SVA MA Design Research

SVA MA Design Research, Writing & Criticism1 is a one-year graduate program2
devoted to the study of design, its contexts & consequences.
Our graduates have gone on to pursue research-related careers in publishing, education, museums, institutes, design practice, entrepreneurship, & more.3

  1. Formerly known as D-Crit
  2. About the program
  3. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. All successful candidates awarded a significant scholarship!
SVA MA Design Research

136 W 21st St, 2nd Floor

New York, NY 10011





(212) 592-2228

Virtual / Spiritual – SVA MA Design Research

Shani Rodan

Virtual / Spiritual

What is money? What is the role it plays in our lives?

We live in a material world. However, ironically the way we trade our material possessions by money or currency is a non-material one but rather a trust system. Money is a spiritual matter, similar to religion and tradition, its believers keep fulfilling orders and habits that support its main principles.Money has always been a leading actor in the human society.In his essay  “Critical Terms For Media Studies”, David Graeber calls money “The Media Of Exchange”.

The relationship of people and money is based on honor. There is a deep understanding and belief in that virtual thing called money. The fact that people believe in money, the system surround it, and use it all the time,  is what gives money its power and validity.

Banks no longer keep gold bars in safe boxes and print money accordingly. There is no physical representation of the value of money. The money is actually virtual so the information about it exists on computer servers.Coins and bills are still being used for small transactions such as paying for a single ride in public transportation or buying a bottle of water in a grocery shop.However, except for these small transactions, most of the finance activity is virtual.Nowadays people can make financial transactions without using “real money” for a couple of days simply by using a small piece of plastic called a ‘credit card’, or an online app. The representation of money articulates as numbers on the computer screen.At the beginning of the month, the salary is paid and goes directly to the virtual place called bank account. We cannot see the physical representation of our salary, but we know the ‘money’ it is there because we notice the changing numbers in the account balance. Although we can’t really see the money or touch it- we feel its major influence on our decisions and lifestyle.

The latest advance in the honor system between people and the money is ‘Bitcoin’ a  digital currency and innovative payment network. ‘Bitcoin’ exist only in the digital sphere and receives its power from its users around the virtual world.

By adopting Bitcoin the people are actually saying that they don’t even need the money to be printed out by the government or any other regulatory organization and only rely on the fact that Bitcoin is secure and people will trade for it.

It will be interesting to see how this field will be developed, and what influences will the bitcoin have on the financial market.

David Graeber  “Exchange” in Critical Terms For Media Studies. Chicago. University Of Chicago Press. 2010