A retrospective detailing the intensive work of London-based research agency Forensic Architecture is now on view at the Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College (MOAD MDC). Forensic Architecture: True to Scale came online last week at the same time news broke that its studio director was excluded from entering the United States for the show’s debut night. Eyal Weizman, the founder of Forensic Architecture, published an open letter detailing his visa denial by the Department of Homeland Security ahead of the Miami event. According to The New York Times, Weizman first received the news via email and when he tried to apply for another visa application, an interviewer at the U.S. Embassy said: “an algorithm had identified a security threat that was related to him.” The multidisciplinary collective’s work, wrote AN’s Matt Shaw, involves investigating sensitive human rights violations around the world and showing its findings in spatial visualizations such as 3D animations, virtual reality, and digital mapping. Weizman was offered the chance to “speed up the process” for obtaining a visa ahead of the MOAD exhibition, but he refused to provide names of the people he works with or places he’s recently traveled. “Working in human rights means being in contact with vulnerable communities, activists and experts, and being entrusted with sensitive information,” he wrote in a statement. “These networks are the lifeline of any investigative work. I am alarmed that relations among our colleagues, stakeholders, and staff are being targeted by the U.S. government as security threats.” Curated by Sophie Landres, the investigations shown at MOAD cover a range of events over the last decade that largely relate to state transgressions in the Middle East. Two projects, however, are dedicated to events in Venezuela and Chicago. Forensic Architecture’s work breaking down the police shooting of Harith Augustus in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood was already been previewed at the 2019 Chicago Biennial, but unlike the fall showcase, the Miami exhibition will feature all six videos produced by the group in partnership with Invisible Institute. Each video overlaps in six different time scales during and following the shooting. Though Forensic Architecture has widely exhibited its work, most recently in New York for a short time during the controversial 2019 Whitney Biennial, the Miami showcase is the firm’s first survey in the United States. Two years ago, a video produced in collaboration with The New York Times won an Emmy for reconstructing a chemical attack in Al Lataminah, Syria, in 3D. The award-winning result, One Building, One Bomb, is included in the MOAD exhibition. Another investigation on view is a never-before-seen project co-produced by the museum called Hebron: Testimonies of Violence (2018-20). It dives into the ways in which virtual reality can assist in compelling witness testimony and recreating a crime scene, according to the exhibition press release. For the project, the team modeled the death of a Palestinian man killed by an Israeli soldier in the occupied city of Hebron. Forensic Architecture: True to Scale will be on view at Miami Dade College’s Freedom Tower at 600 Biscayne Blvd. through September 27.
Posts tagged with "Eyal Weizman":
London-based research collective Forensic Architecture, known for its use of architectural, spatial, and technological analysis to uncover state and corporate violence, opens its first major U.S. exhibition today at Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design (MOAD). However, as the collective’s founder, Eyal Weizman was preparing to fly to Miami from his home of London for the opening, he received an email from the U.S. Embassy informing him that his visa had been revoked and he would not be allowed to travel to the United States.
When Weizman went to apply for another visa, an interviewer at the Embassy told him that an “algorithm” had identified him as a security threat due to people he had interacted with, places he had traveled recently, or an unidentified combination of the two. When given the opportunity to “speed up the process” by giving names he felt might have been the cause for setting off alarms, Weizman refused.
Here is the full statement, which will be read by his partner professor Ines Weizman at the MOAD tonight, and was sent to AN by Weizman via email.
