the toilet

the toilet

I've just gotten back from a week canoeing the Boundary Waters and I should be writing about canoes or paddles or tents or walkie talkies (and why they have a baby talk name?) but instead I'm writing about toilets. Glorious toilets. Because one of the amazing things about returning to civilization from the wilderness is appreciating all the things that make civilization so civilized and chief among these has to be the toilet.  I've been obsessed with toilets (or rather bathrooms) for a long time and for sort of unclear reasons.  I vividly remember David Macaulay‚Äôs illustration of the toilet in Castle (not unlike a camp toilet incidentally).

http://cdn.kk.org.s3.amazonaws.com/cooltools/2013/07/built-to-last2sm.jpg

For that matter he also has a brilliant send up of a toilet in Motel of the Mysteries (which I'm relating to in a whole other way in my current toilet worshipping state).  

50c15ae3a7a0fd110ba6baa10349e06c.jpg

For a while I was working on a series that I called the Bathroom Self-Portraits where I would clandestinely take my picture in the mirrors of the bathrooms of famous buildings.  This became less challenging with the advent of cell phone cameras and less satisfying in the age of selfies, but I'm still always compelled to check out the bathrooms in new buildings awarding mental gold stars to architects that manage to make the bathroom a considered designed experience rather than a code dictated requirement.

When Rem Koolhaas curated the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2014 his exhibit Elements of Architecture included a history of toilets and I still regret not seeing it. Toilets themselves can be beautiful objects if you can get past the thinking about their use. There's a great water fountain at the Exploratorium that's a toilet. Why are people squeamish to drink from it?  Toilets are both functional objects and symbols of bodily functions that we object to (or at least prefer to keep hidden from polite society).  Of course there have always been those who want to break down this taboo and bring the toilet into the limelight (notably the authors of Everyone Poops and Marcel Duchamp - whose Fountain just turned 100).  These, apparently are my people.  

outside the box

outside the box