The Null Device

Modern art as torture

During the Spanish civil war, anarchists inspired by surrealist and abstract art developed torture cells based on non-figurative art and the psychological properties of shapes and colours:

Beds were placed at a 20 degree angle, making them near-impossible to sleep on, and the floors of the 6ft by 3ft cells was scattered with bricks and other geometric blocks to prevent prisoners from walking backwards and forwards, according to the account of Laurencic's trial. The only option left to prisoners was staring at the walls, which were curved and covered with mind-altering patterns of cubes, squares, straight lines and spirals which utilised tricks of colour, perspective and scale to cause mental confusion and distress. Lighting effects gave the impression that the dizzying patterns on the wall were moving.

The surrealistic cells were used to torture Francoist Fascists, as well as (of course) members of rival leftist factions and splinter groups. (via Charlie's Diary)

(If they built something like that these days, mind you, they could probably pass it off as the latest clubbing sensation and charge admission for it.)

There are 2 comments on "Modern art as torture":

Posted by: Ritchie http:// Mon Jan 27 23:31:47 2003

Someone should base an episode of Changing Rooms on this concept.

"Do you like what we did with Timmy's bedroom?"

Posted by: dj http:// Thu Jan 30 02:00:47 2003

I take it that we'll be accepting the Show Trials of other authoritarian regimes as legitimate evidence soon too? Strange also that with all the animosity involved with the Spanish Civil War, that this comes to light in the 21st century. It's all a bit surreal!

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