[The Echo of Nothing]
“Money is any object or record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given socio-economic context.”
Money is no more than a social construction that has its value on the collective agreement to accept certain forms of measurement. Nevertheless, money is an immanent concept in our daily life. Under the capitalist system that leads the world in the current times, we can’t deny that money rules [almost] everything: the way we live, what we eat, where we go and how we relate with other... As coined by James Carville in 1992, “the economy, stupid.” Thus, if MONEY is only a virtual object and its value depends on the object to exchange, how can we work in a new understanding of the concepts of value, trade and exchange from a different point of view?
MONEY has been one of the main issues [if not the most important] to define the creation of territories and space. Borders created for economical purposes and financial markets in many ways are guiding how cities evolve. The relationship between countries basically depends on debt: creditor/debtor relation; where debt is not an impediment to growth. According to Maurizio Lazzarato, it represents the economic and subjective engine of the modern-day economy. Even this fact, during the past years we are starting to perceive capitalism as a failed system and probably as not the only option anymore. One of the signs of this failed system can be found on the sovereign debt crises that have placed several Eurozone nations under a situation determined by the European Union’s so-called troika—European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund [IMF]— and not determined by their citizens and inhabitants. For Baudrillard, money is no longer a medium or a means to circulate commodities, it is circulation itself, that is to say, it is the realized form of the system in its twisting abstraction.
But this concept is changing at a rapid rate. Just a year ago, the Occupy movement used bills as a tool for social protest. The Occupy George movement pointed “Money talks, but not loud enough for the 99%. By circulating dollar bills stamped with fact-based infographics, Occupy George informs the public of America's daunting economic disparity one bill at a time.” As Emily Gilbert points, “currency is not just a neutral economic tool, as the economists would have it, but it embodies cultural, political, and economic values.” Experimental currencies as bitcoin [described as decentralized digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world] is expected to be the next bubble, but at least it opens new ways of thinking about different economic models. In the middle of these experimental processes, there are new tools that more people is using every day, new forms of economics and trade, such as crowdfunding, social money and micropayments, based on the confidence and support of the network. these tools are here to stay and can be harnessed as catalysts for change. The way we interact as citizens in this new economic scenario is transforming how we use public space, digital tools and create new physical and virtual territories.
How can this flow affect the practice of architecture, and what kind of proposal can come from architecture within this exchange of ideas dealing with the #futureofmoney.
What if our cities were able to evolve without money? How economic flows reflect in the configuration of cities? How it would look like a “right of the city” initiative in a tax haven state? Can we design new territories that operate outside the traditional economic guidelines? Which is the role of the architect within this scenario [if there’s one]?
We’re looking for pioneering works at the intersection of architecture, sociology, economics, programming and marketing that radically challenge the fundamental spatial, social and urban relation based on capitalism.
More info: Think Space
*Header pic: still from L'Argent. French film directed by Robert Bresson