Title: Currency

Artists: Brian Patrick Franklin, Christopher Wille

Medium: Burroughs Class 3 adding machine, acrylic, brass, custom electronics


‘Currency’ is an electronic game and custom game console that plays with the idea of uncertainty in our actions and the systems we function within. A console constructed from an obsolete Burroughs adding machine monitors the exchange rate of bitcoins to US dollars and uses this data to generate a game level that prints out on a roll of receipt paper. Using the adding machine’s grid of numeric buttons, players attempt to pull two columns of abstract ASCII symbols together while being either aided or impeded by the current Bitcoin value.

Players aren’t immediately aware of the effects of their actions. It is often not perfectly clear if they have successfully drawn the columns together or have allowed the game to push the columns further apart. Much like the real-time Bitcoin financial data that is driving the game, it is only after looking at the effects of a series of actions does a positive or negative trend become apparent.

The Burroughs machine, with its intricate mechanisms, gives the player a tactile portal into the complex systems that control the movement of bitcoins around the web and across the globe. Similarly, as consumers our understanding of and relationship with currency slips between physical pieces of metal that we can hold and virtual numbers on a screen that exist only in the binary ones and zeros of a computer.

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