Eyal Weizman with Christina Varvia and Merve Anil

Evidentiary Aesthetics

Series: Open Seminars
Date: Tuesday 16 October 2018
Time: 18:30
Venue: AA Lecture Hall

This Open Seminar will take place on Tuesdays in Term 1 at 6.30pm, starting Tuesday, 16 October 

Architectural Investigations in Contemporary Politics and Conflict

The seminar introduces the means and modes by which architecture — as a contemporary set of techniques and as a body of knowledge — can become an investigative and evidentiary mode through which to interrogate contemporary politics and conflict.

Through the study of fortifications, border devices, digital surveillance, and infrastructural networks we already understand the way in which architecture could function as a form of slow violence, but with conflict increasingly becoming urban phenomena, played out within dense media and data environments, we also need to come to grips with the ways in which the relation between conflict and space is transforming.

At the shadow of new technologies of capture and detection – increasingly based on pattern recognition and other neural networks used in machine learning — also emerge ever more sophisticated techniques of secrecy and camouflage as well as new avenues for independent investigators. Counter investigating state policy and its associated secrecy are crucial because the facts of conflict are ever and always contested, incidents can have multiple readings, and states and security forces have a tendency for cover-up or denial in an environment now commonly referred to as ‘post truth’.  

Each of the seminars — building upon the work of the Forensic Architecture agency, its collaborators and friends — introduces a concept that bridges between architecture media and conflict.

Guests including Susan Schuppli, Lorenzo Pezzani, Laura Poitras, Edmund Clark will introduce concepts such as ‘secrecy’, ‘elasticity’, ’resolution’, ‘material aesthetics’, ‘slow violence’, ‘lethal algorithms’ and ‘artificial vision’. 

Session 1: Slow and Fast Violence: Seminar in the Memory of Paul Virilio
Politics is matter slowing into form, but also, conversely, following French architect-philosopher Paul Virilio, it is a set of material forms accelerating with the power of a blast or in the light speed of electromagnetic data flow. When he died last month at the age of 86, Virilio left architecture with a unique legacy, positioning it between the operational concepts of war and that of speed. His work, touching upon military tactics, technology, image and data flows and human-machine relations, is thus a fundamental starting point for the ‘evidentiary aesthetics’ seminar. The session will use Virilio’s work from Bunker Archaeology (1975) to Politics and Speed(1986) to introduce themes and concepts that will be covered throughout the seminar series.

All lectures are open to members of the public, staff and students unless otherwise stated.

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