detail of gold / inflation piece

In a relatively short span, the United States went from an economy based on commodity currency (gold) to one based on representative currency (US dollars which stood for gold in the Federal Reserve) to one based on fiat currency (US dollars which stand for US dollars because we all say so).

Using nylon cord, I built two parallel graphs — the quantity of gold in the Federal Reserve and the inflation of the dollar — each with respect to time. These graphs share a common X-axis but their Y-axes speak completely different languages.

I used bright pink cord to connect the disparate data points from each year, creating an undulating topography from the extruded graphs. I built the whole thing upside-down so that gravity’s pull would lend a surreal buoyancy to the shapes in the landscape.

Finally, I wandered through the datascape with my camera like a traveler in a new city or natural wonder. I wanted to capture as many moments, angles, shapes, and textures as possible, to turn tidy data squeezed from the murky, contradictory, real world back into something real, mysterious, and still contradictory.


A clearer view of the two graphs, accompanied by a few significant historical events.

A peek behind the curtain:


In all, this required tying more than a thousand knots. The cramping and rope burn were vicious.


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