Last semester, I conducted a proof of concept study for the project Liquid Assets. This study explored both the process of pulping and reconstituting legal tender, and reactions of both virtual and physical audiences to the project.
I began by soaking twenty single dollar bills in a sodium carbonate solution for 48 hours, then used a pestle and mortar to grind the bills into a fine pulp. For the final presentation, I streamed the solution through a silkscreen, flattened the pulp by hand, and consumed the liquid that was strained out of the pulp.
Aesthetically, I was pleased with the physical appearance of the dried pulp. In particular, I liked the minimal traces of detail from remnants of dollar bills that were not wholly broken down. The non-uniformity of the pulp was caused in part by the primitive method by which I pulped the paper: for one thing, I used a mortar and pestle instead of a paper mill to grind out the pulp. For another, I pressed the paper by hand rather than using a paper press.
The process of pulping by hand appeals to me in regard to this project, not only because of the aesthetic of the resultant pulp, but also due to the contrast between the low-tech nature of the process and the high-tech means of propagation, as well as the intimacy of cultivating the material by hand.
Going forward, I hope to undertake this project in a gallery setting. I will either attend the space in person, or provide a receptacle which will contain the material for pulping. After soaking the material in soda ash, I will grind it by hand then lay it on the silk screen, so that by the end it forms a cohesive canvas.