Class of 2019
Clémence Althabegoity (RA)
Molecular bordering: The Spatialisation of Nitrogen Dioxide Injustice
Born out of combustion processes, Nitrogen Dioxide is a toxic gas that depends on the acceleration of an engine. Once inhaled, within living porous bodies, NO2 dissolves in the moisture of tissue causing illnesses such as asthma, heart issues, cardiovascular issues as well as mental health issues, IQ decrease, and premature deaths. This phenomenon is called “oxidative stress”, catalysis of the oxidation of one’s body, the same process that causes iron to rust, which plays a similarly corrosive role in human and nonhuman bodies. The legal threshold of Nitrogen Dioxide was set in 2015 by the World Health Organization (WHO) at 40 μg/m3 as an annual mean. WHO guidelines were adopted in 2010 by the European Union Environmental Action Program (EAP) through an extensive body of legislation which establishes health- based standards. However, the United Kingdom is facing illegal levels of air pollution. While the UK imports its manufacture from Asian territories; in doing so, emissions are displaced, and pollution figures are artificially reduced. This outsourcing of acceleration generates unequal exposure to oxidation through porous time border, creating molecular injustice. Using the body and materials as a form witness, the practice of this research aims to point at those unequal embodied borders.
Dimitra Andritsou (FA)
To Let Burn: Fire, Encampment and Abandonment
My research examines the politics of fire at play on the migrant hotspot of Moria in Lesvos, one of the frontier ‘chokepoints’ of the European border regime. From blazes of indignation to flaring humanitarian infrastructure, fire on the island appears as a lurking, ubiquitous presence. The emergence of it is interrogated as an ambiguous force being concurrently incident and accident, as well as a symptomatic entity that highlights the precarious, differentiated regime of abandonment and care, and thus signals institutional failure at diverse, inter-scalar registers. Interpolating the containment of migrant mobility with the ‘uncontainability’ of the fire, the research constitutes an attempt to navigate between nodes of intervention and negotiation within this conflictual entanglement of fire and regimes of (un)protection, and rethink how accountability and notions of social justice may operate in such a volatile field.
Tim Brouwer (FA)
Techno-Logics of Banking
Expanding labyrinths of Information Technology (IT) obfuscate the modus operandi of banking. Their technological innovations function for but one end: profit production. Despite the Basel Accords following the 2008 financial crisis, the digitisation of the economy continues to fuel the overdependence on mega-banks, alongside the ascendancy of tech giants. A relational consideration of the multiplicity of risks is being ignored due to the western technological condition, which favours division and domination for the sake of automating capital. This research will examine TSB Bank’s recent IT accident—or rather unrealistic reliance on technology—as an entry point into the underlying techno-logics of banking architectures in the UK. By utilising the sensorial capacity of IT as a tool that can detect and register interobjective relations, I aim to materialise the conflicting inputs and outputs of TSB’s platform upgrade.
Manuel Correa (FA)
Is a participatory project seeking to create a radical documental repository of testimonial and archival material about a near to impossible exhumation that has demonstrated the Spanish church’s relationship with fascism.
Erica Deluchi (RA)
Parcel portals scattered across the cadastral map of New South Wales, Australia, are a fragmented administrative archive through which the historical establishment of the abstract representation of landed property can be problematised. The unearthing of these residual parcels through council-organised auctions for unpaid rates exposes them as troubled parcels of land that rupture the totalising system of real estate and commerce. The inconvenience of auctioning off parcel portal phenomena situated in unremarkable suburban locations such as driveways, easements and alleyways undergirds the stronghold of the abstraction of land and how it’s colonial literacy relentlessly permeates through to the microcosmic scale of the cadaster. They possess an inability to reconcile into the totalising commodity logic of landed property. Analysing their positioning in space and time offers the means to explore the foundational prerequisites of their condition as the abstracted fragmentary remains of the settler colonial project.
The research project aims to interrogate the colonial logics of map abstraction at the scale of the parcel portal to then speculate on the future of abstraction in landed property. This near future promises a rapid acceleration of digital technologies entering the already abstracted logic of property in land. The analysis is in response to the emergence of third party digital land registry platforms that are beginning to mimic the ideologies of the colonial project in an attempt to colonise the ‘digital layer’ of the real world. As machine intelligence permeating our landscapes continues to rupture the condition of reality itself, I suggest that the map abstraction of an artificial reality (digital layer) is an abstraction of an abstraction as reality. As the real world, the abstracted world and the new reality as abstraction collide, the future of property in land-space and the terms of ownership over its use will be subjected to the infinite morphings and contortions of an even more complex, unwieldy futurity.
