Last week, i went to RCA's research biennial. It was called Disruption, lasted a few days only and you shouldn't be too sad if you missed it. Many of the works lacked any kind of description or explanation so i wasn't really able to assess their quality. That said, a few pieces made it worth the trip to the College. First of all, the gigantic banner 'The Market Will Save Us' by Bill Balaskas hanging on the facade of RCA's Kensington building. The work is a comment on the impact of funding cuts on the cultural sector and the subsequent dependency on corporate sponsorship. Curbing artistic expression, and having to think about 'what you do and what you say' is effectively a form censorship, Balaskas explained.
The other work that saved the show for me was Austin Houldsworth's Crime Pays. The work explores one of your bank's most cherished dream: an entirely cashless society. Phone and card transactions might be on the rise right now but paper and coins will be difficult to replace. People are afraid of safety, fraud, breaches in privacy (electronic payments track and detail all our transactions and therefore define an outline of who we are as individuals. Even readers of the Daily Fail know that.) But the reason why governments would also like to see the end of cash is that it is the currency of the black economy which is estimated to have a total worldwide value of 1.82 trillion dollars. In Italy, for example, the black economy is thought to be 27pc of GDP. Although it is much lower in the UK, the government spends 20 to 40 billion per year combating organised crime and the black market in the UK is estimated to total 60 billion.
Austin managed to convince one of the organisers of a conference at the British Computer Society to present the fictional monetary system as if it were a real scheme. Dave Birch, director of Consult Hyperion played the part of Dr. Don Rogers.
The Crime Pays system is a completely electronic payment system, in which all financial transactions are open. Only paying for the privilege of privacy will ensure a transaction is hidden from public view. Which means that anyone has the opportunity to chose whether they want to make a transaction anonymously or openly. By default your spending will be open and all transactions will be tracked by your bank as they are now. If you'd rather keep the spending secret, then a small fee will be levied and it will go to the government, but you can decide to which budget (health, education, etc.) the money will be assigned to. Even if the tax is has high as 20% of the transaction, the amount will still be fairly low considering the costs already incurred by the government and taxpayer.
Is privacy within our finances a matter of personal liberty or simply the harbourer of criminality?
Hi Austin! Have you thought about what criminals would try and do to avoid paying for privacy?
Did someone tell the audience at the end of Dr. Don Rogers presentation that it was all a fake? Did they think that the scenario was plausible?
Also i was wondering who would control the scheme? Mostly the banks or the government?