Renditions, 2011. Brick, mortar, mixed media, sound equipment, Sesame Street Main Theme, Bodies, The Real Slim Shady, Babylon, We Will Rock You, Raspberry Beret, March of the Pigs, I Love You, Dirrty, America, Killing in the Name, Born in the U.S.A., Fuck Your God, Enter Sandman. [CD forthcoming.]


Rendition(s) is very loud music in a gallery space sealed with a brick wall. The viewer cannot access the space but can hear sound coming from within. The music is sometimes abstract and sometimes recognizable as a playlist of songs one might hear on contemporary radio. Detainees have testified that these and other songs were used as instruments of "enhanced interrogation" in the United States War on Terror. The piece examines the role of sound and music in state-sponsored torture, focusing particularly on connections among sensory overload, sensory deprivation, and experiences of displacement. Here, the sound is processed through the material and space.  It’s a piece to be seen, heard, and felt.  The physicality of the sound (and the wall as both a vehicle for sound and conceptual frame) is important as a conductor of political and cultural information.  The piece attempts to re-inscribe the meaning and sound of the popular culture.  In doing so, it presents popular music an instrument of torture and as sound art.

"From the end of 2003 they introduced the music, and it became even worse. Before that, you could try and focus on something else.  It makes you feel like you are going mad. You lose the plot, and it's very scary to think that you might go crazy because of all the music, because of the loud noise, and because after a while you don't hear the lyrics at all, all you hear is heavy banging.  It sort of removes you from you. You can no longer formulate your own thoughts when you're in an environment like that."   
 -Ruhal Ahmed