Anna Engelhardt (FA)
On the 25th of November 2018 Russian coast guard attacked 3 Ukrainian vessels, which were going to Azov sea via Kerch strait. Overall 3 Ukrainian ships were captured with 24 crew members on board who are under prosecution now for possessing a threat to Russian sovereignty. This event marked the first official military aggression from the Russian side against Ukraine since the start of the proxy war in 2014. This crime is one of the multiple materialisations of the offence that is still unrevealing in the Kerch Strait. It was enabled by the adversarial infrastructure created in the area, one that functions as a border despite the label of the bridge. Stating this, I define adversarial infrastructure as one that is achieving hostility against an enemy by combination of antagonistic functions. My project is an investigation of the continuous atrocity of adversarial infrastructure - Crimean Bridge, unlawfully constructed by Russian state in 2015-2018.
Océane Francioli (PT FA)
Lodovica Guarnieri (PT RA)
The Brain at War. A Genealogy of Molecular Infrastructures
The definition of depression as a physiological disorder emerged in the 1950s and ’60 and is inseparable from war. Not simply because depression developed as a major mental illness in the years of the Cold War, but in a much more intimate sense: antidepressants, that were functional to trace a somatic concept of the illness, borrowed - or better say synthesized, chemicals contained in the fuel used in nuclear ballistic missiles, the V2 rocket. Looking at the molecular infrastructure connecting the two technologies, my research analyses the parallel rise and the intermingle of two supra-national narratives: the notion of global warfare and the international management of mental health.
Rebecca Huxley (RA)
Earth as Spectrum Archive
Our memory of the night and experience of darkness, is undergoing a slow erasure amongst the hyperproduction of diurnal-nocturnal urban and rural environment. By using the term slow erasure, I am proposing that our personal archive of the night is slowly deconstructed and re-programmed by the excess of memory of a ‘false’ night. The stages of twilight towards night are intriguing, they reveal moments in which our interactions with the earth and sky in our milieu distinctly alter. Darkness is measured by the absence of light. We move towards darkness and every photon of light has value, but perhaps this value is not the most accurate way to describe the experience of light. As the ever-increasing saturation of light occupies the planet, minimising the amount of darkness in our lived experience, this research will consider questions on the importance of darkness in human and non-human experience. How does the earth hold memory of light and dark in different locations on it's sphere? How did interactions between human, nonhuman and darkness affect the past, and come to transform the present landscape? The UV photon and its relevance in reindeer herding in the arctic circle raises critical questions about light violence that is invisible to humans. A reduction in darkness means we must better understand light - both natural and artificial - as it operates through the scale of Earth's atmosphere to the depths of the sea.
Carol Iglesias (FA)
Research Boundaries: Contesting the Calculus of Risk and Protection in Geo-engineering Experimentation
My MA project investigates the political and legal determinations of risk and care in the face of developing geo-engineering experimentation. I focus on the SCoPEx experiment — led by Harvard University and scheduled to take place in New Mexico in 2019-20 — and analyse how the production of speculative calculations concerning temperature, light reflectivity, and particle behaviour in the stratosphere becomes central to the discussion around the political (in)acceptability of outdoor geo-engineering experiments. By drawing on histories of damage and toxicity resultant from the Gasbuggy nuclear test in Dulce, NM, I argue that current standards for environmental protection and risk assessments — reliant on the notion that producing a controlled and isolated setting is possible — dramatically fail to imagine the multiple modalities of harm that scientific experimentation with the planetary is capable of causing.
