MAKING AN EMERALD (LIGHT, LOVE, AND VALUE)
Humans have idiosyncratic ways of attributing value to objects and representational materials. The attribution of value to a mineral, a rock or a crystal can follow historical and cultural threads that hide the logic of its current valuation. For example, diamonds are usually considered one of the most valuable gems, and are very popular representations of value in the globalized imaginary.
Rough diamonds, however, do not have defined geometrical shapes to the human eye, and are usually shaped into faceted polyhedrons, mimicking, perhaps, other minerals and crystals that do "grow" in defined geometrical shapes. They are also more abundant than other more colorful minerals which command lower prices in the gem markets, such as emeralds or rubies. Lower on the end of valuation, are crystals such as quartz, which are not usually valued by collectors as gems but as "specimens" with aesthetically compelling shapes.
What confers different values to colors, shapes and symbols?
This question takes a new breadth when we think about representations of value in digital systems. I remember that in one of my favorite childhood games, Zelda Ocarina of time, "rupees" of different colors and Magic Gems shaped the structure of the game's progression. In digital transactions, and game environments, these light objects become real tokens of human time, effort and organization.
What does this mean for digital representation of value in an era of digital transactions?
Besides the historical specificities of trade, markets and culture that have given them value, it is presumable that gems and crystals with different geometrical forms, either human-found or human-shaped, are attractive because of how they reflect, refract and shape light, and how they can be used for tagging interactions.
Making and Emerald, or Light, Love and Value, is an open-ended research project that reflects upon the value we give to light objects, and how in time they become carriers of value themselves. It is a potpurri that ranges from explorations of light and gems under cameras, collections of Gifs, Gifs I made myself, documentations of light microscopes and love for fluorescent molecules.