Gregory P. Garvey: The Smart Stall

  • ©,



    The Smart Stall


Creation Year:




Artist Statement:

    The Smart Stall challenges the aims of ubiquitous computing with the question: Will com­puters be with us no matter where we are? If consumers have told the talking car to shut up, who will tolerate the user­friendly bathroom fixture cheer­fully ma king suggestions or worse interrogating the user? What could be more inappropri­ate than a bathroom stall doing double duty as a telecommunica­tions interface where the user can look down into the bowl, see another user (looking as well), and hold a conversation across a local area network? Is no aspect of the human condition safe from the gratuitous intrusion of technological improvements?

    Motion sensors detect potential users passing by, and a bureau­cratic voice announces: “STAND IN LINE! SINGLE FILE AND NO TALKING!” Once a user walks into the stall and closes the latch, the deafening roar of a stadium-sized crowd fills the environment. A shrill voice commands the user to lift the seat and barks additional instructions. The docile user looks down into the toilet bowl and sees another user through CU­SeeMe technology. The user can talk, or, if graffiti-minded, write on the white board section of the enclosure to post messages. When there is no other user, the head of a famous politician appears grafted onto a body of a fly and is video-projected onto the water in the toilet bowl squealing “HELP ME! HELP ME!” (In homage to the movie “The Fly”). When the user exits the stall, a status check is performed and a female voice admonishes the user to “PUT DOWN THE TOILET SEAT!”

Affiliation Where Artwork Was Created:

    Concordia University