Imani Jacqueline Brown (FA)
The Great Unraveling of the Corporate Sublime
Throughout the 300 years of Louisiana's colonial existence, acolytes of Extractivism have sacrificed human and nonhuman persons on the altar to a "hyperobject" bestowed with the legal and cultural status of more-than- personhood, lowering the world's horizons. I call this entity the corporate sublime. The corporate sublime draws its energy through invasive infrastructure grafted into the increasingly machinic Mississippi River Delta. Since the discovery of oil at the turn of the 20th century, fossil fuel corporations have dredged 10,000 linear miles of canals to drill and access over 75,000 wells throughout the state’s coastal wetlands. This practice has unraveled Louisiana's coast like a threadbare tapestry, disintegrating 2,000 square miles of wetland in eighty years–– one of the fastest rates of land loss in the world. Further upriver, these same companies have sited scores of petrochemical plants on the footprints of former plantations, smothering communities of slavery’s descendants with carcinogenic petrochemicals. A $50 billion-plus Master Plan––to be paid for by Louisiana’s fence- and front-line communities––outlines the State’s vision for “defending our way of life” against the unraveling coast. Paradoxically, however, this unraveling of our corrosive way of life is our and the planet’s only salvation. My project will explore methods of bringing the corporate sublime––corporate-owned wells, canals, and plantations-turned-plants––into focus. Corporate de-territorial maps and geontological memorials will gesture toward a demand for corporate accountability and reparations that could fund humanity’s transition through and beyond the Great Unraveling of the Corporate Sublime.
Naiza Khan (PT RA)
Victoria McKenzie (RA)
Toxic Mushrooms: The Mycoremediation of Disaster Landscape
My research takes the mushroom as a point of departure to investigate soil toxicity at sites of radioactive disaster. The aim of my research is to understand the role specific fungi play in the remediation of radioactive soil. While most disaster relief efforts are focused on anthropocentric methodologies of intervention, my research instead argues that existing ecological phenomena, such as sub-terrain fungi root networks known as ‘mycelium’, are proficient at performing soil recovery functions if given sufficient time and support. The research furthermore posits that the methods by which Queendom Fungi, specifically the mushroom, enter into relation with toxicity can be used as a speculative method of ‘ecosophy’ or a democratic intervention through which cooperative action and environmental activism can emerge. As a conceptual and practical tool, I believe the mushroom recognizes crisis as opportunity, challenging one's understanding of the differences between nation-state capitalist mediation and citizen-led communal projects of remediation of which the more-than-human commons play a magnificent role.
Christopher Bennett-Grant (RA)
Sounding the Crisis
This research practice aims to create new methods of investigation and pedagogy, which address historical and contemporary social, cultural and political activism across the Caribbean and African Diaspora. Drawing on critical approaches to political economy, Black studies and sound theory, combined with the spatial approach of Research Architecture, this practice will produce techniques of ‘sounding’ the infrastructure and institutional relations which have emerged out of the ‘crisis’ of transatlantic slavery. Following Christina Sharpe in describing this condition as being ‘In the wake’; “to occupy and to be occupied by the continuous and changing present of slavery’s as yet unresolved unfolding”(13–14 Sharpe), how can spatial methods of investigation and experiments in pedagogy (wake-work) work through the paradoxes which surround black history, identity and citizenship? Indeed, a part of this project has pursued an investigation into the acoustic design of the so-called ‘Windrush Scandal’, which signals the recursive sounding of crisis. The abolition of key arrival documents by the United Kingdom’s (UK) Home Office and recent changes to immigration laws, led many UK citizens of Caribbean descent to be detained, denied social services and in 83 cases deported from the UK, eleven of which have died. Therefore, I have initially considered the various spatial elements of this case, such as how the acoustic formation of rhetorical devices in the House of Commons organises political power; sounding the infrastructure of an old shipbuilding site at Convoys Wharf in Deptford; as well as conducting a series of interviews with academics, activists and lawyers.The purpose of this practice is to produce an archive of spatial research from a series of public forums, with which to create an innovative pedagogical framework which addresses historical and contemporary social, cultural and political activism from across the Caribbean and African Diaspora.
Romy Kiessling (RA)
Situated at the intersection of climate, law, and the built environment, my research is concerned with how the impacts of climate transformations unfold socio-politically and spatially in uneven ways. The unevenness of harm is revealed through buildings and infrastructures – which both originate from and adapt to the structural violence linked to CO2 emissions. How does one use architecture to frame a field of causality that connects disparate localities for the purpose of making claims for climate justice legible? In order to pursue this question, I follow an ongoing legal case in which Saúl Luciano Lliuya, a Peruvian farmer, has brought charges against the power plants of a German energy provider operating in Europe. The lawsuit claims that the company has contributed a discernible amount to the emissions at the root of global climate change, and that it should therefore be responsible for a proportional share of the costs of containing a swelling glacial lake, which is at the brink of overflowing due to melting glaciers and could destroy the plaintiff’s house in Huaraz, Peru.
