We don't see ourselves as a forensic agency, but a counter-forensic agency. And counter-forensics is not simply taking the means and technologies of forensics as it has developed as a police practice since the late 18th and in the 19th century. But belonging and requiring another type of work initially. Counter-forensics is always investigating the investigators, only investigating state violence. We always work directly with communities.
Led by UK-based architect Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture famously puts government and corporate violence under surveillance, and its laser-sharp investigations are increasingly feared by the powerful who want to keep their abuses in the shadows.
The agency investigates contemporary conflicts and human rights violations all over the world using new types of evidence (from mobile phones, buildings and citizens), to generate architectural analysis, mapping and digital modelling that prove events didn’t take place in the way the ‘official’ narrative describes.
From torture in Myanmar, to the Beirut Port Explosion and killings in Turkey, Paris and Palestine, Weizman’s team recreate incidents, spaces and events with film, images and models that have both been submitted as evidence in international courts and exhibited as art in prestigious shows like the Venice Biennale.
Hear Eyal Weizman and UNSW humanities scholar Michael Richardson discuss the power of these innovative approaches to achieve justice.
To delve further, Eyal Weizman’s latest book, Investigative Aesthetics: Conflicts and Commons in the Politics of Truth is available at the UNSW bookshop. Order here to receive a 20% discount.
The Centre for Ideas’ International Conversations series brings the world to Sydney. Each digital event brings a leading UNSW thinker together with their international peer or hero to explore inspiration, new ideas and discoveries.
Eyal Weizman is the founding director of Forensic Architecture and Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Weizman is the author of over 15 books, the most recent is Investigative Aesthetics: Conflicts and Commons in the Politics of Truth (2021) co-authored with Matthew Fuller. He has held positions in many universities worldwide including Princeton, ETH Zurich and the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He is on the board of directors of the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) and on the Technology Advisory Board of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. In 2019, he was elected life fellow of the British Academy, and was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to architecture.
Eyal studied architecture at the Architectural Association, graduating in 1998. He received his PhD in 2006 from the London Consortium at Birkbeck, University of London.
Michael Richardson is an Associate Professor in Media at UNSW in the School of the Arts and Media. His transdisciplinary research looks at how technology, and culture intersect with war and ecological violence.
Richardson recently held an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award for a project on drones and witnessing, and is now working on the intersection of automation, military technologies and the climate crisis.
The author of academic books, journal articles, chapters, and essays, Michael often appears in the media to discuss drones, surveillance, and military technology. He is the co-director of the UNSW Media Futures Hub and the Autonomous Media Lab, and an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society.