Rob Furr

Department of Art, University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The degree to which our world has disassociated itself from physical reality has long interested me as an artist: the significance of much of what we interact with on a daily basis exists only in economic terms - in Google Maps, as a listing on Amazon, as part of a sales chart, in the metadata that we leave behind us. In my work, I attempt to portray the economic aspects of everyday objects in the same way as a landscape artist might portray a field at sunset: to show that there is more there than simple existence. Just as a field is not just a field, a coin is not just a coin; it is the point at which a person interacts most directly with society's unseen structures.

Pocket Change
Mixed media

This work was inspired by the controversy over Canada’s decision to stop production and use of the penny coin, a controversy I found odd, considering the multiple changes of coinage that has taken place in Canadian history. This work attempts to illustrate the relative significance of the smallest coin in use in Canada at various historical moments to the size of the economy in which it exists (note: at the time of creation, the Canadian dollar was above par, thus making the U.S. penny the smallest coin generally, if not legally, accepted in Canada) and the amount that an average worker would receive in pay, represented by the width and complexity of the fractal path in the centre of the image.

Electric Arcade
Mixed media

An exploration of the relationship between the economies of Great Britain and Canada in the years leading up to the First World War: in this work, the relative sizes of coins depict the relative dominance of the export economy on Canada, with the fractal illumination depicting the scale of emigration from England to North America over those same years. The color, seed, and fractal dimension of the illumination were derived from emigration records, allowing the county of origin for the emigrees to influence their depiction in this work.