Tiago Patatas (FA)
Harm by Indirection
My research investigates the conditions of the illegal, small-scale gold mining epidemic in the Amazon. Often carried out in frontier zones, the informal practice uses mercury to amalgamate the gold particles, irreversibly spreading the volatile metal. While contamination occurs with the absence of a punctual act, it is a project of severe molecular violence. Miners, traditional communities and non-human beings alike are exposed to the toxic effects of mercury, reflecting a project of environmental injustice that questions the notions of victim, perpetrator and crime. By putting forward the hypothesis that the environments, its actors and actants in study are permanently contaminated, the investigation attempts to explore modes of action that can sustain life otherwise.
Tara Plath (FA)
Mapping The Space of Deterrence: Conceptions of Rescue in the Arizona Borderlands
This research focuses on the United States Border Patrol's response to the missing migrant crisis unfolding in the west desert of Arizona over the past two decades, following the implementation of the Prevention Through Deterrence strategy in the mid-nineties. Fifty-eight Rescue Beacons, or "Panic Poles," have been installed across the state by U.S. Border Patrol in this remote desert region, which spans the U.S.-Mexico border to the south and is primarily under federal jurisdiction as national parks, wild life refuge, and military bases. The beacons' exact locations and data related to their use and effectiveness are not public, yet their presence are offered by Border Patrol as the preferred method of aid, in contrast to the efforts of local activist and humanitarian workers. In the investigation, the rescue beacon serves as a nexus for interrogating state obligation in response to migrant fatalities, tensions between Border Patrol and local humanitarian groups, the existing legal frameworks surrounding immigration law and their recent applications under inflamed nationalist rhetoric, and the relationship between conservation, federal land management, and border enforcement. The research seeks to challenge concepts of aid and rescue and state obligation, while also practically intervening in the criminalisation of humanitarian workers by collaborating with local NGOs and producing materials for recent court cases and forthcoming human rights reports.
Santiago Rivas (RA)
Unlock/Feedback/Fold: Permafrost as a Translator, Facilitator, and Spatial Archive
In 2016 reindeer begin dying en masse in the Yamal Peninsula in Northern Siberia. A massive heat wave reaching 32C hit the Russian tundra thawing the upper layer of the permafrost. As a result, dormant spores of a deadly bacteria hosted in a 75 year-old reindeer carcass were released into the environment. 72 Nenet nomadic herders were hospitalised and the area evacuated. It was found that 2,300 reindeers and a 12 year-old Nenet boy died in an outbreak of Anthrax. Air temperature determines the existence and stability of permafrost, the ground at or below 0C that covers two thirds of the Russian Federation territory. Thermal activation of microbes and sequestered carbon cryopreserved in the upper layers of permafrost may have critical socio-ecological consequences. Greenhouse gasses are increasingly being released into the environment, the terrain is being altered by subsidence and erosion phenomena, and unknown or eradicated diseases are expected to revive. Receding permafrost due to global warming manifests thus spatially and biologically, posing a severe, unequal threat to the life of certain socio-ecological communities that inhabit the Artic regions. In this project I investigate the architecture of the thawing permafrost and its shifting border regime under current climate conditions. Moreover, I explore permafrost as a temperature and biological archive, and as facilitator and translator of climate change.
Mohamad Safa (FA)
“Witnesses of war are as well the ones that have listened to It”. Borrowed by J.Martin Daughtry, this claim reformulates the notion of armed-conflict as a sonic quasi-event (Povinelli). There, its survivors’ ears have registered not only the blasts but what has led to and followed it. At 2:40 pm in the afternoon of the 13th of August 2006, an “ear blasting impact that I have never heard in my life” as one witness asserts, had struck the southern suburb of Beirut. The blast in question was the result of 20 consecutive Israeli aerial bombardments with guided bomb units GBU-27 on Imam al Hassan residential complex in the southern suburb. This assault materialized the end of the 33-day Israel-Lebanon war. What was to follow was the reconfiguration as well as the consolidation of sectarian conflict in the construction practices that emerged out of the particular modes of rebuilding the devastated city. Stemming from the multiple sonic facets of those events, this research is investigating the auditory particularities in Lebanon, as a method that underpins the structural extension of armed conflict traumas during the cessation of hostilities. This hypothesis is communicated through an analysis of sonic and spatio-acoustic modes that govern the reverberations of bomb impacts and their continuous reoccurrence in the post-war reconstruction noisescape.
