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Forensic Architecture : deviating tools for the sake of political activism.

Forensic Architecture is a research practice founded by israeli architect Eyal Weisman. Their work uses architectural expertise and tools, not with the purpose of building, but to study and dissect destruction.

The very approach is already a very strong political act. The act of constructing, whatever it is that he would have built, is not a harmless act in the context of Weisman’s home country. Choosing not to practice what he was trained for is a statement, using the tools to investigate destruction, sometimes prove state lies, is activism.

Beirut’s port explosion.

If the video does not unveil new information about the explosion (the documents used were also available in other media, and the responsibility for neglecting the port was well established), 3D modeling allows to visualise a combination of testimonies, which visually and spatially validates them. It can appear that, as other works of the research studio, it is

What is particularly striking in the effectiveness of the medium used, and that’s inspiring for the works and research that we are undertaking, is the combination of different sources and research methods.

Here is an attempt at isolating some of the recurring tools used, in both videos of Beirut’s port and Liquid traces - The left to die boat:

  • The use of traditional research and investigation tools : for example by digging into documents, legal reports in the case of the port. Interviews with witnesses for the left to die boat.

  • 3D modeling to evaluate the impact at different scales: at the scale of the city, within its immediate context of the neighboring buildings, within the factory where the explosives were stored.

  • Analysis of pictures. Image analysis is a tool that is largely used in FA different projects. It is a good example of the importance of using cross media. Here they use a combination of pictures from different sources and angles combined to cartography and 3D modeling, which allows to verify angle, possible perception distortions, to verify their veracity. It also in the case of Beirut allowed to dissect the layers of smoke, but also to precisely time the events.

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