Today, two contrasting, and yet similar ideas. One is accidentally absurd, the other purposeful.
First, look at Kohler’s new Numi toilet. It’s a glorious exaltation of a moment that is simply not engineered for such glory—it’s an objet d’arte upon which you rest your big fat tired overprivileged ass, and take a dump.
There are vents for your feet, in case your tootsies are cold. There’s an mp3 player and entertainment system, in case you’re so constipated from a rich, red-meat based diet that it takes you more than five minutes to take care of things.
This is an actual object, for sale. I can go to a supply house three miles from my house and get one. I have the space for it on my credit card, too. I could exalt myself to be the littlest king of my world with a really simple installation. Look at the main portion of the sitelet to get the full extent of how vain a person who buys this must seem to be.
Let’s contrast this absurd, somewhat-functional object with an absurd piece clearly more engineered for meaning in its nonsense. This is Gloria, by Allora and Calzadilla on display at the Venice Biennale. It’s astounding in its simplicity and horror.
On top, we have a clear vision of how most Americans would like to view themselves. We are fit, we are able, we are measuring our results and improving ourselves. On the bottom, we have that same vision, filtered through any of the countries we’ve been at constant war with for the last decade. In the middle, the friction between the two ideas.
Enjoy your latte.
Updated, 6/8/2011: here’s more of Gloria.