Today (February 19th) I was meant to be here with you at the Museum of Art and Design in Miami to open Forensic Architecture’s first major survey exhibition in the United States, True to Scale.But on Wednesday, February 12th, two days before my scheduled flight to the U.S, I was informed in an email from the U.S. Embassy that my visa-waiver (ESTA) had been revoked and that I was not authorised to travel to the United States. The revocation notice stated no reason and the situation gave me no opportunity to appeal or to arrange for an alternative visa that would allow me be here.It was also a family trip. My wife Prof. Ines Weizman, who was scheduled to give talks in the U.S. herself, and our two children traveled a day before I was supposed to go. They were stopped at JFK airport in New York where Ines was separated from our children and interrogated by immigration officials for two and a half hours before being allowed entry.The following day I went to the U.S. Embassy in London to apply for a visa. In my interview the officer informed me that my authorization to travel had been revoked because the “algorithm” had identified a security threat. He said he did not know what had triggered the algorithm but suggested that it could be something I was involved in, people I am or was in contact with, places to which I had traveled (had I recently been in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, or Somalia or met their nationals?), hotels at which I stayed, or a certain pattern of relations among these things. I was asked to supply the Embassy with additional information, including fifteen years of travel history, in particular where I had gone and who had paid for it. The officer said that Homeland Security’s investigators could assess my case more promptly if I supplied the names of anyone in my network whom I believed might have triggered the algorithm. I declined to provide this information.This much we know: we are being electronically monitored for a set of connections—the network of associations, people, places, calls, and transactions—that make up our lives. Such network analysis poses many problems, some of which are well known. Working in human rights means being in contact with vulnerable communities, activists and experts, and being entrusted with sensitive information. These networks are the lifeline of any investigative work. I am alarmed that relations among our colleagues, stakeholders, and staff are being targeted by the U.S. government as security threats.This incident exemplifies—albeit in a far less intense manner and at a much less drastic scale—critical aspects of the “arbitrary logic of the border” that our exhibition seeks to expose. The racialized violations of the rights of migrants at the U.S. southern border are of course much more serious and brutal than the procedural difficulties a U.K. national may experience, and these migrants have very limited avenues for accountability when contesting the violence of the U.S. border.As I would have announced in today’s lecture, this exhibition is an occasion to launch a joint investigation with local groups into human rights violations in the Homestead detention center in Florida, not far from here, where migrant children have been held in what activists describe as “regimented, austere and inhumane conditions”.In our practice, exhibitions are treated as alternative forums for accountability, ways of informing the public about serious human rights violations. Importantly, they are also opportunities to share with local activists and community groups the methods and techniques we have assembled over years of work in the field.To that effect, this exhibition includes an investigation into a CIA drone strike in Pakistan that was presented by a UN Special Rapporteur in the General Assembly; an analysis of the Chicago police killing of a barber that lead to an investigation by the mayor and the city’s police department; and an inquiry into the Israeli bombing of Rafah in Gaza that informed the International Criminal Court’s recent decision to open an investigation into the possibility of Israeli war crimes in occupied Palestine—all alongside other investigations we have conducted with communities and human rights collaborators in Germany, Venezuela, the Mediterranean, and Syria.These works seek to demonstrate that we can invert the forensic gaze and turn it against the actors—police, militaries, secret services, border agencies—that usually seek to monopolise information. But in employing the counter-forensic gaze one is also exposed to higher level monitoring by the very state agencies investigated.I would like to thank all those who showed enormous commitment to make this exhibition possible, especially Sophie Landres, Francisco Canestri, Gladys Hernando, Nicole Martinez and Rina Carvajal from MOAD, members of Forensic Architecture here and there, friends who helped through this process, Ines for reading this statement, and you all for coming.Mostly though I would like to thank our partner communities who continue to resist violent state and corporate practices and who are increasingly exposed to the regime of “security algorithms”—a form of governance that aims to map, monitor, and—all too often—police their movements and their struggles for safety and justice.
AN talks to Eyal Weizman about tech in truth-telling ahead of Forensic Architecture’s first U.S. survey
Forensic Architecture has garnered a significant reputation within the field of architecture (they had a major showing at the most recent Chicago Architecture Biennial) and beyond for their work reconstructing violent events perpetrated by state actors and others using architectural tools and emerging technologies. The collective’s work has been displayed everywhere from the courthouse to major art exhibitions, including during this past year’s Whitney Biennial. The video One Building, One Bomb, co-produced with The New York Times, won an Emmy this past year, and in 2018 they were also nominated for the United Kingdom’s prestigious Turner Prize. This month, Forensic Architecture, which is based out of Goldsmiths, University of London, will have its first major U.S. survey; Forensic Architecture: True to Scale will open on February 20 at the Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College. Ahead of the Miami exhibition, AN spoke with Forensic Architecture founder Eyal Weizman to discuss the changes of the past decade, the power of technology, and the importance of forensics in a “post-truth” era. Drew Zeiba: Forensic architecture began a decade ago. How has the project changed and how have the tools you use evolved since then? Eyal Weizman: When we started around 2010, it was the beginning of the Arab Spring and the really heartbreaking civil war that came in its wake. Those particular sets of conflicts had a particular texture to them. They happened in an environment that had a lot of mobile phones and in the areas where there's internet connectivity, and where the government’s ability to shut down the internet was not always successful. We started being in an environment where increasingly you had more and more videos around incidents that we could map. It was also the early teens where at the time, in London great protest around tuition fees and then the big protest after the police killing of Mark Duggan in North London. This killing was during a period when police did not yet have dash cams. And ever since, we've seen the introduction of body cams and dash cams to police investigations. If you look today at the conflicts that are taking place, we have several thousand videos, hours long, broadcasting live as things are happening. The sheer media density requires us to use different technologies in order to bring accountability. We have recently developed machine vision and machine learning technologies that, working together with human researcher, can speed up the process of sieving through thousands and thousands and thousands of hours of content coming from confrontations with policing Hong Kong, for example. In relation to police violence, we have now concluded the investigation in Chicago [into the police killing of Harith Augustus] with full body cams available, several dash cams, a CCTV, etc. We are working in a much more media-saturated environment and need new tools like artificial intelligence to help us identify materials like our work on Warren Kanders that used machine learning. [Kanders is the ousted vice chairman of the board of the Whitney Museum, whose company Safariland sells tear gas used at the U.S.-Mexico border, in Gaza, and elsewhere, including in U.S. cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri.] We're creating virtual reality sites for witnesses to walk through the scene of the together with the psychologists and lawyer and protection, but can also recall events. And we are trying to be at cutting edge of technologies that would help social movement and civil society to invert the balance of epistemological power, against the monopoly of knowledge that states have over information in battlefields and in crime scenes. The abundance of images also has to do with the increasing presence of surveillance—including by CCTV cameras and police body cams, as you mention. How can architectural and technological tools invert the power relationship embedded in some of these commonplace image-making tools? Forensics have to be in the hands of the people. Forensics was developed as a state tools, as a form of state power, as a police tool. But when the police is the agency that dispenses violence and the agency that's investigating it, we have a problem. We absolutely need to be able to have independent groups holding police to account. And what we have is our creativity and we can effectively mobilize and make more of much fewer bits of data and image, because we're working aesthetically and we work socially with those independent groups in producing evidence. We socialize the production of evidence, we make it a collective social practice that involves the communities that are experiencing state violence continuously. At the same time, Forensic Architecture often works in places where there is seemingly a limited amount of the evidence or data that investigators typically rely upon, or with evidence that is biased. Police body cams show the officer’s perspective only, for example. Your work is coming at a time that people are describing as “post-truth.” How does the work of Forensic Architecture fit in to this political context? The very nature of what we call investigative aesthetics is based on working with weak signals and with partial data. You need to fill that gap with a relation between those points you have, sort of like stars in a dark sky. You see very few dots and we need to actually see how they can support the probability of something to have occurred. And any investigative work that comes from the point of view of civil society is both about demolishing and building. So we need to use our training as critical scholars in deconstructing police statements, or military statements taken by secret services or the government—and we need to take those ruins, those scattered bits of media flotsam that exist and build something else with it. There’s always demolition and rebuilding that takes place. That is very structural to our work. Right now, the mistrust in public institutions in the political sphere, In the so-called post-truth era, that trust is not being replaced. Those that tell us not to believe anymore in science and in think tanks and in experts are not building a new epistemology in its stead. They're simply demolishing it. Rhetoric replaces verification. What we do similarly to them is we are questioning state given truths. We are attacking those temples of power and knowledge, but we attempt to replace them with a much more imminent form of evidence production that socializes the production of that evidence.
As we turn the corner into summer, it’s time to kick back and dive into a book, whether you’re at the beach, drink in hand, or stuck inside an air-conditioned office. A suite of books about architecture, planning, and urbanism are slated to drop in the coming months, and AN has compiled a list of our favorite page-turners. They range from behind-the-scenes looks into how Disneyland was planned and built, to essays on urbanism, and mellow photo collections of a modernist California. What Goes Up: The Right and Wrongs to the City Michael Sorkin Verso $24.72 In this collection of essays, architecture writer (and AN contributor) Michael Sorkin tracks the conversion of New York City into a playground for starchitects, starting with Bloomberg and moving into the present day. But if What Goes Up has an antagonist, it’s most likely embodied in now-President Trump, who Sorkin views as a product of everything wrong with development in New York. The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids Alexandra Lange Bloomsbury Publishing $22.77 – June 12, 2018 release How does design shape our formative years? What did Frank Lloyd Wright and Buckminster Fuller play with when they were growing up? What distinguishes a “good” toy from a “bad” toy, and who decides which is which? Through equal parts