Economic Frown is a self-published text and sound recording. It consists of a 16 page printed booklet of ‘money’ poems and an accompanying sound piece spins, groans, tones (for coins, voice and synthesizer). The impetus for this work was to produce a response, a ‘return’ to be more precise, to the work Investing, by the collective Bababa International.1
My original idea was to return the money to Bababa, each and every cent of the $1,000 that they ‘invested’ in me, by drawing it all back for them at the rate of $1 per week. I sensed a kind of redundant, absurd tone to Bababa’s gesture in relation to how an artist might handle money as a material or a medium, and I wanted to build upon that by providing a suitably defunct ‘return’ to extend our ‘exchange’. But this drawing idea was idiotic. It was going to take me approximately 20 years to draw all the money back, and my wrist was beginning to crumble after just a few months of drawing, so I shifted my attention to a less torturous means of producing a ‘return’.
In abandoning the endurance based drawing approach, my focus shifted towards a response that dealt with a perceived absurdity in the fact that currencies and markets are often analysed using analogies of the natural world such as being ‘rocky’ or ‘foggy’, or described in terms of behavioural traits that might be seen as human such as being ‘weak’, or remaining ‘strong’. Considering this, I then decided to explore the human characteristics of money, or money as a kind of untamed natural force, whereby anthropomorphised coins might reflect a sense of fatigued existence within such a hectic market as that of the commercial art world; depressed coins, paranoid coins, coins with existential problems and so on.
The accompanying sound piece2 echoes the fatigue caused by such problems; synthesizer and feedback drones mimic calculators dying, slowed spinning coin samples roll out an uncertainty as to whether the coins are sluggishly spinning up into action, or exhaustedly performing their last spin….their death rattle. Grotesque, processed vocal grumbles and groans echo these spins, giving the coins a voice which, not through language, but through non-linguistic expressive grunts instead, signals a collective economic frown through sound.
1. For details on the Investing project by Bababa see: http://bababainternational.com/projects/investing/
2. You can listen to an excerpt of spins, groans, tones (for coins, voice and synthesizer) at: https://soundcloud.com/mphopkins/spinsgroanstones-for-coins-voice-and-synthesizer-excerpt
Matthew Hopkins (b. 1978) is a Sydney based artist whose work examines the relationship between various visual forms and sound. Hopkins's practice involves various sound...