Occupy George, talking dollars

Occupy George

Printing on (real) one dollar bills (the ones with George Washington) enjoyable and graphically concrete data concerning the distribution of wealth in the United States: this is the premise of Occupy George, a performance created in the wake of the many growing participatory movements born out of the original “Occupy Wall Street.” The notes, constituting medium and message with an incisiveness that would have amazed even McLuhan, can be edited with any home printer or a DIY stamp, using the clear guidelines on the site. The dollar bill, one of the universal emblems of capitalism, is a highly symbolic medium for representing the data in the charts, which includes, for example, the ratio between the average wages of ordinary U.S. workers and those of CEOs. The pattern of the overprinted data is made with painstaking skill, perfectly complementing the graphical grid of the notes and elegantly altering the portrait of George Washington, who in his new frame seems restless and dissuasive. Choosing notes also ensures a huge and unpredictable distribution channel (almost impossible to achieve using other media) and an effective, familiar method for conveying messages. It will be extremely hard to bring Occupy Wall Street to the 99% of the population that touches a small part of the wealth produced by the United States, but in this viral mode, a member of that 99%, finding in their hands a dollar “occupied” by this ironic, disruptive action, can more easily intercept the historic significance of the current events.

Chiara Ciociola