Sunday, November 30, 2008

Work in Progress: Money Earth

11/11/2008 11:11 pm
I begin a new project.
Continuing with my explorations of mosaics from chopped coins, I choose a metaphor inspired by the global financial crisis and the subsequent banking bailouts.
I decide to create the whole planet from sliced pocket change.
First I sketch out the continents, freehand.
Next I make lines to denote the equator, the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, and also the arctic circles. Arrows establish a flow for the tiny pieces, tracing the actual ocean currents.
Beginning with a line at the equator, I lay out these currents first then spiral inwards and outwards simultaneously.
Tiny, fingernail-clipping shaped crescents are laid meticulously end to end.
Thousands will be necessary to cover the entire field.
Obsessed with completion, I work on nothing else for 2 weeks.
Each piece has to be placed using tweezers, and special care is necessary at all times to avoid disturbing the other pieces, which will not be glued down until the entire image has been laid out.
For the continents, a more linear approach seems appropriate.Pieces of cut dimes, nickels, and quarters add contrast with silver.
Meticulous effort goes into keeping the gaps between pieces small.
The distribution of coins varies by geographic location.
Continents like Africa have a slightly lower number of silver coins.
Australia is more or less balanced, 50/50.In addition to simply depicting things metaphorically, I wanted to add an additional element to describe the current financial emergency.
Therefore, like a surgical suture, a gash runs horizontally across the entire planet, stretching from Wall Street to the Bank of England.

America, nearly silver save for some spots, looks like a cadaver after an autopsy.
The arctics are assembled from nickel slivers, chopped into tiny triangles.
Hundreds of hours later, the layout was complete. Like a Navajo sand painting, gravity alone was the glue. In one sweep of ANYTHING, the entire image could vanish. A great power lies in this potential danger, like standing at the edge of a cliff.
Somehow I managed to keep the cats away and my elbows off the table for the entire time. A week and a half in, I began to hallucinate swimming pieces of coins, yet I pressed on, aware that if I stopped for a day I'd risk losing the momentum to finish. One accidental tossing of my keys or hat onto the surface would have killed me. Two weeks to the hour from the start, neck sore, eyes strained, and wrist stiff, I prepared for the next stage.

Here, hundreds of hours depended on 15 crucial minutes. Once I began to lay the adhesive, there would be no undoing. I began by carefully taping the front surface, after which the entire image was flipped over.
Silver silicone went down first, behind the continents only, followed dark brown silicone behind the oceans.
Four tubes were necessary to cover the entire surface.

After letting it cure, I peeled off the tape....


Anonymous said...

awesome. really enjoyed seeing the process unfold. thanks

chikara/tokudaka said...

Yeah, I like it very much!