Currency is an exhibition I designed for Atlanta non-profit Practise Makes Practice. Practise Makes Practice asked me to design an exhibition based off the one word prompt, "Currency". I focused on our transition from a currency system that consisted of items with inherit value to today's system of symbolic value. I presented a study that dissected the graphic language and physical material of currency throughout human history. I gave a lecture about my design process for the project and held a Q&A on opening night.
When we examine currency over time, we have transitioned from a system of inherit value to a system of symbolic value. Currency’s value was derived from its function until recently. Money was cattle, weapons, rice, or gold. But today, our currency has no inherent value. Money is little more than a social contract: an agreement we will all play the same game, and we do.
In our society, we accept payment with otherwise meaningless pieces of plastic, strips of cotton paper, or digital graphics. Without inherent value, we have entered a new era where abstract symbols, stories, and ideas determine value. This idea is also evident in brands today. We pay significantly more for clothing, products, or experiences from brands with symbols, stories, or ideas that we perceive as more valuable. Currency seeks to strip down this system and study the graphic language at face value.
Photos by Wyatt Kane.