Friday, October 1, 2010

more bang for your buck

A recent post on Interpretation By Design talks about a contest recently held (it closed yesterday) to redesign American paper money. The contest itself was run by designers, not by the US Government, so the winner is not actually going to end up on currency.

Both IBD and the Dollar ReDe$ing Project tackle an interesting problem, faced by interpreters all the time - how to make something complex, with multiple layers into something easily understood by all (although comments on the contest's page are slightly less than enthusiastic). What I think it's about is asking Americans who they think they are? Currency is intensely important for this, when the Romans conquered a new land one of the first things they did was mint new coins, in local denominations but with the Emperor's face on it. This is an amazing piece of propaganda, most of us handle currency everyday in a very matter of fact manner. Once we're comfortable and familiar with our notes and coins we become comfortable and familiar with their images. And all of a sudden half of our grain is going to Rome as tax and we don't think that's so strange. This was one of my big beefs with the Euro - taking away countries' sense of identities and cultural, historical and ethnic differences. Bad thing. The again, many would say the same thing about the EU in general, and its endless regulations, particularly cheese producers.

I can't see how changing the pictures can help the economy, as claimed by the organisers, but it's an interesting exercise how a nation sees its-self, well at least how a nation's designers see themselves. This is one of my favourites. Brings a whole new meaning to 'I Love Lucy'.

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