Review Summary: Bathrooms are sinister, apparently.
North Korean native Hong Chulki's Amplified WC
is all about the interaction between two feedback loops that Chulki set up in the Nam June Paik Art Center between the summer and fall of 2009 as a tribute to Paik's similar "Prepared WC." Comprised of contact microphones placed underneath air ducts, exposed wire, tin foil and other electronic devices, Chulki's intention was to magnify the subtle vibrations of the machines in the bathroom. Think of it as improvised music without an improviser. The music itself reflects the absence of human touch, as all you hear is a dense mixture of closed-circuits, glitches, feedback and buzz. However, the fact that the ‘improviser' (I'm using that term as loosely as possible here, I am aware) is the building itself doesn't make the twenty minute sample provided here a sterile one. The movements of the machines, the building's processes quickening and slowing down work together to provide a surprisingly coherent and extremely creepy whole. Flashes of feedback and high frequencies are sinister, painting a portrait of a factory running on its own. Each little device has been imbued with malevolence, and when all the sounds work together, like cogs meshing in a machine, they illuminate the intricacy and frightening nature of its subject. In essence, Chulki avoids his concept's biggest potential drawback: the music he recorded isn't at all plastic or sterile. All around a big thumbs up.