The Internet artist Chris Byrne suspects that the bland design prototypes for the new European banknotes may be "more for the convenience of global corporations than for citizens". So he is offering people the chance to create more interesting versions. The templates from the official EU site are supplied as a basis, and the resulting gallery of customised notes is displayed. These incorporate war movie posters, neo-Stalinist tributes to the New World Order, McDonald's and Coca-Cola signs and a warning that "one euro does not one love make". A more optimistic design tells us to smile at our fellow Europeans ("souriez aux voisins le matin"). The collection will be shown at a French art festival later this month. Byrne hopes to print the banknotes and use them to buy drinks at the bar.
Another critique of economics can be found here, in the form of a flower- powered lecture on the dangers of the Internet investment boom. In 17th- century Holland, fortunes were made and lost speculating on exotic tulip bulbs, with lessons, the site suggests, for the current overvaluing of shares in Net-related companies. In 1637, a single bulb was sold for more than pounds 1m in today's money. Other awful precedents are traced in railway, radio and telegraph industries, all cases in which naive enthusiasm for new technology led to investors losing their shirts. A favourite cautionary tale concerns the British entrepreneur who in 1720 launched "a company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but no one to know what it is", and reaped handsome rewards before absconding. In the end, it turns out that the webmeister here is director of (you guessed it) an Internet investment fund. "This may appear paradoxical," he concedes. There are also haiku on matters financial, and the chance to buy a totally worthless share certificate.
The Future Looms
This meditation on cloth-weaving and computing also juxtaposes history and the modern digital world. A key figure seems to be Joseph-Marie Jacquard (1752-1834), who developed a system of perforated cards to control looms. The complex, multi-authored art site recently won a prize at Berlin's Transmediale 99 festival, and compares the experience of 19th-century workers in Batley, West Yorkshire, with a computer age in which "both technology and gender might be thought of differently", but often are not. Cloth-weaving is associated with story-weaving in an ambitious if sometimes hard-to-read interplay of texts and textiles. The piece incorporates the voices of Batley schoolchildren and displays some highly creative use of Shockwave.
In Japan, this "virtual postman" software is claimed already to be a best-seller, but Sony in Singapore is now test-marketing an English language release. A choice of appealing little cyberpets will not only deliver your e-mails but, it is claimed, also "learn" to write to you, reply to messages, and even fall in love or quarrel with other pets. This site introduces the available creatures and explains how users can relate to their newfound friends. So meet Mini-Rabbit Mippi, Mongrel Cat Furo, Tortoise Sumiko and Teddy Bear Momo, a dancing bear almost winsome enough to rival the Grateful Dead's version.
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