Principally, this is artwork, in devotion of a living icon, and the unique austerity of American banknote design. ‘The Union of American Republics’ is the artist’s fictional jurisdiction; a parallel to the USA, and a sounding board for American aspiration. The name comes from a discussion board from 2000, on which a time traveller known as John Titor relayed a future vision of America, from his year, 2032. As we merge with the future, The Union becomes, more and more, a singularity of intent.
Kanye West, Avatar of our time, who transcends music, politics and iconography, finds himself on a unique banknote design, given digital scarcity on the Ethereum blockchain.
The focal point is the hand-drawn portrait of West. The style is typical of banknote engraving, which uses dots, dashes and lines to create light and shade. This style is suited to the printing process of intaglio, which US currency heavily relies upon.
US Banknote collectors will easily recognise the border design, lifted from exiting US currency – the reverse of a Gold Certificate note. In this case, the ‘currency’ is a the USD Stablecoin, DAI. Like The Union, Tom Badley uses the DAI Stablecoin as a blank slate, to investigate uniquely North American designs. Previous work that references the DAI Stablecoin includes the ‘Historical Series’, which references US historical figures.
As standard in US paper money, the design is almost monochrome, with the serials and other insignia in red – to the left of the portrait, Badley’s company insignia, and to the right, the DAI logo.
The work you’re viewing is a digital representation. The work will take on an exciting dimension, as a limited number of uncut sheets will be produced.
This is not simply a case of pressing a button a printer! These sheets will be produced with similar processes used in actual banknote production. This is a highly technical process, in which the digital design must be totally reworked and adapted. It will represent an unprecendented artwork, that dances the tightrope of inocuous printmaking, and direct counterfeiting.
Such is the theme investigated by Tom Badley’s work – our authenticity, reflected in money. If art mimics money so closely, does it transcend art? At what point does printed material become currency? These themes are echoed in our age of deep fakes, celebrity, and the search of authenticity on and offline. Kayne West seems to be the perfect subject.
THE DAI HISTORICAL SERIES
Currently a body of design work, sold as Non-Fungible Tokens, these elaborate designs are Badley’s investigation of the Dollar’s unassailable brand, combined with the blank slate of the StableCoin – a crypto asset with a 1-1 relationship with the Dollar…
Whilst this series is denominated in DAI, it isn’t intended to be an extension of DAI’s existing brand. It acknowledges DAI in the design’s text, and with DAI’s logo in red, but that is the extent of the DAI brand on this design. Instead, the series is 1) a design and brand challenge, to give an existing Stablecoin a new and distinct persona, and 2) an inquiry into the mythology of DAI’s 1-1 basis: the United Sates Dollar. This series will feature prominent figures from history, all of whom were integral to the Unites States Dollar’s brand – it’s logo, and psychological meaning. This is a perfect way of marrying the mostly faceless brand of stablecoin cryptocurrency, with the rich power of the world’s reserve. It is a celebration of the innovation of a stable crypto dollar, as the ultimate iteration of the the Dollar’s global function.