Diploma 3 Forensic Architecture using a Pléiades satellite photograph of eastern Rafah, 11.39am, 1 August 2014

THE ARCHITECTURAL MEDIA COMPLEX

Christina Varvia, Merve Anil

From Brunelleschi’s anamorphic projections to present-day machine vision the architectural act has always relied on optical devices to inform its perception and production of space. Today, the speed with which new technological prostheses transform our sensorium – our ability to see, hear, perceive – challenges the boundaries of architecture. This unit proposes a deep interrogation of the technologies that capture, process and transform space into media.

Nowhere is this more relevant than in the fields of conflict. Territories are no longer only physical realities guarded by fences but also fields of view, frequency spectrums, circuits of electricity. Whether smartphones, body cameras, CCTV, drones, satellites, radar, sonar, or laser, these systems have a political afterlife. When such media enter into the legal process as evidence, their technological thresholds are in fact the locale of political struggle – they are fought over, often with the same rigour as nations defend their physical borders. If architects are to regain their agency within the media-saturated present, they ought also to become critical technologists, experts, artists and activists.

Drawing from the work of Forensic Architecture, the unit will develop investigative frameworks to examine the ruptures of civic life, the moments when otherwise dormant political forces erupt in violent expression. We will analyse the choreography of violence and forensically unpack breaking news about police brutality, urban warfare and government corruption.

Working in four dimensions and shifting scales from the granularity of the moment to the latency of centuries, we will design optical devices, media hacks, radio glitches and spatial interventions that will mobilise and activate political movements.

Building on a series of open research seminars and workshops with theorists, scientists, activists and artists, the projects will operate in a variety of forums, from human rights courts to parliaments, press conferences and exhibitions. These forums will be considered as sites for intervention, as well as presentation and performance, making the research operative, enacted and alive.

Staff

Christina Varvia is an architect, researcher and the Deputy Director of Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths College. Her research concentrates on architectural evidentiary techniques, digital media and memory. She has worked with multiple NGOs and published and exhibited internationally. She recently joined the Technology Advisory Board at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Merve Anil is a qualified architect and has worked at numerous practices based in London, Rotterdam and Istanbul across a range of scales and methodologies, including as a researcher whilst at OMA. Merve graduated from the AA in 2014 and currently works for London-based practice AHMM.

Unit Collaborator

Eyal Weizman is an architect, Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures, and Director of Forensic Architecture. He is a founding member of the architectural collective DAAR in Beit Sahour/Palestine and a member of board of directors of the Centre for Investigative Journalism. His books include Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability, FORENSIS, Mengele’s Skull (with Thomas Keenan), The Least of All Possible Evils, and Hollow Land.

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