In recent years, Forensic Architecture (FA – a multidisciplinary research group based out of Goldsmiths University London), has undertaken a series of investigations internationally into state crimes and human rights violations, spanning events within war zones and instances of politically and racially motivated violence and killing outside of military conflict.
As conflict increasingly takes place in urban and densely populated environments, it’s material traces are increasingly visible in the images, videos and data generated around major incidents. Grounded in the use of architecture as an ‘analytic device’, FA’s investigations engage these complex media environments to undertake visual and spatial analyses to be presented in cultural forums, for prosecution teams in cases of human rights violations and war crimes, as well truth commissions and peoples tribunals.
As a civil practice FA seeks to invert the predominantly state-held forensic gaze back onto state-led violations. Working in this field of counter forensics, their practice contends with operating in an environment of aesthetic and informational asymmetry when compared with the state, for example, with limited access to controlled evidentiary source material as well as regulated institutional judicial forums.
Focusing on this notion of aesthetic asymmetry, Simone discussed the role of video analysis and filmmaking in FA’s analytic and presentational research using several case studies. These include the re-appropriation of cinematic practices in investigating the presence of a secret agent at the scene of a racially motivated murder in Kassel, Germany, and strategies employed when faced with a lack of visual material such as a 2017 investigation into illegal torture and detention in Cameroon, and a 2016 investigation into torture practices taking place at the Saydnaya prison in Syria.
Simone Rowat has been a filmmaker and researcher at FA since 2016. She graduated with an MA in Photography and Moving Image from the Royal College of Art and a BA from the Slade School of Fine Art University College London. Her film practice is concerned with traumatic memory, simulation and neuroplasticity.
This event was a part of the exhibition Forensic Architecture: The Architecture of Conflict.