Political, forensic, hi-tech: how 'research architecture' is redefining art

In the 1990s, Goldsmiths college in London spawned the YBAs. Now, it has incubated a very different group – whose work is as likely to turn up in an international court as in a gallery

Up a narrow staircase at the labyrinthine Goldsmiths college in London is an airy room where researchers, film-makers, AI experts, investigative journalists and archaeologists pore over computer screens. This is the nerve centre of Forensic Architecture, the research agency that was a strong contender for the 2018 Turner prize (they lost out to Charlotte Prodger) and which has gained a name for its meticulous “counter-forensic” investigations into human rights abuses.

In this post-truth era, verification is paramount, so myriad documentation sources have to be corroborated in minute detail. On a recent visit I paid them, researchers were synchronising police bodycam film and extended thermal footage with film shot by an activist. Someone else was scrutinising CCTV footage connected to the recent unsolved murder of an LGBTQ activist in Greece. The investigative film-maker Laura Poitras was visiting and journalists from the New York Times had been over to learn about setting up a visual investigations unit. A team is currently training Chicago activists to respond to police violence.

This is not art destined for collectors' homes. The CRA are confronting power structures responsible for violence, and uncovering hidden stories

It's a different set of tools to understand the world and change perspectives. Is it art, journalism, documentary film-making, or architecture? Maybe it's all of the above

Continue reading...