Fauna: A Penny Press
(w/ Stuart O. Anderson and various illustrators)
interactive custom-built penny-smashing machine
2014 - present (original concept 2008)
Created by Stuart Anderson and Justseeds member Shaun Slifer, the Fauna penny press is an interactive kinetic sculpture that creates an experience designed to catalyze thought about the role of humans in the natural world. This experience uses the human desire to identify with wild animals to present questions about how extinction alters our experience of nature, how adaptation drives our ecological future, and how an animal’s symbolic and cultural value can determine its survival.
Participants use the machine to create double-sided pennies featuring embossed images selected from eighteen original illustrations of North American wild animals. These durable images present critically endangered and extinct species on the face of the coin, and display the tracks of animals that have successfully adapted to their urban environment on the back.
While the modern elongated penny originated in the 1890s, the practice of carrying coins as markers of identity, duty, or debt can be traced for thousands of years. The coins produced by “Fauna” give their bearers an opportunity to reflect on their personal relationship with wildness, extinction, and survival.
More information, and small editions of the pennies, can be found here.
Artists who have participated by providing illustrations: Josh MacPhee (Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle), Katie Kaplan (Caribbean Monk Seal), Bec Young (Red Wolf), Mazatl (Jaguar), Mary Tremonte (Eastern Cougar), Ally Reeves (Passenger Pigeon), Pete Railand (Eastern Elk), Roger Peet (Great Auk), and myself (Mexican Grizzly Bear).
(Meanwhile I keep a list of my personal collection of smashed pennies, with some scans: Penny Collection List)