Rowan Moore of The Guardian speaks with Eyal Weizman, author of Forensic Architecture, about the mission of the organization from which the book originated, as well as an upcoming exhibit on the subject at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full article. An excerpt appears below.
“Forensic Architecture, whose work is going on show next month at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, is an agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London. The organisation’s founder and director is Eyal Weizman, a British-Israeli architect. Its primary mission is research, to “develop evidentiary systems in relation to specific cases”; in so doing, it acts as “an architectural detective agency”, working with NGOs and human rights lawyers to uncover facts that confound the stories told by police, military, states and corporations. “We think that architects need to be public figures,” says Weizman. “They should take positions, whatever they do. We map the most extreme and violent forms.”
“We’re building a new sub-discipline of architecture,” he adds. “We just have to figure it out.” They use whatever means they can to reconstruct a hybrid of physical and virtual space – the metadata surrounding phone calls and phone-camera videos, meteorology, eyewitness accounts, reconstructions. They might scrape thousands of images of a bombing off social media and match them with material facts to fix facts in space and time, as if with the coordinates of a multidimensional map. They learn from ancient as well as modern methods, such as the memorising techniques of Roman orators and Elizabethan actors, when helping ex-prisoners reconstruct the monstrous and secret prison of Saydnaya in Syria.”