Forensic Architecture is an independent research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London. It was recently nominated for the short list to win the most prestigious Turner art prize in UK. There work involves investigating human rights violations using architectural, journalistic, legal and political fields.
What is Forensic Architecture?
To put it simply, forensic architecture process is not dissimilar to forensic science criminal investigation, which applies scientific methods and processes to solve crimes. Furthermore, it utilises methods from architecture like 3D simulation models in addition to recognition, identification, and evaluation of physical evidence.
So, it is kind of a Post-Truth society’s upgraded tool for fact verification. It uses digital recording equipment, satellite imaging and platforms for data sharing. Their investigations have provided decisive evidence legal cases, and contested accounts given by state authorities, leading to military, parliamentary and UN inquiries.
The exhibition at ICA London presented recent cases of their investigations globally.
SAYDNAYA – Inside a Syrian Torture Prison
In April 2016, Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture travelled to Istanbul to meet five survivors from Saydnaya Prison. In recent years, no journalists or monitoring groups which report publicly have been able to visit the prison or speak with prisoners.
As there are no images of Saydnaya the researchers were dependent on the memories of survivors to recreate what is happening inside.
Using architectural and acoustic modelling, the researchers helped witnesses reconstruct the architecture of the prison and their experiences of detention.
Spatial models can be effective as complex routes into memory. Building digital models together with a witness and positioning the witness within this virtual environment, can lead to fragments of recollection previously obscured by violence and trauma.
The exhibition is mind blowing experience and often quite difficult to watch. If criteria of art is an altered vision, then Forensic Architecture deserves certainly an art prize.