Artist John Chirillo has created a work of art that required almost 15,000 one-dollar bills. Chirillo took each dollar bill, carefullly cut out the all-seeing eyes from the reverse, until he had a whole jar-full of ‘em. The whole lot of them were then mounted in rows, creating a fast expanse of eyes.
According to the notes in the Imgur page, all bills were put back into circulation. Legal? Yes: the mutilation wasn’t done to devalue or otherwise falsify the bills, and well over 2/3 of the original bill was intact. This means that banks and businesses would have accepted them fine, but pretty much the instant they made it to a reserve bank they’d have gone into a shredder to be replaced by crisp new bills.
The all-seeing eye on the back of the dollar is one of the most controversial parts of our money. First, its connection to Freemasonry squicks out a lot of people right off the bat. Created in 1935, the designer of the new dollar, Henry Wallace, found the symbol relevant and did some due diligence by asking a Catholic if he thought there’d be any problem with it. That hasn’t stopped Christians from going off the deep-end over its symbolism, though. From the other end, the recent overwhelming evidence of all-seeing government surveillance has brought the the all-seeing eye out as a symbol of the fascist surveillance state. As a symbol, I think it worked, although maybe not as the original engraver intended. When a symbol loses value, it just becomes an image lacking definition. When it becomes a representation of an important concept, good or bad, then some Milwaukee artist feeds off that meaning and spend three years of his life cutting tiny triangles out of dollar bills.