Eyal Weizman knows that no piece of information is harmless; every fact can communicate a deliberate decision and consequently intentions for wrongdoings. And he uses reversed architectural logic to establish those facts that may be used as evidence in trials against humanity. He calls this forensic architecture. It is not by chance that he calls Robert Jan van Pelt the father of forensic architecture.
For example, he analyzed smuggled video footage taken from an explosion in a building in Afghanistan in order to prove that the destruction and killing of people was the consequence of a drone attack (which was denied by the Army) and not explosive devices manipulated by rebels (as stated by the Army). All he had was a film shot from an adjacent window. By analyzing the shadows of the buildings, the height of the film (and consequently the height of the structure from which is was filmed) and images from satellite photos of different cities, he was able to deduce the urban footprint and actually locate the building and the city where the explosion occurred. Unfortunately, satellite images are pixelated at 50 × 50 cm. This is by no means accidental: 50 × 50 is the size of the hole of a missile in a slab, so an aerial photo can not be used as proof of a bombing, and a dark spot can be claimed to be “noise” in the image. 50 × 50 cm is also the size of a body, so no harm to people can be proven; dots in an image before or after an explosion can be interpreted as “noise” in the image. So Weizman had to use footage filmed inside the destroyed room. There, the hole in the slab could not be denied. The point is that this room was on the ground floor, so the missile had to go through two slabs before it exploded. Knowing the height of a floor and the speed of the missile, the explosion can be assumed to have taken place only after the slabs have been perforated and before it hits the ground to amplify the damage. This destruction has to be designed; it requires a project, and as such the whole process can be traced back in reverse to prove this intentionality. But what is most striking, however, is how reading the shrapnel on the walls—or, more specifically, the absence of shrapnel on the walls—reveals the presence of human bodies.
Eyal Weizman presents cases according to three different scales (the body, the city, and the geography) where architecture and its logic are able to participate in relevant discussions to improve the human condition beyond the built environment.


  • Rights: Photo by: Francesco Galli; Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia, With the support of Sigrid Rausing Trust, Goldsmiths University of London, British Council

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps