Author(s): Eyal Weizman
In recent years, the group Forensic Architecture began using novel research methods to undertake a series of investigations into human rights abuses. Today, the group provides crucial evidence for international courts and works with a wide range of activist groups, NGOs, Amnesty International, and the UN. Forensic Architecture has not only shed new light on human rights violations and state crimes across the globe, but has also created a new form of investigative practice that bears its name. The group uses architecture as an optical device to investigate armed conflicts and environmental destruction, as well as to cross-reference a variety of evidence sources, such as new media, remote sensing, material analysis, witness testimony, and crowd-sourcing. In Forensic Architecture, Eyal Weizman, the group's founder, provides, for the first time, an in-depth introduction to the history, practice, assumptions, potentials, and double binds of this practice. The book includes an extensive array of images, maps, and detailed documentation that records the intricate work the group has performed. Traversing multiple scales and durations, the case studies in this volume include the analysis of the shrapnel fragments in a room struck by drones in Pakistan, the reconstruction of a contested shooting in the West Bank, the architectural recreation of a secret Syrian detention center from the memory of its survivors, a blow-by-blow account of a day-long battle in Gaza, and an investigation of environmental violence and climate change in the Guatemalan highlands and elsewhere. Weizman's Forensic Architecture, stunning and shocking in its critical narrative, powerful images, and daring investigations, presents a new form of public truth, technologically, architecturally, and aesthetically produced. The practice calls for a transformative politics in which architecture as a field of knowledge and a mode of interpretation exposes and confronts ever-new forms of state violence and secrecy.
The investigative work of Eyal Weizman and his colleagues at Forensic Architecture is truly remarkable, breaking novel theoretical ground while actively supporting struggles for justice. Again and again, landscapes of power, violence, resistance and ecological stress are transformed in stunning new ways. Among the many revelations in these pages is a new mapping of the connections between climate-change, drought, drones and armed conflict. These are powerful analytic tools that will be indispensable to the construction of a new human rights framework. -- Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine In many respects Forensic Architecture is the current reincarnation of Soviet Russia's Factography, a collective enterprise that, in the 1920's and 30's, was geared towards the construction of facts, as opposed to merely documenting them. The difference between both endeavors, each similarly brazen in taking advantage of unprecedented advances of media technology, is that the facts that Forensic Architecture wishes to (re)construct are for the most part acts of state violence that the perpetrating state deliberately conceals. Those facts are registered in buildings (or traces thereof), which Weizman and his team equate both to photographs (sensors) and to tools for decoding other sensors (such as the clouds of smoke hovering over a bombed city). Analyzing the vast bank of images provided by social media in conflict zones through a computation of differential parallaxes, Forensic Architecture is fast becoming the most efficient visual machine against the suppression of evidence by the authors of crimes against humanity. Recent history tells us that its work will be evermore needed. -- Yve-Alain Bois In a world where environmental crimes are increasingly linked to human rights violations, Forensic Architecture has become an essential practice. Weizman and his team have understood how the tools of science and architecture can influence and transform the juridical system. -- Baltasar Garzon, former Spanish investigating judge and president of the human rights foundation FIBGAR
Eyal Weizman is Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London and a Global Scholar at Princeton University. A founder of Forensic Architecture, he is also a founding member of the architectural collective DAAR in Beit Sahour/Palestine. His books include Mengele's Skull, The Least of All Possible Evils, and Hollow Land.