- Key concepts:
- odd things done with toilets
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- We Viridians don't
normally dabble in bathroom humor, but these peculiar
snippets were assembled by a curator we know who
works for the Guggenheim Museum. This is more
than toilet humor – this is, like, toilet art.
Jon Ippolito. He sent this stuff.
Date: July 23, 2004 9:27:05 PM CDT
"Google says you haven't written about these links
yet, so I just had to forward them on. Maybe it's
time to lighten up those Viridian Notes with a
little bathroom humor?
"Nestled between the reviews of solar shingles
and bamboo flooring on reactual.com is a writeup
on Waterless Urinals:
A Guide to the Most Efficient Things in the World
"These waterless urinals are plainly more efficient
than the ones currently in use in most bathrooms
"They can save up to 45,000 gallons of water and
more per year per urinal.
"They also require less maintenance, and are less
prone to plumbing problems. They have no moving parts.
Urine is contained under a special biodegradable
liquid called BlueSeal.
"According to the manufacturer, some high profile
installations include Liberty Island, New York;
Petronas Towers, Malaysia; and The Jimmy Carter
"I wonder if there's a special icon for these toilets
in the 'pee-Pod?' I guess the 'audio information'
doesn't include a flushing sound:
"Bringing relief with the pee-Pod
To pee, or not to pee?
"The trauma of dirty loos could be a thing of the past
for users of pPod, a guide to the best and worst of
public toilets for iPod owners.
"The possibility of unpleasant odours, a lack of soap
or paper, graffiti and absent attendants have the
power to strike fear into the hearts of all but the
sturdiest of visitors to public toilets.
"The question of whether to hold on until a familiar,
clean facility is reached, or to bite the bullet and
gain immediate relief, is one which faces everyone
at some point.
"A possible solution is now being offered to iPod
users, who could soon have the power to choose
their loos with confidence.
"A free interactive guide to public conveniences,
appropriately called pPod, offers audio and text
information on their whereabouts, opening hours,
facilities and cleanliness....
"Not to be outdone, the US military has brought
"Army rations rehydrated by urine
19:00 21 July 04
"Would you eat food cooked in your own urine?
Food scientists working for the US military have
developed a dried food ration that troops can hydrate
by adding the filthiest of muddy swamp water
or even peeing on it.
"The ration comes in a pouch containing a filter
that removes 99.9 per cent of bacteria and most toxic
chemicals from the water used to rehydrate it,
according to the Combat Feeding Directorate, part of
the US Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick,
Massachusetts. This is the same organisation that
created the 'indestructible sandwich' that will stay
fresh for three years (New Scientist print edition,
10 April 2002).
"The aim is to reduce the amount of water soldiers
need to carry. One day's food supply of three meals,
weighs 3.5 kilograms but that can be reduced to about
0.4 kilograms with the dehydrated pouches, says
spokeswoman Diane Wood.
"The pouch – containing chicken and rice initially –
relies on osmosis to filter the water or urine. When
two solutions of different concentrations
are separated by a semipermeable membrane, with gaps
that allow only water molecules to pass through,
the water is drawn to the more concentrated side...."
Jon Ippolito remarks: "Either I've stumbled upon
the meme du jour or I've been spending too much
time around my pre-schooler children."
"Claim: Photographs show a public toilet made
with reflective glass walls.
"Example [Collected on the Internet, 2004]
"Here's a picture of a public toilet in Switzerland
that's made entirely out of one-way glass. No one
can see you in there, but when you are inside, it
looks like you're sitting in a clear glass box.
"Origins: Although our mores regarding the display
of the human body and bodily functions have changed
a good deal over the years (for example, the
notion that a woman might breast-feed her child in
a public place was almost completely unthinkable
just a few decades ago), most of us still
hold very strong taboos against anyone other than
intimates seeing us in certain circumstances, such
as when we're unclothed, when we're engaged in
execretory activities, and when we're engaged in
sexual activities. Our squeamishness in these
regards is such that we're often quite uncomfortable
when others are present during these circumstances,
even if they cannot see us. (Many people feel quite
embarrassed about disrobing when a member of
the opposite sex is present in the room, even if that
other person keeps his or her eyes tightly closed.)
"On the other hand, we may not be so fussy
about stripping down in a locker room or using
a public bathroom in the presence of others – it
somehow seems more acceptable for us to do these
things in front of other people when those others are
engaged in the same activity.
"The concept of how we react to 'seeing but not
being seen' was put to the test by 38-year-old
architectural artist Monica Bonvicini in December 2003,
when her work entitled 'Don't Miss A Sec' was installed
at a construction site (the future home of the Chelsea
College of Art and Design) across the road from
London's Tate Britain museum (not in Switzerland,
as claimed in the text quoted above)."
Monica Bonvicini, feminist German art gal
"Bonvicini's creation is a public toilet enclosed
within reflective glass walls that allow the user to
see out but prevent those outside from seeing in, an
exhibit that challenges whether we can adapt to the
idea of being able to view others passing in close
proximity to us while we engage in an activity which
we don't want them to view – even when we know full
well that they can't possibly see us. As a spokesman
for Ms. Bonvicini explained:
"'It will arouse curiosity because people can come
and just use it, although there is a question of
whether people will feel comfortable doing so.
"'They may be wary of desecrating a work of art or
may be uneasy that because they can see out, other
people can see in.
"'There could be this feeling that there is some
form of switch to change it and let people see in,
but of course there isn't.'
"Jeff Boloten, who works at the Tate Britain, noted:
"'Playing with the idea of the most private bodily
function and having to sit on a street corner is
"'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.'
"The title of the work refers to Ms. Bonvicini's
observation that attendees at art openings were
afraid to leave the room for fear of missing a key
entrance or comment, hence her 'Don't Miss A Sec'
exhibit 'reflects peoples' reluctance to leave the
spectacle, and allows the art-goer to remain in the
action, even while on the toilet.' Her use of a
stainless steel toilet and sink unit was inspired
by the fact that the 'Don't Miss A Sec' exhibition
site once housed Millbank Penitentiary, a 19th century
"Last updated: 14 July 2004
Urban Legends Reference Pages (c) 1995-2004
by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
Carlile, Jennifer . "A New Way to View London:
From a Toilet."
MSNBC.com. 5 March 2004.
Rubinstein, Raphael. "A Tale of Two Toilets."
Art in America. February 2004.
BBC News. "Art's Glass Toilet Tests Courage."
3 December 2003.
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WHEN YOU'VE GOTTA GO,
YOU'VE GOTTA GO
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