The lecture Eyal Weizman has been giving for Saskia Sassen’s symposium in Columbia in 2009, Cities and the New Wars and in Battir (Palestine) for Decolonizing Architecture in July 2010 is available to see on the website of the AA. The lecture is called Forensic Architecture and I have referred to it in my essay entitled Urbicide as such:
The way Arab’s villages in Israel have been fully destroyed after 1949 is highly symptomatic of this refusal from the Israeli authorities to deny the Palestinian existence in the past, in the present and of course in the future. Nevertheless, this last example remains absolutely legal from Israel who is free to develop its own land as it wishes. On the contrary, the systematic destruction of civilian Palestinian buildings and homes in the Gaza strip can be absolutely considered as a war crime according to the International Law of conflicts.
In that matter, Eyal Weizman observes the birth of a new legal discipline which places buildings as the main object of the judicial investigation. Weizman is then interested in the notion of “forensic architecture” that see war and building experts intervening in order to attempt to determine the technical means of destruction of architecture by external agents. In this regard, he focuses his study on the person of Marc Garlasco.
Garlasco was one of the Pentagon experts in “attacks design” and during the beginning of the second Gulf War in 2003, he was named “Chief of High Value Targeting”. His task consisted in the organization –Weizman uses the word ‘design’ in order to accentuate the architectural aspect of the job- of various attacks of buildings in order to assassinate several members of the Hussein administration or family. The fact that Garlasco was allowed to include the death of up to twenty nine civilians in each attacks is illustrative of the way Western armies are dealing with both military pragmatism and political communication. Just as much as there are processes and software of positive design of architecture, it also exists some for the accomplishment of a negative architecture; an architecture that has been transformed by the mean of destruction. The study of this transformation is far more objective than the chaotic aspect of such an architecture could let suppose. That is how, from his job in the Pentagon, Garlasco ended up working for the organization Human Rights Watch as an expert of what Weizman now calls forensic architecture. Before being fired by this same organization for the collection he owned of military Nazi objects, Garlasco studied the evidences of the 2008 Gaza siege. His conclusions proving that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed by the Israeli Army during this operation, were then confirmed by the United Nations’ representative, Richard Goldstone in his report.
Thank you Pedro !