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Forensic Aesthetics

A series of seminars, workshops and public lectures with

Eyal Weizman, Thomas Keenan, Hito Steyerl, Boris Buden, Anselm Franke, Gilles Peress, Nikolaus Hirsch

„Forensic Aesthetics“ is a yearlong open seminar taught by Thomas Keenan, Eyal Weizman, Nikolaus Hirsch and interdisciplinary guests. The seminar includes a theoretical component in which the analytical and theoretical terms pertaining to forensics will be developed; and a studio component that will allow students to develop and experiment with techniques of investigation and representations.

The seminar will culminate in an exhibition and a conference.

The word forensics derives from the Latin forensis, which means “forum” and refers to the practice of making an argument by using objects before a gathering such as a professional, political, or legal forum.

The principle of forensics assumes two interrelated sets of spatial relations. The first is a relation between an event and the objects in which it is registered, and the second is a relation between the object and the forum that is assembled around it. Forensics is thus both the investigation of objects and the creation of forums. The forums to which contemporary forensics are addressed are not only the actual spaces of the courts; they are often contingent, diffused and networked, created through and by the media, assembled around forensic evidence, and operate across a multiplicity of international institutions. Forensics is thus both an analytical form of history writing and a projective practice of forum building. It is through Forensics that this seminar will investigate the problems and potential of the new turn towards the objects in politics and culture.

Today’s legal and political decisions are based upon the capacity to read and present DNA samples, 3D scans, nano-technology, the “enhanced vision” of electro-magnetic microscopes and satellite surveillance, and extend from the topography of the sea bed to the remnants of destroyed or bombed out buildings. Architecture and its representations – either as remote sensing models, satellite imagery, 3d animations and physical models – also enter ever more frequently into courts and political forums. But rather than presenting a conclusive, objective “vehicles of truth claims” forensics is also inclined towards complex, sometimes unstable, and often contradictory accounts –a fuzzy forensics of statistics and probabilities.

„Forensic Aesthetics“ is kindly supported by „kulturfonds frankfurt rheinmain“ and „Heinz und Gisela Friederichs Stiftung“.

In collaboration with the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London and the Human Rights Project, Bard College, New York.

Image: Courtesy of Clyde Snow