Our Thousand Dollar Quilts now have a web site of their own. Offered at face value.


Interestingly, money is not culture; currency is. More on that in my essay Culture is Anti-Rivalrous (scroll down to part IV). And here I am, a Free Culture advocate minting money on my quilt plotter. My impulse to share source files is mitigated by this. Free Culture readers of this blog: how can I best share the culture of this project without compromising the identity of the bills themselves? I like to share the “source code” of my projects once they’re out there, but I don’t see how I can do that with this one.


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

6 thoughts on “QuiltBank”

  1. Maybe you need some form of uniqueness in order to establish identity. Identity is separation of the self from others… maybe if you have a serial number registry, you can allow people to “identify” their quilts, but then you’re going down the road of “enforcing” culture by establishing conformity to the culture of the project. Maybe cryptocurrency folks have a solution to this?

  2. The bills are numbered. They also have the guilloche encryption pattern. But if I share the source files they can be replicated, which defeats the purpose. I can certainly share information on how to generate new guilloche patterns and numbers, and how to construct paths from scratch; but if I share the files for these particular paths, their unique identity is lost. Same reason you don’t share your private encryption key, because that particular key isn’t culture, while keys in general are.

  3. Different people have different ways of benefiting from the cultural value you are creating:

    * Most people would not benefit from your sharing of the source files, only those with access to similar production facilities who are interested in exploiting the design in order to capture a portion of the addressable market.

    * Fans of textile art might benefit from high-res photos of the pieces, or being able to see them in person.

    * Less-experienced graphic designers might find value in understanding the details of your design process (both creative and technical dimensions).

    * Artisan textile makers might benefit by understanding the technical challenges you faced in producing the bills.

    * Art historians might find value in your exploration of the deeper context of some of the historical issues manifested in the final pieces (money/value, power/control, property, quilting as historically valued less (“women’s work”), handicrafts vs. fine art, the continuum of artisan production to mass production, etc.

    These all seem to be cultural dimensions rather than property dimensions – people don’t need the source files or the artifacts to derive value. But of course providing that value still comes at a cost to you.

  4. Your comparison with private encryption keys is apt, but notice that free encryption software comes with source code for algorithms that will generate perfectly good (but new and distinct) private encryption keys. When it comes to your Guilloche encryption patterns, is there a way to separate the algorithm into two parts, one of which is small and can be kept private and can be suitably replaced by the user?

  5. One approach would be to share a “sample” implementation (e.g., files without the serial number of the made-by-Nina bill). People could riff from there to create their own. It would take extra effort to “fork” your files, but doing so would create cultural value without taking away from the identity of your bill.

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