Theories describing the behavior of eco-nomic and eco-logical systems have been entangled for centuries. This is perhaps most notable in Charles Darwin’s dependence upon ideas drawn from early political economists (like Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus) to develop his theory of evolution; the phrase “economy of nature” appears frequently in Darwin’s writings. Using conceptual tools developed for the study of nature, many attempts have been made to study the social inventions of money and markets in evolutionary terms—at times to support claims that free, open, unregulated markets are natural. A sustained, ongoing feedback loop between the two disciplines has formed. Language drawn from evolutionary science now seeps into corporate, government, and popular communication concerning matters of finance.
Rather than attempt to seek or dissolve the ground upon which a common study of economy and ecology is deemed possible, I turn instead to the possibility of communication between the systems studied. Plant communication is poorly understood, but it is known that plants send and receive messages about their environment, between members of the same species, with members of other plant species, and with other organisms. Molecules are passed through direct contact, through the soil, and through the air, often taking the form of chemical messengers. I consulted with a botanist to develop a message derived from specie, money in the form of coins. I have extracted molecular and microbial material from coins bearing images of plants. This extracted material contains information about the coins’ material composition and the microbial ecosystem of the cash economy. It is delivered as a message, in a vehicle of mist, that I sprayed around plants living in the lobbies of banks and financial services companies, where they live as if in a foreign country in which they do not know the language.