The Naught Swap


Collaboration with Emily Gasteneau: We handed out personal surveys containing questions one might get when creating a password online. There were ten questions, beginning with, "what is your mother's maiden name," that became increasingly invasive ("who were you last intimate with, who is the last person you lied to?") We graded the surveys using an irrelevant algorithm and paid them, based ostensibly on their scores, with color coded wooden tokens. They could then go downstairs to the hair washing station and put the coin in the slot of the metal apparatus, which conveyed this payment to the hair washer. Hair was washed with lemon water, salt water or tea based on the color of the coin. We scored our hand movements on clients' heads according to remembered places, the geometry of the room, or a system of repeated patterns (this information was also coded in the coin's color). Reading material in the waiting area consisted of canvas books containing only colored squares. No explanation was given to participants at any stage, leaving them instead to respond the system of exchange, commerce, work and luxury expenditure according to familiar cues based in personal and generic experience.