The Circolo Bateson, founded in Rome in 1990 as a laboratory for the study of Gregory Bateson’s work, is a seminarian meeting place regarding the epistemology of living systems.
Quotations taken from: Gregory Bateson, A Sacred Unity: Further Steps to an Ecology of Mind (ASU), HarperCollinsPublishers, New York 1991. Images taken from the catalogue of Paolo Monti’s work. Captions, selection and elaboration were edited by R. Conserva, A. D’Attilia, P. Monti, P. Musarra, A.M. Petrone, L. Rossi.

Paolo Monti
Between art and science

The artist Paolo Monti has been taking part in the Seminars organised by the Circolo Bateson, for over a decade, with a number of his works on the “un-usability” of banknotes.
His procedures involve the concrete and material
de-structuration of banknotes and their symbolic value.

Genetically Modified Money, Paolo Monti
Paolo Monti, Mini Dollar
Shrinkage by drying out:
so operate the "head reducers" ...

Minidollar, 2007
A banknote subjected to an hygroscopic process, activator of carbonation phenomena,
modifies its dimension but not its structure.
Materials: banknote, chemical reagents, hydro repellent treatment with liquid glass.

Through the projection of a fragment of banknote, immersed in a chemical solution, the dissolution process of the projected image is made visible. Chemical reagents activated by the heat of the projector, slowly corroding the paper matter of banknote, determines its disappearance.

“Somewhere (…) is a region where you are partly blown by the winds of reality and partly an artist creating a composite out of the inner and outer events.”

ASU p. 223

George Washington’s face dissolves revealing continents

Dollar Image, 1989
A projected image progressively changes until its complete disappearance.
Materials: banknote, plexi-glass, chemical reagents, slide projector, proximity sensor.

… In biology there are no values which have the characteristic that if something is good, then more of that something will be better

Money is shown to be certainly unbiological and perhaps antibiological …”

ASU p. 297

Real money?
Yes. Provisionally ... a parallelepiped

Cash, 1991
Current banknotes, before resuming customary circulation, determine the
dimension of a parallelepiped they configure.
Materials: banknotes in legal circulation.

“… In the world of patterns and ideas irony is everywhere; and by irony you may (perhaps) reach that small enlightenment which is a moment of seeing the larger gestalt.”

ASU p. 298

Cutting strips from the edge of banknotes ...

Subtraction, 1988/2001
The serial numbers on a banknote in circulation identify the strip subtracted from it.
Materials: banknote, blade, serial number, photo, plexiglass.


 “… It is possible that the aesthetic approach may provide short cuts to the evaluation and criticism of plans for action.”

ASU p. 257

No more arrows in the eagle's claws, only olive branches

G.M.D. Genetically Modified Dollar, 2005©
On a one dollar banknote, the thirteen arrows are subtracted and exchanged with the specular-reflective duplication of the existing thirteen olive leaves, effectively re-establishing bilateral symmetry.
Materials: dollar bill banknote, razor blade, pigment.

Banknotes are located at eye level in a setting delimited by sensory micro cameras linked to external monitors. A red luminous inscription reads: TAKE A SNIFF, IT SMELLS GOOD!  Pausing in front of the banknotes a second inscription flashes: IF YOU REMAIN STANDING IN FRONT OF THE BANKNOTES FOR MORE THAN TWO MINUTES, YOU MAY CHANGE THEM.  A sound with monotone frequency begins to scan the time of the pause. Beyond two minutes, the observer averts first a smell of incense and immediately after the odour of combustion, while along the diagonals of the banknotes glows an incandescent X  that cuts through the paper money. In real time the two monitors mutually display the face of the observer in the act of altering the banknotes and the banknotes during combustion.

Banknotes burst into flames under the gaze of the observer

Take a sniff, it smells good!, 2000
Materials: banknotes, incense, steel, thermal dissipaters, sensors, micro cameras, monitors.

TazebAu an itinerant project in search of traces left by contexts traversed, absorbed as in a
"litmus test" through a dendritic panoptic observation of the world ...

A denuded dollar travelling from Venice to Beijing collecting signatures and moods at every stopping-point

TazebAu Venezia-Pechino, 2005

“… The whole of possessiveness would come out very differently if we viewed our possessiveness not numerically in terms of pounds or dollars but relationally.”

ASU p. 311

TazebAu S'Pace, 2006

With Paolo Nespoli in outer-space,
23 October 2007 –Esperia Harmony STS 120

Materials: denuded dollar banknote, various inks, signatures e DNA. Dimension: trans-spatial.


Third International Conference on Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity / Venice 2012
Venice 2012

Circolo Bateson & Paolo Monti
present the poster

Genetically Modified Money

link to video - Story of a poster - Money 2012

paolo monti
arte + scienza
“Genetically Modified Money” © Paolo Monti 2012 / Circolo Bateson