history and case studies, Lange deftly explains how children went from playing with blocks to Minecraft, and how the play environment shapes a child’s formative years. Modernism's Visible Hand: Architecture and Regulation in America Michael Osman University of Minnesota Press $30.00 When did the modern age begin? The advent of refrigeration and climate control allowed for the mass distribution of food, the rise of tall buildings, and new advances in occupancy comfort. With so many more options for controlling the interior environment, architects took on a much more important role; and as Osman argues, played a major part in introducing the regulations that would standardize the centuries to come. Landscape of Faith: Interventions Along the Mexican Pilgrimage Route Tatiana Bilbao, photos by Iwan Baan Lars Müller Publishers $32.25 Two million pilgrims annually travel the treacherous mountain path through Jalisco, Mexico to reach a shrine to the Virgin of Talpa. Can a path, typically considered a liminal space, have its own vernacular, culture, and history? In Landscape of Faith, Bilbao and Baan explore the temporary and permanent structures, institutions, and landscapes that pilgrims must pass on their 110-mile journey. Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability Eyal Weizman MIT Press $35.95 With Forensic Architecture’s shortlisting for the prestigious Turner Prize, the research group/activists/art collective has gotten more media attention than ever. In this recently released monograph, founder Eyal Weizman details how group uses a mixture of architecture, forensic science, and crowdsourced information to reconstruct crimes scenes and obfuscated timelines. Forensic Architecture includes a mix of case studies as well as step-by-step details into how the group conducts an investigation. Walt Disney's Disneyland Chris Nichols TASCHEN $50.00 –September 12, 2018 release Disneyland represents a dream-like ideal for many, but how was the city-within-a-city actually designed and constructed? Nichols pulls back the curtain on Walt Disney’s little-seen inspirations, sketches, original documentation and more from the park’s conception. The design and buildout, opening, and the continued life of the park ever since are presented in context alongside a California that was changing around it. California Captured: Mid-Century Modern Architecture, Marvin Rand Pierluigi Serraino, Emily Bills, Sam Lubell Phaidon Press $40.19 Keep the California vibes going with California Captured, an index of photographer Marvin Rand’s mid-century work. Rand captured photos of the modernist masters at their peak (including buildings by Craig Ellwood, Louis Kahn, and Frank Lloyd Wright) and exported the “Mid-Century California” aesthetic all over the world. The Architecture of Closed Worlds: Or, What Is the Power of Shit? Lydia Kallipoliti Lars Müller Publishers and Storefront for Art and Architecture $32.20 - August 28, 2018 release Closed systems, whether they be a submarine or an office, are designed as self-sustaining environments. In The Architecture of Closed Worlds, Kallipoliti tracks the evolution of closed environment structures from 1928 to the present through 39 case studies of cutting edge prototypes. The relevance of the enclosed space extends into sustainable design and ecological concerns, as designing a self-sustaining system often forces architects and designers to expand their environmental consciousness. Every book on this list was selected independently by AN‘s team of editors. If you buy something via the embedded links, AN will earn a commission.
An architectural research agency devoted to the innovative investigations of catastrophes and violence has just launched an inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, a June 2017 blaze that engulfed a West London social housing complex and killed 71 people and injured 70 more. Forensic Architecture put out a call on Twitter today, asking witnesses to send in videos of the conflagration to kick off a "a long-term and open-ended" inquiry into the incident. Experts contend that the fire was hastened by the facade's cladding and highly flammable polystyrene insulation. Forensic Architecture, directed by architect Eyal Weizman, is a collaboration between architects, computer specialists, journalists, filmmakers, scientists, and others, is based at Goldsmiths, University of London. Far from a mere video content farm, the group uses its resources to illuminate the inner workings of conflict situations, often taking amateur footage as a basis for their analysis. Its findings are deployed in courts and human rights reports, among other fora. Forensic Architecture took to Twitter to encourage witnesses to send in their movies of the event:
Grenfell Tower, a 24-story Brutalist building in North Kensington, was designed by Clifford Wearden and Associates and completed in the 1970s. Forensic Architecture is compiling the videos, determining the orientation of the (usually) smartphone-wielding videographer, and projecting them onto a 3-D model of the building. Would-be contributors can submit their footage, anonymously or not, here. The news comes on the heels of an announcement that London's Adjaye Associates, along with five other firms, have been selected to share ideas for the future of Lancaster West Estate, the municipal housing complex that hosted Grenfell Tower. If an architect is selected and everything goes according to plan, work on the project is slated to begin in 2019.
Today we are launching a long-term and open-ended project on the #Grenfell Tower fire. Support the project, learn more, and share with us your video footage at https://t.co/WFzcUA5gRZ pic.twitter.com/av3uBZsYAZ— ForensicArchitecture (@ForensicArchi) March 21, 2018
On Friday, December 4th—while hundreds of officials gathered in Paris for the COP21 UN climate change conference—scholars, historians, scientists, architects, and designers came to Columbia GSAPP’s Avery Hall for a similarly urgent conference, “Climate Change and the Scales of Environment.” The urgency lies in the fact that buildings are accountable for approximately half of energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the United States today. At the December 4 conference, the range of experts discussed this issue across multiple scales—ranging from a single molecule to the planet as a whole. At what scale should architects engage? And how do the different scales tie together? Dean Amale Andraos explained to AN that using these disciplinary questions of scale to enter a cross-disciplinary discussion on climate-change kept the conversation focused.