Usually business cards are designed to be both easily handed out and attractive. Not surprisingly, there are several interesting designs around nowadays which have distinctive features.
Recently I have been looking at possible designs for the Studio Inesistente’s business card, that would represent its contradictory nature of nonexistence.
First of all I had to meet two needs of a practical nature:
- the possibility of easily keeping several business cards in my wallet;
- to persuade people not to discard them carelessly.
Secondly I wanted to find something that could be a business card, without becoming one, and vice versa. Moreover, it was essential to ensure that this business card was almost not recognised as such by people.
So, after discarding some designs, I decided to use a 5 euro note upon which I would stamp a QR code. But why did I choose money?
With the introduction of paper money, which occurred over the last two centuries, money has taken on an extremely semiotic connotation. Modern society has relied on legal tender, void of any considerable intrinsic value and, moreover, with the spread of electronic money has wiped out the physicality of the medium, shifting the focus to numeric codes. In this way, we recognise its face value which is totally divorced from a real equivalent. It is clear that in reality it matches its purchasing power, what we know we can buy. And this is precisely the point in question: for us money is a means to get something, but it is not something in itself.
To turn a banknote into a business card therefore is to give money a fixed physical reality, out of line with the continuous fluctuation of its possible uses. In other words, it means to remove its legal value and to restore its existence to simply paper. However one wonders whether we are able to passively accept this and, therefore, to identify money as something else.
I know to write on notes is not illegal but, once marked, these would be replaced at the national central banks. Anyway, the European Central Bank set certain limits and some notes may be considered non-refundable. In spite of all this, especially in Italy, money often circulates in poor condition. This is because, after all, money is money and can hardly be regarded as void; imagine then, for it to be regarded as something else like in this case.
To more accentuate this conflict I carefully sized and placed, on the note, the stamp of the Studio Inesistente without covering the glossy stripe, the watermark, the hologram or the security thread. Later, I also tested its validity, by inserting it into an ATM. The result was that this “enhanced” bill was able to continue to circulate like the other altered ones.
It’s important to emphasize that my intent is not to stamp several banknotes to put them in circulation with the goal of advertising. Rather, my intention is to give out a business card which one would hold onto; to encourage people to no longer see it as money. Will it happen? I hope so but I’m not confident that it will.