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I am the coin
April 18, 2011 6:43 PM   Subscribe

IAMTHECOINIAMTELLINGTHISSTORYIAMINAGRIDCONSISTINGO
FTWENTYTHOUSANDCOINSAGRIDTWOHUNDREDROWSLONGBYONEHU
NDREDROWSHIGHEACHCOINISALETTERTHEREARENOSPACESANDN
OPUNCTUATIONMARKSTHEREISAHIDDENCLUETOHELPYOUFINDME

I Am the Coin is an installation by the artist Micah Lexier, consisting of 20,000 custom-minted coins, each containing a single letter, spelling out (twice) a story by writer Derek McCormack. The story contains a hidden clue to identifying the single coin of the 20,000 which is the piece's narrator. On the accompanying website, the story is rendered in plain text, and in clickable form. The first hundred people who click on the correct coin are promised an unspecified prize (and the piece is from last year, so the limit may already have been reached, caveat clickor.) Via The Ministry of Type.
posted by Horace Rumpole (45 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's absolutely no chance that I'm actually going to spend any amount of time reading this, but I salute its existence!
posted by Pants McCracky at 6:45 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


IAMTHEREALLYOVERTHOUGHTPIECEOFARTWITHAHOOKTHATSEEMEDMOREINTERESTINGONPAPERTHATISTURNSOUTOBEINPRACTICEBECAUSEITSACTUALLYJUSTREALLYFUCKINGANNOYING
posted by Jehan at 6:48 PM on April 18, 2011 [12 favorites]


teal deer
posted by finite at 6:54 PM on April 18, 2011


ITISNEITHER28JUNENOR22OCTOBERISIT
posted by unliteral at 6:54 PM on April 18, 2011


Going to the source code kind of ruins it. With Chrome you can also "inspect element" to jump directly to a single letter.
posted by codacorolla at 6:58 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


You found me!

I AM THE COIN

Unfortunately 100 other people found me first.

Thanks for visiting!
posted by trueluk at 6:59 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I AM HEARING THIS AS A MASHUP OF THIS AND THIS.

Pretty cool, actually.
posted by maudlin at 7:00 PM on April 18, 2011


I assumed this had something to do with The Zahir, at first. I'm not sure why; "I am the coin telling this story" just struck me as a very Borges way to begin something.

Neat idea, too.
posted by byanyothername at 7:01 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


On one hand, people are trying to conserve. On the other hand, I see (mostly American)artists being rather liberal with their use of materials. Actually...I'd go so far as to say "wasteful".

I don't see how this exuberant display adds anything to the human record except to say "oh yeah...I don't drive a humvee...but I do this". Big pimpin' bitches!"
posted by hal_c_on at 7:21 PM on April 18, 2011


I know why I don't like this. If I had access to a machine that could mint coins, I would come up with ten, twenty, fifty Americans who deserved to be on our coins - Cab Calloway, Nikola Tesla, e e cummings, Jim Thorpe, the list is endless. Then, I would make scads of coins with these folk on them, and my art project would be to get them in the hands of as many people as possible. Maybe have a unique id and a web site on the reverse, and let people track them. That's what I'd do.

[Plus, Numismatist Nerd says: These things don't have a manifest legal value for trade. They are medals, not coins.]
posted by benito.strauss at 7:30 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Previous comment not intended as a knock on you, Horace Rumpole. Heck, if art is supposed to provoke, the project and the post have both been effective.)
posted by benito.strauss at 7:33 PM on April 18, 2011


So the first 100 people to program a solution for reading the damn thing or find someone who has gets a prize?
posted by Blasdelb at 7:40 PM on April 18, 2011


What a complete waste of time. How do people get funding for this utter crap?
posted by joannemullen at 8:03 PM on April 18, 2011


What a complete waste of time. How do people get funding for this utter crap?

Because some people are open-minded about what constitutes art and none of us will ever agree on whether some things are good, bad or unworthy - but let's not question the right of the artist to make it.
posted by crossoverman at 8:25 PM on April 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, there's no way I'm spending time with that.
posted by valkyryn at 8:27 PM on April 18, 2011


I presumed this was part of the Portal 2 ARG
posted by GilloD at 8:28 PM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Once upon a time, all writing looked like that, just big blocks of text without any punctuation or differentiation between upper and lower case. You had to infer the beginning and end of sentences from context, and there was no such thing as commas. It must have been a lot harder to read books back then.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:33 PM on April 18, 2011


SPOILER BELOW

@Blasdelb- There's not much to it actually. Start where it says to start at but instead of reading left to right, read down.
posted by trueluk at 8:40 PM on April 18, 2011


It also told me that 100 people found it before me. I am trying to interpret the constancy of the number of people to have found the coin as an artistic statement, but I'm coming up short.

The puzzle itself is disappointingly simple. I feel short changed.
posted by dsword at 8:42 PM on April 18, 2011


Did anyone else skip the puzzle entirely and brute force the Javascript to find the answer? (I don't really care if you did, just wanted to let everyone know I'm still l33t)
posted by AndrewStephens at 8:47 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the full installation piece works a lot better than the web version, and I feel like if I just saw a bunch of lettered coins on a wall without knowing the puzzle context, then I would appreciate it a lot more (it does look really appealing, imo).
posted by codacorolla at 8:55 PM on April 18, 2011


Derek McCormack is the Canadian national treasure most Canadians don't know about.

For a more American experience of McCormack, check out The Haunted Hillbilly, his supernatural story about Hank Williams and his relationship with a vampire tailor.

