Born in Hong Kong, Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung now lives and works in New York. His digital collages of popular culture adopt the form of advertising in a cartoon like mythology. Through various media he explores the nature of digital communication while touching on issues such as identity, politics, sexuality, and power. His Make It Rain project challenges the very notion of money.
Social practice is an art medium that focuses on social engagement, inviting collaboration with individuals, communities, and institutions in the creation of participatory art.
For artist Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, social practice meant taking on the very foundation of capitalist society – money.
Running out of money? What’s an artist/entrepreneur to do? Why not make like the Federal Reserve and just print some? We can then all be “ONE HAPPY FAMONEY,” say Hung.
Inspired by complementary currencies like Bangla-Pesa, alternative currencies like BerkShares and decentralized monetary system like BitCoin, Make It Rain (∄MIR) consists of a limited circulation of 100,000 custom designed and printed currency called ∄MIR, short for “Make It Rain”- the action of throwing stacks of money up in the air. The choice of the name ∄MIR also stems from the Russian word “Мир” meaning “World”, “Peace” and “Society”.
The ∄MIR currency is strapped in 50 counts with a total quantity of 2,000 bundles available for purchase. The general public are provided an “investment opportunity” to trade U.S. dollars in exchange for this new currency. The initial exchange rate is $1 USD to ∄1 MIR.
Because of the opacity of the ∄MIR currency system, the more the ∄MIR currency is sold, the more its values increases. Similar to the decentralized digital currency Bitcoin, ∄MIR will not devalue due to a set limit in circulation. Patrons can check the latest exchange rate online.
Make It Rain (∄MIR) investigates the relationship between capitalism and our fiduciary monetary system. In 1971 during the Nixon Shock, the United States unilaterally terminated the convertibility of the US dollar to gold and rendered the US dollar a Fiat Money. The money we used nowadays is not convertible into gold, silver or any other commodity and has no intrinsic value. It is backed only by faith that it is an accepted medium of exchange.
By creating a currency that combines both Fiat Money (in this case the faith to the artist’s career) and Commodity Money (artist’s work as valuable commodity), the project examines the possibilities of the democratization of money by playing with the three functions of money- as the medium of exchange, the unit of account and the store of value.
The project aims to ask questions about our monetary system while alleviating poverty through microcredit lending.
25% of each ∄MIR sold will be used as sustainable loans to help entrepreneurs in developing world through the non-profit Kiva.org.
Hung is also the creator of “In G.O.D. We Trust, where ‘G.O.D.’ is an abbreviation of “Global Obama Devotion.” When Obama was elected President, Hung saw this giant surge of faith around the world. But how was Obama going to succeed in tackling the world’s problems from Day 1? The result was a series of works depicting the hopes, fears, and expectations of the global community.