In online relational communities, personal preferences and snippets of opinion are selected by users to collage an identity. These highly subjective collections of personal information and affinities to public brands can be accumulated and traded as a ‘social currency’.
Eight wooden tiles, printed with unique messages, were randomly selected and given to each of the 36 artists at the themed residency ‘The Future of Idea Art’ at the Banff Centre for the Arts, in the Fall of 2006.
References to all the floating information (artists names, discussion topics, phrases in currency) within this unique social space were catalogued, printed on 2×2 wooden tiles and fed back into the community that had created the content.
No instructions were given on how to utilize or interact with the tiles. But, various behaviors emerged.
Some people pocketed the tiles as souvenirs, and others exchanged them. Heated late-night trading sessions occurred. During these trades, ‘real world’ items, like money and other art objects, were offered in exchange for desirable tiles.
Some staff at Banff who were not included in the ‘tile economy’ successfully traded their way into this closed system by offering the residents materials and services.