Above: Market-stall-holder passes goods. Credit: Quintin Gellar.

Piles of coins

Above: Piles of coins. Credit: Agnieszka

Trading room

Above: Trading floor at Raiffeisenverband, Salzburg, Austria. Credit: Raiffeisenverband.

Still life

Above: Antique book, bottle, and pistol. Credit: Kassel95.


State-backed fiat currency--as paper and coins--has increasingly come to be replaced by computer-based transactions by which money has become truly virtualized. The basic dynamic of this transformation is obvious, "money is nothing circulation is everything (VW: 106)." Virilio opposes the dematerialization of money. ("I have no choice but to oppose this move towards the absolute limit.") Once, long ago, such transactions were carried on with three dimensional objects--shells, grains, actual pieces of gold, etc.--then, with the move to fiat currencies it was two-dimensional, and then, into the electronic-digital era, this concrete quality vanishes altogether. The waning of the use of physical-money-as-tangible-object is a classic example of a broad trend that is underway: the aesthetics of disappearance. Whatever was once reified, concrete, and identifiable, tends to become invisible, mysterious, magical-and-cult-like (VW: 106-107). For Virilio the principal scene of financial dematerialization is share-trading and the share-trading-room. Electronic share-trading tends to produce the atmosphere of a game--a video-game in real-time at a terminal screen, "a pure electronic game."