The thought that counts (2¢)
( details )
Exchange rate boards, single-channel audio
127 × 101 × 8 cm, 2'54"

“Idiom” descends from the Greek idioma: “a manifestation of the peculiar.” As its etymology suggests, an idiom compresses a pattern of thought specific to a people or place—a social id—into readymade form. This is why, when translated literally, an expression of ignorance in Germany (“Tomaten auf den Augen haben,” “You have tomatoes on your eyes.”) may be no more than a strange facial treatment elsewhere. When idioms retain their figurative meanings across cultures (for instance, the Portuguese “saber de coração” and English “to know by heart”), it is because of persistent language contact, like that forged through trade or politics.

The thought that counts (2¢) translates the American English idiom “and that's my two cents” into the languages of twenty-three countries with a ¹⁄₁₀₀ monetary unit, adjusting the expression to the current Travelex exchange rate.

A photograph of two rectangular black currency exchange rate boards on a white wall. At the top of each board, 'Currency Exchange' is written in white capitalized, sans-serif characters. Below this are two LED windows displaying the date (04–06) and time (11:37). The rest of each board is filled with twelve rows of the rate of various currencies, with the name of its country, and the country's flag. The 'BUY' column is blank. The 'SELL' column is illuminated with the relative exchange rate of two American cents.