Music and Torture Event


Bard Human Rights Project held a one-day conference in conjunction with the opening of, and took place at, Olafur Eliasson’s “Parliament of Reality” installation. The daylong event included lectures from numerous speakers involved with torture and music related initiatives:


Chloe Davies works for the legal charity, Reprieve, which began the project Zero dB (zero decibels) in order to ban the use of loud music like the “Sesame Street” theme, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen and Eminem as a part of torture tactics. She spoke on the use of music torture and how it has the ability to strip away the “last sanctuary you had in your mind.”


David Peisner is a writer for SPIN Magazine. His lecture was titled: “Bring The Noise: How music found its way into American interrogation booths.”


John Hamilton is a professor of Comparative Literature and has taught at New York University and Harvard University. “Torture as an Instrument of Music” (on the brazen bull of Phalaris).


Thomas Levine is an Associate Professor of German at Princeton University and teaches media theory and history, cultural theory, intellectual history, and aesthetics. He gave a lecture on the “Diabolus in Musica: A Playdoyer for Painful Sounds.”


Branden Joseph is the Frank Gallipoli Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at Columbia University and specializes in post-War American and European art focusing particularly on those individuals and practices that cross medium and disciplinary boundaries between visual art, music, and film. He spoke on the topic of “Biomusic.”


Mark Danner, the Chase Professor of Foreign Affairs, Politics, and Humanities gave the keynote address at the event.


Suzanne Cusick, Professor of Music at New York University led the roundtable discussion.