Venice Art Biennale: musical cash point machines

The musical cash point machine from Allora & Calzadilla

One of the very best ideas I saw at the Venice Art Biennale wasn’t actually very ‘arty’ or beautiful, but it was an ingenious idea that, if I ruled the world, I’d implement everywhere tomorrow.

It was Algorithm, the musical cash point machine from artist collaborative Allora & Calzadilla (a Cuban and a Pennsylvanian who work in Puerto Rico), who curated and complied the USA pavilion. This spectacular version of an ATM plays wonderfully loud organ music (different each time it’s used) as you put your card in, punch in your numbers and take the cash. It works brilliantly too, I took out 20 Euros from the machine and have my receipt to prove it ( will this be art in the future, I wonder?) which is the first time I have found a work of art that has been useful. It made everyone in the room smile and encouraged more money to be extracted than was probably intended.

I think this is a brilliant idea that could be tailored to customer needs, perhaps using words as well as music. For example, if you are overdrawn, or feeling a little low about your financial situation, you could get the voice of Marvin, the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy talk you through how gloomy life could get if you don’t buck your ideas up. Nothing annoyingly corporate, Marvin would have cleverly been programmed to say something interesting, funny and different each time. Or maybe it could tell you a joke?

It might be rather uplifting to have your cash machine sing something lovely to you. Wouldn’t it be the best thing on a miserable Monday morning? Or just make you smile even more as you headed out for a fun girls evening out (a blast of Beyoncé live from Glastonbury?). Obviously this wouldn’t work in machines close to houses, where the additional noise might get a bit tedious, but where it would only improve the environment to get a blast of seriously moving organ music or disco, I think it should be encouraged.


  • Sarah says:

    Love that idea. Have a girl crush on Beyonce now, after her amazing performance at Glasto.

  • Amanda says:

    Steph, we’d write a programme that somehow disguised the real state of your finances if there were other people in the queue, It would be able to DETECT the queue and adjust. *clever stuff* A

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