Ashley Kim

Mon E

Mon E is a series of high valued cash from around the world burning.


Money is nothing but a decorative piece of paper with lots of germs if no collective belief in value is given as a community. This series explores what the value of money means to you personally: What comes to your mind when you see a piece of paper burning? How do you feel when you see high valued cash turning into ash? Each cash is unique with its own serial number, so enjoy collecting one-of-a-kind disappearance.

Duration: ~2 weeks (10/18 - 11/1/2021)
Tools: Unity (shader graph, particle system), Premiere Pro, OpenSea

View on OpenSea


Project Ideation

This project was a good opportunity for me to research about NFT and create one of my own. The world of NFT was confusing before this research, but I think I at least have a better understanding of it. The main impressions I got from it is that the NFT system is basically a stock market with each stock as some visual element, whether it’s art, meme, or a screenshot of a tweet. A lot of the popular items were collectables, which displays the same structure or an image with different variations given per item. Some collectables, like CryptoPunk, were sold at a very high price, which made me wonder whether the buyers are paying such high price straight from their pocket (i.e. exchange money issued by a country to cryptocurrency for the purchase) or simply using the cryptocurrency they earned by mining or doing a cryptocurrency investment. If the latter is the case, I wondered if the purchase choice made by the buyer would be different if they had to pay with the money issued by a country (i.e. the money that’s more widely accepted in the physical world).

Process

Taking these in consideration, I decided to create collectables that comment on the economical value of NFTs and cash. Afterall, the money system only works because we, as a collective, believe in it. Trust is an essential element for the system to function. The amount in a bank account is nothing but some digits, but we trust that the money system holds across the world and that the bank will provide the corresponding amount of cash that represents the value listed as digits, should the user like to purchase something.

Coming up with what to create (the motion of cash that represents the highest amount a single cash can represent for each currency burning) wasn’t that difficult, as I felt burning cash speaks directly and is something that’s not a common event in most people’s daily lives. Creating the visuals, however, took me a couple days. I wanted to take this project as an opportunity to explore shader graphs in Unity, so I learned how to create an animating texture using shader graphs through tutorials on Youtube. As I imagined, the shader graphs feature gave me so much potential in what I can create or animate in Unity: For this project, it allowed me to create a burning paper effect.

Unity Shader


Unity Particle Effect


Reflection

Overall, I like both the process and the outcome of this project. I’m glad to see other students noticing my intention behind the collectables I created during crit. I agree with one of the comments during crit that it would have been amazing if more people with an account viewed and/or made an offer to purchase my first NFTs, but that’s something out of my control. The best I could do is to advertise it on an active NFT collector community, which I did by creating a Twitter account dedicated to my NFTs and sharing as a reply to NFT collectors’ tweets. Either way, I’m happy with what I learned through this project (NFTs and Shader Graphs in Unity) and am planning to continue expanding and experimenting with more NFTs in the future.

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