Waterboarding Thrill Ride at Coney Island
Artist Steve Powers is causing quite the stir. He recently opened “The Waterboarding Thrill Ride” in the Coney Island arcade. It’s not an actual ride, but an exhibit that uses robots to simulate waterboarding. People walking by can pay a dollar and watch the robots come to life. I’m curious as to how many of you have gone to see this, and if you found it as disturbing as it sounds?
The artist, Steve Powers, opened “The Waterboarding Thrill Ride” on Saturday in the Coney Island arcade in Brooklyn. An animatronic diorama that depicts a prisoner being waterboarded, it is being presented by Creative Time, the public art organization, as part of an initiative called “Democracy in America: The National Campaign.” The piece, which occupies a former photo booth redesigned as a jail cell on West 12th Street in Coney Island, will be on view to the public throughout the summer.
If you climb up a few cinderblock steps to the small window, you can look through the bars at a scene meant to invoke a Guantánamo Bay interrogation. A lifesize figure in a dark sweatshirt, the hood drawn low over his face, leans over another figure in an orange jumpsuit, his face covered by a towel and his body strapped down on a tilted surface.
Feed a dollar into a slot, the lights go on, and Black Hood pours water up Orange Jumpsuit’s nose and mouth while Orange Jumpsuit convulses against his restraints for 15 seconds.
Powers says his aim is to provoke people into thinking about the interrogation technique.
"Robot waterboarding became a way of exploring the issue without doing any harm," he told The New York Times. "It's putting a unique experience on the table. And it doesn't take a great leap of the imagination to look in there and say: 'That's really what's going on? That's crazy."'
On Aug. 15, Powers says he and a few other men plan to subject themselves to the real thing: They'll have themselves waterboarded by a professional trained in interrogation techniques.