The barcode is a devise for machines to read of the value of an object. A value fixed in money. Money, essentially acts as a standard measure and provides a method to compare the values of dissimilar objects, but is in itself without any intrinsic value. Money has the effect of conflating different value systems. It colonialises more and more of our life and impinges on previous non-economic aspects of the life world.
More or less every value of goods and services are translated into money. You can buy care, peace and quiet, health, sex, training, pardons, spare time, babies, wellbeing, music, food, forgiveness, land, rights, ideas, education,… – by the same money, and thereby conflating these elements. As a consequence the rich gets healthier, better cared for, prettier spouses, more fit, better nourished, better educated, more secluded, etc. (though nothing new about that). The only thing I have seen debated lately is Bride price – probably reflecting a motion that you can’t buy love – still this is done in both explicit and implicit ways. Of cause bride prices have been paid throughout history, but not with general-purpose money, rather with more special purpose currency, as land, cattle, linen, bras rings, prestige, titles,
Money (as profit) is the driving force for generating commodities and services. The possibility to make money out of something is the purpose behind most inventions. Moreover, if the need for an item does not exist, it will be created through advertising.
In this perspective, street art is rather an odd element. It is probably the fact that it is not (yet) caught up in the commodity fetishism of late capitalism that makes authorities ban it. If it were bought and sold, people would more readily accept it. By the rise of a market for street art done on portable mediums, we probably move towards a larger degree of acceptance. Acceptance at the possible cost of the soul, the critical element, the alternative and the ideological principle of street art. I do not accuse individual artists for “selling out”. It is merely the sum-effect of individuals’ rational choices – in a world where rationality is reduced to the logic of money.