"Amplified W.C." was a pair of sound installations located in the men's and women's rest rooms in the Nam June Paik Art Centre, located in the suburbs of Seoul, in the summer and fall of 2009. It was a tribute to Nam June Paik's work "Prepared W.C.", from Paik's first solo exhibition in 1963.
"Amplified W.C." involved the interaction of two different feedback loops in each of the two rest rooms, contact microphones on the ventilation ducts, small audio monitors, exposed cables and tin foil. Presumably the work ran perpetually and without manual intervention; the 20:02 presented here thus documents a minute snippet of the quasi-random output of the work over its entire duration. It is, if you like, a very very small piece of the O.S.T. (Specifically, the O.S.T. of the men's room; whatever happened in the woman's is not represented here, and remains a secret between the mirror, the walls, and the floortiles.)
My interest immediately picked up upon reading that this artefact is as Hong Chulki sez in the notes "an unedited and unprocessed recording of the sound installation as improvised noise without improviser". I rather favour the decoupling of noise generation from the expressionistic determinism of a performance; I'd rather imagine the music as being played by the room, the building, the city, the planet. Overbearing musical and dramatic gestures get in the way. That's just me, though. I'm also enchanted by the innate contradiction of an improvising musician releasing a cd-r of non-improvised music. He didn't even feel the need to jam over the top of it. Imagine the mess someone could've made doing such a thing. For shame.
As to the actual sound of the t'ing, it's all abstract grainy twitching and shortcircuits and bursts of electron flow, underscored by beautiful clean fresh untainted ring and hum tones. The two different but intertwined feedbackerisms are tangible. You can even -- or imagine you can -- hear them interact with each others. (I kept thinking of Ghostbusters: "There's something very important I forgot to tell you. Don't cross the streams... It would be... bad".) You can even begin to convince yourself that you can hear the rise and fall, the ebb and flow, the narrative arc, the auto-structuralism of real tru-skool improv.
Hong Chulki is at the forefront of South Korea's new improvised music scene. Along with Choi Joonyong, he is a pioneering member of Seoul's first noise band, Astronoise. His primary instrument is the turntable although he is also involved in film music and sound installation. On top of that he runs the Seoul-based experimental label, Balloon and Needle. "Amplified W.C." is an accomplished memento of what must have been an excellent installation. The naïve package decoration is also top-notch. 9/10 -- Young Savage (14 April, 2010)