WC 2006

Soundnet public toilet

The art project WC 2006 played in 40 public toilets and toilet facilities from 2006 through 2009. It was invited to museums, galleries, art fairs, art institutions, public locations, private locations, e.g. in Nuremberg, Munich, Berlin, Cologne, Vienna, Salzburg, Miami. The location of the public toilet intrigued Tanja Hemm with its question about 'the bordercrossing between intimacy and public action as well as intimate space and public space'.

WC 2006 was sold into the collection of the Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg in Salzburg, Austria, in 2007.

WC 2006

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WC 2006

Project description

Public toilets are everywhere. A public toilet is a location defined by specific parameters in its architectural and interior design and we perceive it as an exchangeable stage, a space without a place. The ‚public toilet’ is a paradox location where an intimate act meets public exposure. A location which can be homey grounds and which can disturb us strongly at the same time – sometimes we do not even find the right naming for it. We rationally functionalize the public toilet as a necessary and automatic place of action within our daily routine, in order to keep ourselves at a safe distance.

The aim of ‚WC 2006’ was to link as many public toilets as possible through sound. The same sound composition was heard in about 40 toilets and toilet facilities in different public areas (eg. museum, gallery, theater, restaurant, public institutions, art festivals).

'WC 2006' consists of nine compositions. One individual composition lasts between 0.45 and 1.5 minutes and is therefore long enough for the listener to perceive it in a one-shot-only-listening-experience and short enough to listen to it repeatedly within a reasonable time span. The listeners’ experience evolves out of the interchange of sound, location and individual connotation.

Each toilet user automatically becomes part of the community of coincidental listeners by entering the realms of a participating toilet at a certain point of time. Users learnt of their participation through a DIN A 4 information sheet posted in each toilet cabin. The underlying and far reaching net-character of the location ‘public toilet’ became clearly visible through audible means.

The linking of public toilets through identical soundcompositions as well as the collaboration with the acoustics’ immanent expanding and transforming impact on the listener’s perception of the location, resulted in the transfiguration of this common place: a new platform for the listener who is actor and recipient in one was created. He or she had the possibility to experience various positions within the interplay of the three parameters sound, location and individual act. This provided an opportunity for a re-definition of the public space ‘public toilet’ beyond the perspectives limited by functionalization and taboo.

The sound compositions created for ‚WC 2006’ surprised and emotionally involved the toilet user into the location. They each evolved around a sound that was suited to dwell and linger within the architectural and acoustic parameters of the location ‘public toilet’. There are two instrumental compositions, three natural sound compositions and four text compositions. No offending sounds or sounds that are directly connected with ‘toilet acts’ will be used. Technical euqipment was installed mostly invisible in the toilet facilites.