Imagine going out for a walk on a nice day. You’re walking on a fairly busy street when, all of the sudden, you walk by a pile of money. A pile of change more specifically. What would you do?
Lana Mesic, a 29-year-old photographer from the Netherlands and her Airbnb host Jamahl Mcmurran were curious to find out. Lana was in London for an artistic residency. She started her “social experiment” by gathering 15,000 twopence coins for an art project. With this, she built a tower.
The purpose of the project was to explore how value is created. Once the project was over, Mesic had no idea what to do with the coins. She asked her Airbnb host who had been staying with her for advice.
According to Huffington Post, while looking over at a neighboring canal, McMurran suggested to Mesic that she should put the coins on the street.
McMurran told HuffPost: “I said it pretty flippantly, as a joke.” But they were both highly intrigued and decided to go for it.
By 9 AM, the coins were placed in a pile by the canal. The two sat in McMurran’s balcony and waited. McMurran live-tweeted their experiment.
What the two saw was pretty entertaining. It was also an interesting social experiment, seeing the different reactions of people.
The first tweet is essentially showing the pile of change, made up of 15,000 coins. Jamahl decided to use the hashtag #coinsbythecanal.
It was not long until a few kids approached the pile and started taking photos. They were either treating it like a sandbox or checking to see if the currency was real.
But some people actually took some of the coins or attempted to take all of them. One kid stuffed his bag with the change but carrying it was not easy.
Another man took a few coins and rode off on his bicycle. Jamahl tweeted along with the photo “others need some change for their coffee.” Smart.
One man saw the pile of coins as an opportunity to take an artsy photo for his Instagram. He put his umbrella on top of the coins and snapped a picture.
Another guy just randomly put his stuff down, took a pile of coins into his hands and…made it rain. Clearly, he saw it in a movie and always wanted to do it.
Then, a little bit before noon, two guys showed up and brought the experiment to an end. Jamahl tweeted a photo and wrote: “these guys decided to spoil everyone’s fun.”
They decided to take all of the coins at once, taking the time to pack each of their bags. But the experiment was better than either Mesic or McMurran expected.
According to HuffPost, Mesic said that though this experiment looked weird or funny, she found the motivations behind people’s responses most interesting.
It was interesting to her because, on a regular basis, people in the U.K. see twopence coins as annoying as North Americans find the pennies.
Mesic also points out that the experiment got her thinking whether or not people would have responded differently if they knew how much money was actually in the pile of coins.
Though this experiment leads to more curiosity about human behavior and why people do the things they do, Mesic says it was a lot of fun and pretty entertaining to watch how different people reacted to the coins.