Ever wondered what Miki in Tokyo thought about whilst washing in the shower this morning? Has she even had a shower? Have you, in all those hours spent “busy” at your desk, pondered on what the average Shanghai inhabitant eats for breakfast? Or if people in Germany make others happy on a regular basis?
Globetrotting German artist Nica Junker can satisfy your voyeuristic cravings with her latest project “Silent Neighbours”. Simply, she placed a photo booth in the cosmopolitan environment of the coffee shop in locations in Japan, China and Europe. Anybody can take a snapshot of themselves and fill out an E-Postcard answering five questions regarding their daily routine. The questions are:
1. What did you think in the shower today?
2. What did you have for breakfast?
3. Where are you going right now?
4. How did you make someone happy today?
5. What are your plans for tonight?
Whilst this can satisfy your nosey instincts about what people get up to, it also addresses the more serious conditions of our modern society: isolation, lack of direct communication. In an increasingly mobile and communication-enabled world, we have simultaneously become more isolated. Developments in personal technology mean that, despite being on a train in central Tokyo, or in the red light district of Amsterdam, we can remain in our own personal bubble, thus being deafened to the world surrounding us.
“Silent Neighbours” uses technology to open our ears to the everyday experiences of the global community in a localised sense, the people all around us. We can realise that although there are differences in detail, everybody is “normal”. An obvious statement you may think, but something that is surprisingly fascinating, when you realise that nearly everybody sings in the shower, or wakes up and thinks “Noooooo work” — and that most people, regardless of the location, want to get home, put the TV on, and have something quick for dinner. It makes the normal fascinating and what is silenced audible.
The friction between overriding similarity and differences in detail creates a fascinating space. If you pop along to the Tokyo location, in Café Combine, Nakameguro, you will learn about how a happy couple achieved said bliss (…she bought him a iced coffee, he bought her a car). And the girl who had “noodles and chocolate heated in chocolate” for breakfast, and who plans to go home and have dog for dinner. Or you can learn about the girl who thinks about changing her city, XiangXiang, in the shower….and that a surprising amount of people have left the house without washing!
“Silent Neighbours” is running at Cafe Combine, Nakameguro, until March 14.
To learn more about the project and see past E-Postcards from around the world, visit the official website.