Coin Crossing: Guerrilla Art Project
It’s all too easy to get stuck in a routine, walking through the city on autopilot without even noticing what’s around you. Guerrilla art, on my mind, seeks to shake things up, force you to take a second look, change your preconceptions about your everyday surroundings.
Most of my projects have been in urban areas (due to the high foot traffic, the diversity of materials you can alter/replicate/physically reconstruct, and the fact that people are often preoccupied with their lives.
However, this “piece” is not in an urban setting. It’s in the woods but on a fairly busy hiking and bike path.
Originally I wanted to experiment with different people’s reactions to finding money unexpectedly and this bridge seemed like a good place to examine this question.
However, it quickly became clear that even when people did take the time to stop and look around and actually saw the money — the allure of finding typical pocket change wasn’t enough to interest people. So after trying pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, I tried using half dollars, silver dollars, and even gold dollars, but this only caused about 20% of the people to stop and examine and or pick up the money.
I reluctantly turned to “paper money” and tried $1, $2, 5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 Bills.not surprisingly this increased the rate of engagement but there was little difference between a $1 and a $100 dollar bill.
My takeaway was most people are conditioned to see coins as being not worth their effort, and dollar bills were more visible (not a surprising conclusion).
But my original Hope was that people could notice subtle difference in coins, so I decided to collect coins from around 75 coins tries-many still in circulation today but also some that were old enough they were no longer in circulation.
Initially I thought it would be as simple as scattering the coins on the bridge, but this presented two problems: the people who ignored the coins usually scattered them and knocked them off the bridge or to the aide of the bridge and upon testing it myself, it was clear it could be slippery/potentially dangerous.
That’s when I got the idea to forget the random social experiment I was conducting and actually create something semi-permanent.
In my travels for urban exploration, I’ve seen some very cool informal art exhibits in abandoned buildings. But since only a select few people are willing to sneak into abandoned psychiatric hospitals under the cover of darkness, only urban explorers can see them (which makes them kind of cool in their own way) but my aim was to create something that any person in this public space might see.
So late one night, I hiked to the bridge, and using a homemade mixture of two industrial solvents, I was able to semi permanently attach the various coins.
I even added a small plaque on both sides of the bridge, further encouraging inspection:
A few weeks later I came back on a nice day and approached a few people who I saw studying it. One thought it was part of community project she donates to. Another thought it was a commentary on fiat and currency manipulation.
Regardless, I was happy to know that people took the time and stop to think. This was more effective than leaving any combination of cash in plain sight (including $100 bill).
Thanks for reading this article! Leave a comment or message me if you have any questions.
If you liked this article, here are some other articles you may enjoy: