People’s confessions air in front of a million Toronto commuters

Confessions Underground is airing every 10 minutes on 300 TTC subway platform screens

Waiting for a subway in Toronto just got a little more interesting thanks to an art project that involves people confessing.

Laura Mendes and John Loerchner, co-directors of Labspace Studios, have been collecting confessions from people and on Monday these secrets started airing in front of a million Toronto commuters. It's an interactive display that's part of Art for Commuters and produced by Labspace Studios in association with Pattison Onestop.

"We've been really surprised with how many people are willing to talk to us. We were afraid it wasn't going to work at all and people weren't going to say anything, but it's been quite the opposite," says Loerchner to Yahoo! Canada News, who noted the vast majority of people were not interested in coming into the booth. "Everybody has secrets and we all have some that we should be talking about..that we do need to talk about."

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Mendes says there is a misconception people are participating because they are exhibitionists, but she says people are participating because they are looking for a way to get things out.

People know what they are saying isn't going to be a secret any more and Mendes says there is obviously a reason they are sharing them. People made their confessions in private and their names are not revealed on the screen, but their faces are.

"All we ask is that it's honest and sincere," says Mendes. "It can be embarrassing, it can be personal, as long as it's honest."

To get the confessions, the two took a booth with a camera inside to different Toronto neighbourhoods and asked people if they wanted to go in the booth and make a confession. Sometimes people asked them if they could go inside.

The directors took the booth outside of Toronto to Montreal, Buffalo and Chicago to see if people would answer differently knowing it was only being shown on Toronto transit. They found people confessed the same way no matter where they were.

Some of the confessions include

"I love my cat more than my boyfriend..."
"I still have a secret obsession with my ex and I'm engaged..."
"I wet the bed until I was thirteen years old..."
"My confession is I fart when I get nervous..."

"We've had very emotional ones," says Mendes. "A woman in her 60s for the first time ever confesses she gave up a child for adoption when she was 16. She left the booth very emotional, but very happy to get that off her chest finally. She just never had a way to do it."

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Loerchner says that for many of the topics he thinks it would be very difficult to break the ice and start that conversation face-to-face, but it's made less difficult behind the lens. He believes people will have these conversations in person down the road.

The project was created by Loerchner and Mendes after they were approached by Sharon Switzer, the arts and programs curator for Pattison OneStop, the company that runs the screens at TTC station.

Mendes and Loerchner wanted to do something more than just showing images and wanted to find something that was interactive and would connect with people even though it's a video without sound.

"Somebody who is on the subway platform viewing it has this emotional attachment or can identify with the person [in the video]," said Loerchner. "It's very human and very connected to the person who is watching."

Previously, the co-directors have ask people about their top five worries. As artists, their goal is to take art out of the gallery and make it accessible to everyone.

The project started running Monday and will be shown every 10 minutes on screens in 60 station until July 15. If this goes well, they are hoping to expand the project to other cities.

(Yahoo! Canada News photo of Mendes and Loerchner watching a confession at King Station in Toronto)

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