Listening to Art in the bathroom--at the Guggenheim Museum!

The Audiophiliac finds amazing sound everywhere, even the bathroom at the Guggenheim Museum.

I was in the Level 5 bathroom at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, when I heard this amazing sound. Strange and beautiful music filled the one-person-at-a-time restroom, which I assumed was part of the Museum's "The Shapes of Space" show that runs through September 5. The music was pleasant enough, but there was something about the way the sound filled the bathroom that fascinated me. I could only locate one tiny speaker, up near the ceiling bouncing sound off the curved walls of the "D" shaped room. The sound was so ethereal, spacious, and calming, I didn't want to leave. Oh, and a tiny pool of video blue skies and greenery were projected onto the floor for my viewing pleasure.

Most art/sound installations leave me cold, mostly because they sound so lame, but the Guggenheim's bathroom was special. The piece, "Atmosphere & Instinct" (1998) was designed by Pipilotti Rist.

"Bleed" (2005), a rather bizarre sound installation by Banks Violette was planted outside the bathroom. The gothic piece consists of a 2.1 channel sound system playing ominously deep low-frequency tones and rumbling sounds. The work's black speakers are encrusted with salt that "spills" onto the floor, and a pile of shiny black shards is situated between the speakers. Yeah, it's very arty, but it also kind of works if you listen closely (the volume was too low for my taste).

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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