Robert Rauschenberg, “Money Thrower for Tinguely’s H.T.N.Y.”, 1960 (Electric heater with gun powder, metal springs, twine and silver dollars)

Behind many technological novelties we (instead of seeing angelic faces of the inventors in eyeglasses who are moved by pure disinterested curiosity) find money calculations, and even where we find idealistic motives, technological idolatry or moral goodness, when we search farther we still find orientation on career and money rewards or, in terms of Rauschenberg’s mechanical “Money Thrower”, “money thrown at promising creative enterprises”.

Money calculations behind the disinterested posture of too many inventors are “coded” in Rauschenberg’s installation by visual metaphors of griminess, ugliness and grimness which refer exactly to the financial obsession connected with the passion to participate in particular branch of technological development. This dirt-and-repulsiveness mixed with grease and humidity we feel when we look at Rauschenberg’s installation – underlines the archaic quality of the imagination behind human orientation on money, the misery exuded by the primitivism of this coin throwing machine reflecting the prison-like limitation of our psychological condition. Indeed, if we are ready to be excited by our childish interest in playing with coins, there is no reason to be surprised by the fact that in the 21st century so many Americans impatiently dream of becoming billionaires. Rauschenberg’s work in this sense is trans-historical. If our mind is obsessed with technological toys like “money thrower”, it means that our hearts are hopelessly at the mercy of banknotes as talismans.

That’s what Rauschenberg shows us with his endless technical constructions – each more awkward than another – kind of technological monsters reflecting the monstrosity of cognitive processes behind. There are constructions in the world which are polished and shining and look cosmetically clean (for example, some electronic equipment), but it seems that according to Rauschenberg these instruments of human will always be irredeemably dirty and greasy by their association with basic calculations of profit. It’s spiritual, not physical dirt what makes us comparable with Rauschenberg’s basic constructions.

It’s unpleasant to touch the “Money Thrower…”. The worn out metal box with its stains and scratches has a scratched definition on it and dusty electric wires which are always ready to plugin – insert its hot hunger to every and any outlet – endless plugs around ready to serve and satisfy.

In the world of “Money Throwers” wires needs sockets like coins – human palms and fingers – like banknotes perfumed by the dreams of wealth. Rauschenberg’s “Electric heater with gun powder, metal springs, twine and silver dollars” is a real attribute of human civilization, bones of human past and present existence we have to brood over.

But pay attention to the very coiled springs-and-twines with coins. They have a form of a heart – the universal pop-symbol signifying love, and are rooted inside the very box of “money thrower” which humorously alluding to the fairytale treasure box of a monarch stockpiling in it the gold of his destiny. In Rauschenberg’s parody this box possesses the financial potential of human heart of love – wealth as a measure of human ability to love.

In his many installations human being is absent because now the very value of human being is in his money-crafting artefacts. Today’s technological fetishism made human soul lost (made it superfluous, at best a showcase in an empty museum). Ultimately, Rauschenberg’s artefacts are a depiction of the very identity of modern human beings. Congratulations to us all!


Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)