[rohrpost] between: things - with thomas keenan and eyal weizman

Florian Schneider fls at kein.org
Don Jan 13 18:34:06 CET 2011

On forensics 
Thomas Keenan, Eyal Weizman

2011 January 15 16:00 
Jan van Eyck Academie Maastricht

BETWEEN is a new series of events at the JVE Design department,
initiated by advising researchers John Palmesino and Florian Schneider.
The series, which invites two guests to exchange thoughts and
experiences about a problem from different points of view, kicked off
last September with a session on the issue of ‘Borders’. In the year
2011, BETWEEN will start with a double presentation by Eyal Weizman,
director of the Center for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College
(London) and Thomas Keenan, director of the Human Rights Project at Bard
College (New York).

The theme of this second BETWEEN session will be ‘Forensics’. The
principle of forensics assumes that events, as complex and
multi-valented as they might be, are registered within the material
properties of objects, bodies or spaces – relational objects that can be
referred to as ‘things’. 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
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.

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.
Forensics was part of rhetoric, but refers to the speech of objects or
things. In the forensic process, objects address the forum. However,
things need their ‘translators’ to interpret and mediate their speech.
Because the thing speaks through – or is ‘ventriloquized’ by – its
translator, the object and its translator make a necessary and
interdependent duo. To refute a legal/rhetorical statement, it suffices
to refute one of the two: to either show that the object is inauthentic
or that its interpreter is biased. When evidence is given the capacity
to speak and objects are treated as ‘witnesses’, might they also possess
the capacity to lie?

Madeleine Bisscheroux Anne Vangronsveld 
coordinators public programme and events
coordinator.events at janvaneyck.nl 
t  +31 (0)43 350 37 29 
f  +31 (0)43 350 37 99