Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sesame Street in Guantanamo Bay

Al Jazeera reports that the songs of award-winning Sesame Street composer Christopher Cerf have been used to torture detainees in Guantanamo.

I guess it goes to show how meaning and affect are contextual, and songs that are unequivocally joyful and redeeming in one context, can be weaponized and effectively torture in another (hooded prisoners, tied up, wearing headphones blaring the same songs for hours or days on end).

In other words, we artists are in the same boat as scientists and technologists: once we release our creations into the world, we can't control the ways they're used by others – nor, ultimately, the meaning that other people will find & make once our creations are out of our hands.