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A Haunting Narrative
Cardiff and Miller do seem to have conceived Pandemonium as a program of core episodes, each with distinct narrative associations.  Torchia, who observed the work in progress, charts six movements: 
1: The first begins with “what sounds like a knock at the door . . . [placing] the listener in the role of a third, silent party, perhaps a prison guard, monitoring a coded conversation.”  The artists’ promotional materials encourage this communicative interpretation: “Tip tap tip tap. Is that the sound of dripping or is it someone in a cell tapping a code on the wall?” 
2: Torchia delineates a second episode in the free-form sequence of environmental sounds that underscore the entropic conditions of the building-as-ruin.  Diehl described the sounds that follow as a single onslaught: “. . . fits of rhythmic, almost musical sequences . . . [that] resemble African percussion and climax in total cacophony—pandemonium—a prison riot.” 
3: Torchia charts two militant passages bisected by a dance beat: “A violent explosion of gunshots . . . proceeds to a dirge-like march composed of unison blows” . . .
4: . . . followed by “the most musical and jubilant passage of the piece, a beat that sounds as if it were sampled from a rave” . . .
5: . . . until at last, “there is no mistaking the uproar of a mounting riot . . . a frightening chaos, alarming in its scale and amplitude . . . ” 
6: Torchia counts a sixth and final episode in the “conspicuous pause” before Pandemonium begins again, a prolonged silence that makes indigenous noises audible. 
On its surface, Pandemonium set up an auditory illusion that ghosts were haunting the space. Torchia’s episodes help to crystallize a story line borne out by allusive percussive textures and the associative power of the penitentiary. Culture blogger Libby Rosof reported, “It wasn’t hard to imagine a story line for the noises—enforced marches, pounding heartbeats, tapped communications and beaten frustrations.”  According to Diehl, “the sense that these are instruments wielded by ghosts is overwhelming . . . the piece is a palpable evocation of the boredom, frustration and irresistible need to communicate that were no doubt felt by the unlucky participants in this idealistic penal experiment.”  Pandemonium played with the same powers of suggestion that draw dozens of “paranormal investigation teams” and television programs like America’s Ghost Hunters to Eastern State Penitentiary every year.  The museum itself exploits the narrative of haunting in an annual Halloween fundraiser. 
In her essay “Hearing History: Storytelling and Collective Subjectivity in Cardiff and Miller’s Pandemonium” published in 2008, art historian Adair Rounthwaite reads Pandemonium - through Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975) and Walter Benjamin’s “The Storyteller” (1936) - as an attempt to, “[use] sound to create a new narrative for the prison’s history . . . [to] reactivate . . . and ‘actualize [it] in the present.”  Rounthwaite argues that Pandemonium makes visitors self-conscious of the limits of vision-dominated efforts to understand its history. Pandemonium’s demand for phenomenological engagement reorients visitors. It “hijacks . . . [the] process of narrative association . . . that occurs naturally when entering the cellblock”—we can presume she refers here to the notion of haunting—and transforms it into a collective, aural exploration “that makes the story a part of [the listener’s] own experience.”  To Rounthwaite, Pandemonium’s robotic beaters are insensible witnesses of the unknowability of history, which is paradoxically dependent on acts of witnessing to be absorbed into collective consciousness.  While I agree that Pandemonium invites physical engagement with the site and triggers a sense of interconnection, I propose that Pandemonium’s particular uses of sound do not function to reactivate lost histories of Eastern State Penitentiary so much as to underscore its force and potentialities in the present.
“Real Ghost Sightings,” Eastern State Penitentiary, accessed March 3, 2015, www.easternstate.org/halloween/ghosts.
“‘Pandemonium’ at Eastern State Penitentiary.” YouTube video, 01:19, posted by ‘tagjim,’ June 4, 2006, www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYMl-cY25Nw. A video of Pandemonium uploaded to YouTube in June 2006 has elicited more than 8,700 views and a string of comments based on assumptions that it purports to evidence paranormal activity.