The fifth exhibition Louisiana's series The Architect’s Studio presented Forensic Architecture, an interdisciplinary research agency, based at Goldsmiths, University of London. Working in the intersection of architecture, law, journalism, human rights and the environment, Forensic Architecture investigates conflicts and crimes around the world.
Forensic Architecture is dedicated to solving crimes against civilians, in part by analyzing architecture and landscapes based on the idea, and the awareness, that not only people but all matter has a memory, and that all memory is bound up with spatial perception. Intent on building models for looking at the world, their work is a far cry from the usual practice of architecture.
Working with grassroots activists, international NGOs and media organizations, the Forensic team carries out investigations on behalf of people affected by political conflict, police brutality, border regimes and environmental violence.
In the broadest possible sense, Forensic Architecture uses architectural tools and methods to conduct spatial and architectural analysis of particular incidents. Visualizing and rendering in 3D, they not only reconstruct a space but also document what happened in it.
Their aim is to shed light on events and give witnesses, human or material, a chance to be heard.
Witnesses, traces, data
Forensic Architecture works with images documenting attacks on civilians – fires, explosions, airstrikes, migration. They combine this documentation in “image-spaces” and video narratives constructed around the spatial experience of an event. Using 3D models, they facilitate memory recollection from witnesses who have experienced traumatic events. The objective is to reconstruct the ‘space’ in which the incident in question took place and then re-enact the relevant events within this constructed model.
The exhibition at Louisiana focused on Forensic Architecture’s work with witnesses and spatial constructions for introducing testimony and evidence. It was divided into three sections:
WITNESSES: Presenting the many different types of witnesses, clues and data at the core of Forensic Architecture’s work. Situated testimony, a large video work made especially for this exhibition, showed how various forms of testimony are documented and represented in architectural models.
MODES OF SENSING: Bearing traces of events, materials are witnesses, too. This section described the work of reading changes in material witnesses such as brick, leaves and smokes. Methods included 3D modelling, fieldwork, machine learning, and full-scale reconstructions.
ITINERANT WITNESSES: Witnesses documenting their experiences trying to cross borders in Europe provide another kind of site-specific testimony. Questions of migration and border policy were unpacked alongside direct eyewitness transmissions and Forensic Architecture’s mapping of migrant journeys.
Two full-scale reconstructions of crime scenes were built, one situated outside in the Sculpture Park.
Forensic Architecture is based at Goldsmiths, University of London and founded and headed by architect Eyal Weizman. The agency includes not only architects but also artists, software developers, journalists, lawyers and animators.
Forensic source their information from social media, blogs, government websites, satellite data sources, news sites and so on. Working and analyzing images, data, and testimony they make their results available online while exhibiting select cases in galleries and museums. Their work has been shown a.o. at the Documenta in Kassl and as part of the Architecture Biennale in Venice.
Politiken, Danish daily newspaper
THE ARCHITECT’S STUDIO
The exhibition series The Architect’s Studio turns the focus on a new generation of pace-setting architects who work with sustainable and socially aware architecture and face the challenges of globalization.
The first exhibition in the series, in 2017, was about the Chinese firm Amateur Architecture Studio directed by Wang Shu and his wife and partner Lu Wenyu, the second, in 2018, about the Chilean group ELEMENTAL headed by artistic director Alejandro Aravena. In 2019 the Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao and her Estudio was exhibited in the series, and finally in 2020-2021 Indian architect Anupama Kundoo was presented in a show entitled Taking Time.