Thursday, May 24, 2012


time/bank is a platform where groups and individuals can pool and trade time and skills, bypassing money as a measure of value. Focused on the field of culture, time/bank believes everyone has something to contribute and that it is possible to develop and sustain an alternative economy by connecting existing needs with unacknowledged resources. Their hope is to create an immaterial currency and a parallel micro-economy for the cultural community, one that is not geographically bound, and that will create a sense of worth for many of the exchanges that already take place within their field—particularly those that do not produce commodities and often escape the structures that validate only certain forms of exchange as significant or profitable. The service, run by the artists Julieta Aranda and Anton Vidokle from the e-flux network, is inspired from a long history of currency systems based on mutualism and labor theories of value.

Referencing Notgeld Currency and Ithaca Hours, time/bank appears to tap into the role currency exchange can play on stabilizing and personalizing communities. One thing I challenge is the transactional nature of their payment process. It seems incongruous with the ethos of their over-all project. While the activities and efforts that are exchanged celebrate human connection and interaction, the actual exchange of currency--the physical gesture--still feels like the legacy of a commodity-driven process. "Every Time/Bank transaction will allow individuals to request, offer, and pay for services in "Hour Notes." If time/bank wants to embody structures that dismantle existing assumptions of value, how might they evolve the transactional payment process into something as meaningful and experiential as the rest of their service.