Competition year: 2001
About William Gillespie
NOTE: I am describing a society as a nation-state situated somewhere within the existing social order, perhaps on a small island. If those who respond to this proposal suggest that I detach my imagination from the current reality and design a society, so to speak, as a world, I will happily consider that.
Original art is neither bought nor sold: it is used as currency. While the barter system is an acceptable and even preferred means of exchange, when currency is used, original art is the preferred currency, and is always acceptable. The exchange value of the work is determined by those making the transaction, and may include issues of durability, practicality, or beauty. Originality is considered a virtue of a work of art, but everyone develops personal methods of assessing the exchange value of a given artwork. The value of art is a subject on which there is much colorful disagreement. Checks take time to write or paint. Banks are similar to museums & libraries - all art stored there may be examined by those who do not own it to prevent a private accumulation of compositional techniques. Portfolios replace wallets. Panhandlers are performance artists. Murals and sculpture can be rent.
That originality is prized means that currency is unstable. Any object of perceived value, if imitated or copied, will depreciate. To a certain extent, artists may distribute multiple copies of a print, book, or recording, but they will not be able to escape making something new eventually. Everyone studies artworks to avoid replication, since fashions depreciate when their style becomes predictable. Plagiarism is avoided. Censorship is nonexistent. Paintings and sculpture are not necessarily displayed, as they can decrease in value as they become familiar. There is no background music. The study of art is a deliberate and consuming undertaking, people sit still when they listen to music, and do not read with the radio on.
Media are free and easy to obtain from the public studios. Everyone is encouraged and enabled to be an artist. Making and studying art in all media is involved in every year of schooling. Everyone reads. Everyone cooks.
A market is a social event, generally occurring once a week, where all citizens may interact, and exchange food and art and other commodities.
Currency is used by those who enjoy the market, but is not necessary in order to live: all basic needs are provided for.
Everyone works four hours a day, five days a week, so that everyone's basic needs are met.
This could involve work for any of the branches of the Public Design Office: the recycling station, the public kitchens, the public gardens, the public media, public transportation, or hospitals.
Everyone is also self-employed as an artist and as a gardener.
Small plots of land are available for free use, distributed annually by lottery. There is also a large public farm with a rotating staff, and the food it produces is distributed to those who do not or cannot produce or obtain their own.
All children take a year away from school in order to work at the recycling station - work which is considered central to an understanding of the betterment of society. There is flexibility as to which year they choose.
Citizens interested in pursuing a permanent role in a position requiring extensive training and practice, such as doctor or technical worker, may apply to do so.