In only 2,5 minutes I follow silver from the mines into its transformation in monetary coins. On all continents silver is an old basis for monetary value; in many languages the word silver is synonymous for money: “l’argent” in French, “plata” in Spanish, “rupee” in India. Silver was also connected to luxury objects (in spite of its reputation of being ‘the poor men’s gold’). In this video assemblage I have only included flashes of references to the luxury of silver in objects from Europe, China and India. Most silver is found in Peru and Mexico, but most consumption of silver is in India; in 2015 one third of the world consumption of silver was in India.
Silver has anti-septic and anti-bacterial qualities of silver that allows medical appropriations in for instance surgical instruments, which is alluded to by a reference to the television series The Knick where a black doctor in NYC around 1900 introduces silver in the operation room. Probably the purity of silver also explains its legendary power to kill vampires, represented here by Nosferatu. Of course silver’s reflecting qualities have been at the basis for the invention of photography and film. Even in the digital age, silver is still important, not only as conducting material in many camera’s, phones and computers. But also in digital silver printings, in digital touch screens, and in the return of the silver screen for 3D projection.
In the middle of this remix of Follow the Silver, Andy Warhol addresses silver as the metal of the past and the future. Looking back at the Hollywood stars (Katharine Hepburn as silver moth in Christopher Strong, by Dorothy Arzner in 1933!) from the midst of the Space Age, he reflects on all this shiny silver from his Silver factory. But of course silver has also been a main ingredient in making mirrors, and so silver is also connected to narcissism. Warhol’s Screen Tests have transformed in the countless 15 minutes (or seconds) of fame in our selfies culture. And in the transmutations that the fashion industry provokes as exemplified by some silver metallic references to this aspect of contemporary culture. Finally, silver is the metal of the moon, which is where both Bjork and the NASA take us to in the last seconds of this trajectory to follow silver. Silver is hard to grasp. It remains mysterious. More is hidden.