— THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE

REIMAGINING THE GREENBACK.

I can across this very interesting project a couple of days ago, and thought it was worth a share. It’s the Dollar ReDe$ign project. Running for a few years, the project is a response through design to the ongoing economic woes that plague the United States. Now admittedly, the scope of changing the Dollar design is dwarfed by the various stimuli that have been undertaken by the Federal Reserve in the last few years, but it does present an interesting Design Project, that therefore deserves more attention.

The initial design that drew me to the site was this set by Dowling Duncan, this US/British Design Studio’s approach is brilliantly graphic, with strong hints of Swiss Modernist design running through them, but they have a real freshness to them, really unexpected and bold, what you imgine the best of the USA to even in the way they have been shifted 90º to a portrait style which adds gravitas to the imagery selected, and works much better as a ‘set’ (however unrealistic that might be in practice.)

It’s not all dramatic re-imagnings of greenback though. Other designs take on the familiar visual cues that we associate with the dollar, but strip them down to their bare essentials. Aram Asarian keeps it super simple with just the colour, George Washington and the Presidential seal still remaining…


Other designs, take on a slightly more bizarre feel, looking at pop cultural figures as new icons for the bill (I mean, who wouldn’t want to see a Jack Nicholson in the Shining Dollar bill?), yet probably one of worst in terms of pure design, but best in pure commentary, is the ‘$ign Of The Times’ collection, which takes a culture jamming perspective on the greenback. It is in fact, not the property of the Federal Reserve, or governed over by Timoth Geithner, but is in the hands of the Tarp recipients. The point is very unsubtly made, but does make you think.

The project overall, is an interesting experiment, that has generated a fair amount of press coverage as it’s grown, it also struck me that in time of economic or social strife, the almighty dollar becomes the symbol of either hope, or decay. These are the two sides playing out in the project itself. Is this prolonged period of economic strife and opportunity to renew, or to abandon? It reflects a wider conversation happening across dozens of industries, economies and societies. A recent post in Eye Magazine (via the project website) shows that this gravitation to currency in times of strife is nothing new. Herb Luballin, in the third issue of Avant Garde comissioned some of his friends to re-create the Dollar in a contemporary (for 1968) way. The result’s reflect the genral cynicism that pervades over a culture exeprienceing deep and profound social change. As Eye points out; the blurb accompanying these interpretations read; ”

“All in all, these dollars won’t pay the rent, but then they won’t buy an M-16 riflt, either. And in these days, that’s something.”

(Downloads from Eye Magazine’s Flickr stream.)


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