Strangely enough, I was just a guest on a literary podcast where I sang the praises of McCormack and The Haunted Hillbilly for half an hour. Is it a self-link to post that? They asked me about my own books in the episode intro, so I don't know.

At any rate, check McCormack out. He's a depraved genius.
posted by showmethecalvino at 9:00 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would be far more interesting if it was a copy of Borge's "The Zahir" made of coins...

As it is, the so-called 'story'...meh.
posted by jet_manifesto at 9:04 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Although I wouldn't/won't try to read/decipher it, I like it as an art piece. It's aesthetically pleasing to me. So for me, it works.
posted by bayani at 9:07 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


No need to feel guilty about self-linking showmethecalvino, I'll do it for you - I'll link anyone that's 'jumping on the e-book craze'.
posted by unliteral at 9:16 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not usually a fan of modern art but I love huge collections of similar objects with something different in them. Piles of keys, boxes of LEGO, etc. There's something so BEAUTIFUL about them.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:28 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]



Once upon a time, all writing looked like that, just big blocks of text without any punctuation or differentiation between upper and lower case. You had to infer the beginning and end of sentences from context, and there was no such thing as commas. It must have been a lot harder to read books back then.


That pretty much sums up Latin 2 in high school for me. Look up word meanings. Make up sentence with those words. When in doubt, Hercules killed something or Caesar himself conquered whatever.
posted by maryr at 10:04 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, unliteral!

Seriously, y'all -- check out McCormack's books. You won't be disappointed. Unless you have morals or some other quaint affliction.
posted by showmethecalvino at 10:15 PM on April 18, 2011


I solved this by looking at the HTML source back when it was originally posted in January of 2010. It turned out that the Bank of Montreal hadn't set the site up to automatically block submissions after the first hundred winners. Instead, they were counting on being able to manually turn off the script once their quota had been reached.

What followed the next morning was an email from none other than the very Dawn Cain mentioned in the coin's story:

Congratulations on locating the coin and thanks so much for visiting the site. I AM THE COIN is a collaboration between artist Micah Lexier, writer Derek McCormack and a dedicated crew of craftspeople who all worked very hard toward producing this year-long installation. In the first few days we have had a flurry of activity on the website, including numerous people who wrote to redeem the FIND THE COIN prize.

We hope we have not overstated the prize, which consists of one of the extra tokens from the installation. It is meant as a symbolic thank you to those who took the time to interact with the project. The site also caught the attention of a group who just looked at the computer code rather than read the story.

We are happy to honour the contest and send you the prize token, but before we do so we wanted to confirm that you do in fact want the prize sent to you. We only have 100 prizes to award and we want to make sure we are sending them to those who wish to have a token of their interaction with this artwork.

Please write us back by JANUARY 11, 2010 to confirm that you would like the prize sent to you. If we do not hear back from you we will assume that you are fine with not receiving the prize.

Thanks so much for your time.


I responded, forfeiting my prize, and thanking her for handling the situation gracefully and without denouncing the folks who took an unorthodox approach to interacting with the installation.

One month later, a coin appeared in my mailbox.

Thanks, Dawn.
posted by SemiSophos at 10:20 PM on April 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


I got lucky and found it quickly, mainly because the act of scrolling to the starting point made me think vertically to start. Reading the rest of it? Hide the prize better and maybe next time!
posted by rouftop at 10:48 PM on April 18, 2011


Looks a little bit like Africa to me.
posted by MattMangels at 11:41 PM on April 18, 2011


Top marks for effort. But as puzzles go, it's hardly Kit Williams, is it?
posted by iotic at 12:36 AM on April 19, 2011


BESURETODRINKOVALTINE
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:14 AM on April 19, 2011


How do people get funding for this utter crap?

It was a commission from a bank. Is it really such a stretch ?
posted by skullbee at 1:55 AM on April 19, 2011


hal_c_on: "On one hand, people are trying to conserve. On the other hand, I see (mostly American)artists being rather liberal with their use of materials. Actually...I'd go so far as to say "wasteful"."

Wasteful of what, metal? Is this WWII?
posted by autoclavicle at 2:03 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


AndrewStephens: yes. It was a lot easier than reading a wall of uppercase.
posted by flabdablet at 2:48 AM on April 19, 2011


what if they were candy coins.
posted by clavdivs at 3:05 AM on April 19, 2011


When you find the coin, you should get to unwrap it and eat the chocolate inside.

Or maybe that's the special prize.
posted by bwg at 4:10 AM on April 19, 2011


OHGODHOWDIDTHISGETINHEREIAMNOTGOODWITHART
posted by Decani at 5:12 AM on April 19, 2011


I am the cheese...
posted by Splunge at 5:31 AM on April 19, 2011


tl;dr
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:49 AM on April 19, 2011


"I AM THE COIN!"

Yep. Found it easily with the clue about "Open Your Eyes" and the side, etc. Didn't bother to read the whole thing; not necessary to solve the puzzle.

But since 100 people have already found it...didn't any one of them reveal what the prize was?
posted by misha at 9:35 AM on April 19, 2011


I previewed, and saw SemiSophos' remark, but I am surprised no one has revealed the prize openly, is what I mean.
posted by misha at 9:39 AM on April 19, 2011


The first 100 viewers who identified the coin correctly on the project's Web site received a multiple by Lexier of a coin stamped with an I.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:46 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


IAMTHEWHINYMEFITEWHOHASTOSHITONEVERYTHING
posted by broken wheelchair at 3:58 PM on April 19, 2011


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