The Fortune Cats (2009)

It’s been rather quiet at recently, because of my involvement in Brighton’s White Night art festival. My long-time collaborator Sam Hewitt and I were commissioned by Brighton & Hove council to create a secret centrepiece to the festival. The theme was ‘fortune’, and we responded by creating two giant robotic Japanese Fortune Cats, who would answer questions live in Jubilee Square.

This turned out to be quite an undertaking, involving participation from twenty one artists, actors and roboticists. I am pleased to say the evening went without major incident, and the cats spoke through the night from 7pm to 1am, imparting words of wisdom to hundreds of visitors.

I’ll be uploading more information on the development of this idea over on over the next few weeks, in the meantime here’s a film of the cats in situ.

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Aphorisms al fresco

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the late great Ivor Cutler on a couple of occassions. At one of these meetings he gave me some of his stickers, and always vowed to create some of my own. (I kept the stickers in my wallet for years, until I lost them when being held up at gun-point in LA.)

So, inspired by Cutler, I created some images of pertinent philosophical aphorisms and sent them off to moo to be printed.

At the moment they’re mostly going up in places of contemplation, such as urinals and condom machines.

“There are no facts, only interpretations” – Friedrich Nietzsche

"Pardon me, my friends, I have ventured to paint my happiness on the wall" - Friedrich Nietzsche
“Pardon me, my friends, I have ventured to paint my happiness on the wall” – Friedrich Nietzsche

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