So, in order to develop a virtual recreation of the prison, Forensic Architecture depended on ear-
witness testimony. Working with sound artist and audio engineer
, the survivors described the acoustic qualities of the space so that designers could develop an architectural model of the prison’s spaces. They also depended on testimony regarding perceptions that couldn’t be controlled by guards, such as temperature, moisture, vibrations, and echoes.
The survivor testimony led to a sobering assertion, one that recalled the scale and industrial nature of the Holocaust and other high-tech genocides. “We realized,” Weizman writes in his book, “that the building functioned not only as a space where incarceration, surveillance, and torture regularly take place, but that it is, itself, an architectural instrument of spatial and acoustic torture, and as such, one of the most extreme manifestations of architecture.” With the recent news
that a crematorium has been constructed on the prison grounds, Forensic Architecture’s work has taken on even grislier urgency.
The book documents other cases that Forensic Architecture has worked on, including the human rights abuses that have taken place in Palestine. It seems that this is what led Weizman, who was born in Haifa, Israel, down his path of studying architecture, and the violence that is encoded in it.
“It was a long process of disillusionment,” Weizman says, “of understanding the violence that is saturated in our daily lives in a way that our physical space is organized, the way that politics is spatialized always to favor the Jewish-Israelis over the Palestinians, whether they are citizens or occupied—and how architecture is one of the main tools in that struggle.”
However, Forensic Architecture flips this script, and uses the tools of architecture to study and reveal the abuses that states all over the world commit. In cases of state violence, it is the killer who has better optics, the power over data and information. But when thinkers and artists such as Weizman engage the evidence, no matter how slight, it is incredible what can be unveiled. As Weizman says, “You need to go down to the moment when something happens, and tell the history of a split second.”