Daniel G. Andújar
EL CAPITAL. LA MERCANCÍA. GUILLOCHÉ.
El guilloché (o guilloche) es una técnica decorativa en la cual un patrón de diseño repetitivo y complejo es grabado mecánicamente en un material con gran precisión y detalle. Comprende, en concreto, una serie de técnicas de torneado mecánico llamadas guilloché en francés, en referencia al ingeniero francés Guillot, quien inventó una máquina “que podía grabar patrones y diseños precisos en superficies metálicas”. Se aplica tanto en numismática como en billetes de banco.
En este nuevo trabajo de Daniel G. Andújar, que forma parte de su último ciclo de obras, titulado El capital. La mercancía, ya no hay apropiación de materiales gráficos preexistentes, pero sí de las técnicas utilizadas por las grandes empresas internacionales que desarrollan, producen y distribuyen productos y soluciones para el pago, la comunicación segura y la administración de identidades. Estas empresas surgieron hace más de ciento cincuenta años a partir de distintos gremios de artistas y artesanos.
Este proyecto utiliza el soporte de un “posible” billete como espacio apropiado para el dibujo (del retrato hasta el paisaje) y la acción. Según señala el propio artista: “Los primeros patrones que realicé tienen un gran parecido con los diseños producidos con el espirógrafo, aquel juguete para niños. El espirógrafo produce curvas matemáticas conocidas como hipotrocoides y epitrocoides. Sin embargo, a fin de preservar su seguridad, es decir, a fin de complicar su falsificación tal y como pasa con los billetes de banco, el proceso se va embrollando con sofisticados guillochés que utilizan complejas ecuaciones hipotrocoides y programas informáticos de cálculo gráfico que interpretan las ecuaciones. Los elementos se van también radicalizando a medida que las técnicas se suceden y solapan. La esteganografía, la suma de verificación, los efectos ópticamente variables, los táctiles, los interactivos y los ocultos, como la marca de agua digital, el hilo de seguridad, la impresión calcográfica, la microimpresión, la Constelación de EURión, los hologramas o las tintas de aspecto variable… Finalmente, los guillochés se tornan orgánicos, las matemáticas llaman al orden social, el hacker habla del cuerpo, lo mecánico es código, la seguridad cuestiona la realidad”.
Daniel G. Andújar
EL CAPITAL. LA MERCANCÍA. GUILLOCHÉ.
Learning to make money (or on how artists make money)
The most widely known and used paper money is the banknote, generally issued by a central bank or a public authority as fiat money. In times past, it was redeemable, for an unlimited time period, for metallic money backed in a precious metal. Currently it just circulates as legal tender and you couldn’t have it redeemed for gold or silver. It is, literally, a piece of inert paper that is part of the capital flow structure that we can bear in hand and manipulate as pleased; a printed paper, containing various designs, marks and signatures, whose goal is to help guaranteeing its authenticity. Each banknote is, technically speaking, a loan that the individual holds against the State, therefore only the State should issue them. But this, like all things in economics, that inexact science, it’s nothing but theory, almost a chimera. The truth is that for the most part the production process, design and printing is, as many other things, in the hands of a few global companies, as the English De La Rue (that prints paper money for more than 150 countries), the German Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) or the American American Bank Note Company.
The technical requirements a banknote must comply security-wise are the main obsession of issuing entities, producing companies and States alike. The main goal behind “secure” printing is to avoid counterfeiting, modification or manipulation, or that modifying the attributes don’t go unnoticed. Money forging constitutes an offence and, although the laws aren’t the same in all the countries, the reproduction -even for artistic or advertising purposes- is totally prohibited in some of them. Furthermore, in countries in which a limited use of banknotes images is allowed, there are norms and specific regulations in place... Current banknotes are made with a special paper made of long-fiber cotton and employing extremely complex printing techniques. The technical features of present-day valid banknotes incorporate state-of-the-art security elements (watermark, chalcography, security thread, holographic stripes or patches, see-through features, glossy stripe, OVI inks, invisible fluorescent fibres, complex mathematical graphics, guillochés…).
The most ancient preserved banknote, a year-1,375 Ming’s Dinasty one yuan, refers in its text to punishments that would be inflicted on its counterfeiters, forging golden and silver coins and silver wasn’t profitable at all as the metal itself was the essence of the value as opposed to the notes that were nothing but mere paper resulting therefore in enticing objects for fraud. It is easy to find among History’s greatest counterfeiters genius artisans, gangsters of the worst sort, prominent personalities with access to the highest realms of power and great artists. A banknote is nothing more than a formal representation system and to a certain extent, a public space for experimenting on the public space.
In the Europe “of the consensus” a maximum neutrality and aseptic equanimity was sought. “In order to obtain a set of banknotes and coins which, as well as representing the essence of the European Union (EU), would be capable of generating a sense of identity in more than three hundred million citizens with very different histories, realities and expectations”. There are not human figures, and the architectural examples printed on do not represent actual monuments. The current euro banknotes are an exercise of empty and abstract universality: “There are different denominations of the euro banknotes, each having a distinctive colour and size. The designs for each of them have a common theme of European architecture in various artistic eras. The obverse of the banknote features windows or gateways while the reverse bears bridges. The windows and gateways on the front side symbolise the European spirit of openness and cooperation. The bridges symbolise communication between the people of Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world” [sic]. Gateways and windows, outright literality. The five euros note approaches the Classical era, before the fifth century, the ten euros one the Romanesque and so on until the Modern era, that has a value of five-hundred euros and is the most sought-after albeit the less popular one.
Although the security measures are increasingly more sophisticated, the truth is that the technical expertise for its mechanical reproduction is increasingly more available to any artist. Who hasn’t experienced the EURion constellation? that small-circles pattern that can be found in the most recent banknotes designs, and that make our computer alarms go off when scanning or printing is attempted; for artistic purposes obviously. This and other counterfeiting-discouraging measures (Counterfeit Deterrence System, CDS), aimed at preventing using personal computers, equipment and digital images editing programmes for forging banknotes, no matter how solid they seem, are vulnerable to the artist’s eyes. The software and IT equipment manufacturers have willingly implemented these CDS to prevent personal computers, photocopiers and digital images editing programmes processing and reproducing the images on protected banknotes however technology doesn’t have the capacity to identify all of the users of one computer or digital images editing programme. Actually, we cannot just copy them, we can even make fresh banknotes, we know the techniques, we have the tools. The guilloché*, the very foundation of any banknote, it’s nothing more than an engraving artistic technique in which a repetitive complex pattern is followed. Almost mathematically nowadays, but we know where it comes from (Classical Greece and Rome, Medieval and neoclassical architecture…) and where it can be taken to.
Generally, apart from counterfeiting, the alteration or marking of banknotes is punishable by law. It’s clear that lawmakers have neither notions in art nor they know Cildo Mereles. Artist are interested in banknotes, their study from within formal capitalistic structures, their objective inert presence, their empty abstract universality, its substanceless subjectivity, Own it, simulate it, manipulate it, transgress it, parody it, usurp it… even paper money is on its way to extinction as part of the digitalisation process of the formal aspects of our society, the dematerialisation. Banknotes allow the general population a better grasp on their expenses, they are within everyone’s reach and allow to make payments to those who don’t have bank accounts, are unable or just don’t want to use electronic payment methods. Banknotes attempt to be more than a simple payment method, and even hint at outdated national and cultural identity notions. A banknote is not a trusty depiction of a country’s entire culture, but could well be.
In this new work, part of “The Capital” cycle. The commodity, there is no appropriation of existing graphic material but the techniques used by large international companies producing and distributing payment solutions, secure communication and identity management. These companies started out one hundred and fifty years ago stemming from different artists and artisans guilds. Not in vain, G&D, for instance, was known as Typographisches Kunst-Institut Giesecke & Devrient (Typographic Artistic Institute Giesecke & Devrient).
My project utilises the support of a “possible” banknote as the suitable space for drawing: from portraits to the landscapes. The first patterns I made had a great resemblance to designs produced with the spirograph, that children toy. The spirograph yields mathematical curves known as hypotrochoids and epitrochoids. Nonetheless, for the sake of retaining its security, that is, for the sake of making its counterfeiting difficult as with banknotes, the process muddles in sophisticated guillochés that use complicated hypotrochoid equations and graphic calculus computer programmes that interpret the equations. The elements become more drastic as the techniques give way to one another and overlap each other. The steganography, the addition of verification, the variable optical effects, the tactile ones, the interactive ones and the occult ones, as the digital watermark, the security thread, the chalcographic printing, the microprinting, the EURron constellation, the hologrammes or the optically variable inks… Finally, the guillochés become organic, mathematics call to social order, the hacker talks about the body, the mechanical is code, security questions reality.
* Guilloché (or guilloche) is a decorative technique in which a very precise, intricate and repetitive pattern is mechanically engraved into an underlying material with great delicacy and precision. The term refers to a group of mechanical lathe techniques know as guilloché in French so called after a French engineer named Guillot, who invented a machine “that was capable of engraving patterns and precise designs into metallic surfaces” It has applications in numismatic as well as banknotes.