Goin' to the loo


Diabloii.Net Member
Goin' to the loo

A new way to view London: from a toilet
Usable bathroom exhibit boasts one-way mirrored walls

By Jennifer Carlile
Updated: 9:10 a.m. ET Feb. 23, 2004

LONDON - Visitors to Britain will find a new stop on London’s site-seeing route this spring: a usable public toilet enclosed in one-way mirrored glass situated on a sidewalk near the River Thames. The contemporary art exhibit, which allows the user to see out while passers-by cannot peep in, toys with the concepts of privacy and voyeurism.

"I think there’d be a twinge of not believing that people outside couldn’t see you,†said Jeff Boloten, as he peered into the glass cube to see the metal prison toilet and its transparent walls.

The exhibit, entitled "Don’t Miss A Sec," is on display at a construction site across the road from Tate Britain, the national gallery of British art from 1500 to the present.

As museum-goers inquisitively press their noses to the reflective glass, and construction workers mill about, it isn't difficult to see why people would feel uneasy about using the glass outhouse.

"Playing with the idea of the most private bodily function and having to sit on a street corner is just bizarre,†said Boloten, who works at the Tate Britain.

“The construction site makes it interesting because portable toilets are at construction sites all the time, but, the Tate Britain’s a respected institution; the juxtaposition makes it more unique,†he said.

Far from testing the viewers’ levels of embarrassment versus exhibitionism, the artist, Italian-born Monica Bonvicini, conceived of the idea while watching people at art openings. Amid the gossip and pageantry, nobody wanted to leave the room for fear of missing a key entrance or comment. The "Don’t Miss A Sec" exhibit -- which was unveiled in December -- reflects peoples’ reluctance to leave the spectacle, and allows the art-goer to remain in the action, even while on the toilet.

While some viewers meditate on the exhibit’s psychological and cultural implications others revert to telling potty jokes.

British dailies and art commentaries have also had fun with the subject: “Loo with a view†and “Bathroom humor in London†have been among the headlines.

Panoptican surveillance system
The use of the sterile prison toilet and sink unit stems from the fact that the site once housed the Millbank Penitentiary, where prisoners were held before being transported to Australia in the 1800s.

The prison's architect Jeremy Bentham had hoped to create a Panoptican, or all-seeing, surveillance system for the penitentiary.

His design envisioned a cylindrical central tower, from where a guard could see all the prisoners in their cells, which radiated out from the tower, without being seen himself.

Bentham believed that the knowledge that they were being watched would prevent prisoners from being disobedient, and that they would come to internalize the watchful eye and be able to act as their own guards if they were eventually released.

Although Bentham’s Panoptican was never realized, 21st century surveillance systems, like closed circuit television (CCTV), have taken on a similar role.

"Don’t Miss a Sec" turns the tables by taking the all-seeing power away from the camera and giving it to the person on the toilet, while letting them remain invisible to the world.

But peoples' fears of being seen with their pants down still hold strong.

In 2000, a pair of self-proclaimed performance artists caused an uproar when they relieved themselves on artist Marcel Duchamp's 1917 sculpture of a urinal, on display at London's Tate Modern gallery.

But, even with full permission to defecate on Bonvicini's work of art, Britons and tourists alike tend to shy away from the challenge.

Considering that four-man outdoor urinals are a frequent site in the U.K. capital, some may question the need for nerves. And in some cultures using the toilet is not considered a private matter at all. In fact, it was common for ancient Greek aristocrats to discuss political and business affairs while attending to their own "personal business" in communal bathrooms.

Whatever one's take on toilet etiquette, visitors "Don't Miss A Sec" while viewing, or using, this exhibit.

First thing I saw when I signed out from MSN this morning. Thought it was a rather intriguing way to start the day. Would still be kind of freaky though. Sitting in there, looking out at everyone, thinking they can see you, but knowing they can't really.


Diabloii.Net Member
That sure is an interesting concept though. But if I had nowhere else to "do the paperwork" as it were, I'd try my hardest to see through from the outside, and if I couldn't see in no matter what, then I suppose I would use it.. but it would feel REALLY odd.


Diabloii.Net Member
Chief JB said:
I wish I had one on my street corner.
i think i would be brave enough to venture in there and avail myself of its utilities... maybe just number one the first time, then number two the next.. maybe :clap:


Diabloii.Net Member
But if you number two, and you walk out, everyone smells what you did...Those would be the looks I were afriad of.


Diabloii.Net Member
piff said:
But if you number two, and you walk out, everyone smells what you did...Those would be the looks I were afriad of.
hmm doesnt seem like you are in college... because when all you have is a thin stall wall between you and the person next to you, such things become irrelevant... as it were (or maybe as chappelle would say) '**** happens'

or maybe you just need to walk out and if anyone gives you a look be like 'i'm rick james biatch', and walk off as if you own the place. :idea:


Heh, I'd just stand in front of it, rub my chin and have a giant smirk on me when someone is using it.


Diabloii.Net Member
Jigga-Scrooge said:
im rick james beeitch.
hehe, i just downloaded that episode, as well as the rkelly pee on you remix, damn i am laughing so hard just thinking about it.

question: what did the five fingers say to the face? :scratch:


Diabloii.Net Member
ok forget this post ever happened.... *whistles* on an unrelated note, fuel is my favourite band to listen to at the moment, the whole new cd just makes me enjoy life when i listen to it


Diabloii.Net Member
Canadia142 said:
what did the 5 fingers say to to the face?

hehe, i gib you a cookie for that, specifically since you typed it in caps and added the exclamation marks which are mandatory... if you want i can upgrade it to a chocolate chip cookie.... :teeth:

edit: grrr this is the first time i have ever encountered this 60 seconds inbetween posts thing... very frustrating