SHORT RUN
BANKNOTE CREATION

What started as a straightforward design challenge inspired by memes and controversy surrounding the Trump presidency, grew into an unprecedented and uncategorizable series of artworks.

At their root, this series proposes something new: as far as it can be known, there has not been a family of banknotes created outside of the banknote industry, single-handedly, with the same level of design knowledge as applied to circulating national currency.

Hobbyist attempts at banknote creation abound. On the other hand, counterfeiting national currency purposely avoids replicating more advanced technologies of banknote creation in order to remain cost-effective.

The resulting artworks become absurd in their sincerity.

Are they functional currency? Are they avatars for banknotes? Are they monuments to our world’s unique duality? Are they precursors to crypto paper wallets? Are they art, or design? Or are they all of the above?

With refined and specialized design know-how, these artworks become sincere. But if they’re so close to national currency, they would threaten it: craft becomes dangerous. How appropriate, that these ‘banknotes’ celebrate fiat money’s major threat: cryptocurrency.

‘The Avatars of the Great Awakening’ represents an expanding group of individuals who have made major recent cultural impacts in the field of freedom, sovereignty, self-rule and truth. Invariably, these individuals reveal the hierachies in our narrow cultures, and for that, they find themselves at odds with culture: in hiding, imprisoned, and in conflict with self-declared authorities.

Julian Assange (Wikileaks), Edward Snowden (NSA), Ross Ulbricht (Silk Road) are all characters in the recent story of Humanity’s search for self-determination. Anonymous, who have appropriated the Guy Fawkes mask, represents the element of Humanity that is chaotic, anarchic, rebelious, disruptive and uncontrollable – the spark that lights Human creativity. To borrow a term that is usually applied to art, these figures are the avant garde.

Ironically, The most controversial character in this series is Jack Dorsey – CEO and co-founder of Twitter – who appears to bear no personal cost for his work. Unlike the other figures, he is handsomely rewarded for it. Dorsey was chosen because the Twitter platform has been – whether he intended or not – the major site of dissemination of the other figures’ revelations. Not least, Twitter is the place where these designs were first publically revealed!

Just as the avant garde of culture (what is often called ‘alternative’) has appropriated social media to find a voice, here, Jack is also appropriated by the very word applied to his opposition: he is a Deplorable!

Uniting the figures is the fact that all have publically endorsed cryptocurrency. It is absolutely correct that they ought to be honured in the first ‘legitimate all-original NFT banknote design set’.

Anyone familiar with world paper money will quickly notice that the design is very close to the circulating Venezuelan currency.

Whilst the word ‘Deporables’ lends itself well to a latin accent, the Venezuelan Bolivar was chosen as symbolic of a choatic place in a state of disintegration, where narratives short-circuit and secrets are revealed. Venezuela has become a picture of 21st century fiat miss-management and societal descent.

República de los Deplorables is an alternate universe that epitomizes our own cultural atrophe, rapidly escalating financial dislocation, and broken media narratives.

The use of the Venezuelan Bolivar is also a reference to its popularity with banknote hobbyists and counterfeiters, who find that the Bolivar, when carefully washed of its inks, is similar enough in feel and dimensions to US Dollars.

The design also features frog imagery. The frog is symbolic of ambiguity and the chaos of the underworld, as it can live in both water and on land, and is the guardian of worlds unseen.

Until now, these designs have been promoted on social media and created as NFTs – Non-Fungible Tokens, with a set digital scarcity. In the case of all but the first to be issued – the 0.5 ETH – these NFTs are not only digitally scarce, but each edition is uniquely serial numbered. This adds an interesting level of rarity to the digital tokenization of art: regardless of edition number, each design in truly, visually unique.

Now these designs move into the next stage: paper production. The aim is to create works that have a new level of production quality, allowing collectors to enjoy these unique works in physical form.

The production will be, wherever possible, handmade. The portraits will be re-engaved, the backgrounds will be be altered to ensure that the digital designs aren’t used to make physical copies, and of course, each note will have unique back designs.

Creating physical versions of these designs is a technically intricate process. Due to the complexity of production, the release of the series is staggered, just like the introduction of fiat currencies. Production will start with the 0.5 ETH note, with the others released over the rest of 2019 and 2020.

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