This dissertation investigates the 2016 intrastate conflict and redevelopment program in Diyarbakir, SE Turkey as an instance of "civic warfare." Civic war refers to the extension of hostilities-- beyond the destructive situation of armed conflict in an urban environment-- into the civil domain, particularly by use of the legal instruments of State power. The thesis, through spatial analysis, image-production and writing, seeks to enhance critical discourse on International Humanitarian Law and the State-terror nexus."
Phevos Simeonidis (FA)
Omonoia / Trajectory of hates crimes in Athens, Greece
My research explores the genealogy of hate-crimes in Greece and abroad in parallel to the current rise of nationalist ideals and xenophobic narratives of fear and irredentism. I aim at investigating the current and past social realities of the Balkans, prior to and while austerity measures are in place. Meanwhile, I'm focusing on instigating a dialogue of experiential exchange between the university and the social movements. I'm currently working on cases of police brutality against migrants throughout the past two decades, trying to unravel, monitor and present the multidimensional connections of the Authorities with extrastate right-wing groups.
Luke Starr (PT RA)
My research examines the rela0onships between animal tes0ng and no0ons of gender and sex in Western science. Drawing on the work of Paul B. Preciado, Judith Butler and Michel Foucault it seeks to use the Draize eye irrita0on test as a specific entry point through which to understand how the Englightenment's privileging of sight intersects with forms of animal tes0ng and scien0fic norms around gender and sex.
Asli Uludag (RA)
This research investigates the politics of smart greenhouse hydroponics and the consequent alienation of the natural environment. Mobilized around environmental emergencies, the agriculture industry has shifted its focus from arable farming to smart, greenhouse hydroponics for which Westland in the Netherlands functions as a test site. Widely considered the future of agriculture for its sustainability and efficiency, smart greenhouse hydroponics in Westland is practiced in Dutch greenhouses. In these sterile and monitored environments of control, the complex ecological network of generation is simplified, modified and recreated in a closed system for mass crop production. Yet the distinction between this modified system of production and the natural generative network it is derived from operates on the logic of sustainability of not the generative network as a whole but exclusively of the human-made system of crop production on the interior. The glass and concrete borders wrapped around these sterile, fragile and so-called closed system environments expand and contract in all directions to regulate crossings by non-human actors. Coupled with the monitoring ability provided by sensing technologies, these fluid borders protect the tamed interior while contaminants leak into the environment the greenhouses redefine as wild and unsterile. This project aims to locate these fluid borders and explore the logics they operate on.
Avi Varma (FA)
My research at the Centre for Research Architecture explores the multiple forms of environmental and epistemic violence. Through my dissertation project I investigate the Tornillo “Tent City,” a detention center for unaccompanied migrant children near El Paso, Texas, situated on the US-Mexico border. I argue that the Tornillo detention center is part of an emergent pattern of population management that is being enacted to contend with climate migrations resulting from ecocidal harm. It is a matter of environmental concern involving federal-and-military infrastructure, toxic environments, refugee detention, and emergency management companies making hundreds of millions of dollars in profit. Therefore, my project attempts to disentangle the complex relations that intersect at Tornillo and to establish a set of core, ecological processes that are the conditions of possibility for the detention center."
Sarah Vowden (RA)
Contactless Technologies have increasingly entered the financial terrain of small payments, reducing the transaction to the waving of a card over the payment terminal, or at the touch of a thumb with biometrics integrated into mobile phones, forming a new material encounter of the everyday transaction. The dwindling popularity of using cash exposes our embodied disciplining of contactless technologies, and the dematerialization of exchange practices. Using Near-field-Communication technology, contactless cards produce an electromagnetic induction via its internal antenna and data is transmitted via radio waves between the card and the payment terminal at a maximum distance of 4cm. It is this zone that the contactless makes contact. I mobilise this 4cm as a critical space in which multiple scales of contact take place; the prosthetic tendency of contactless as an extension of the body, the haptic touch between the card and the ambivalent air in between, the reduced social encounter, and the increasingly biometric uses of contactless as it shifts from the plastic card, to the watch, to under the skin. In the moment of a contactless transaction, touch is not wholly removed. A non-touch, the almost touch, the tap, these produce an ambivalent physical encounter that destabilizes notions of touch. This project mobilises contactless as a lens to interrogate the shifting notions of materiality as money sheds its form. Archival in nature, Contact/less produces non-linear narratives of contactless technology, both as a financial and cultural strategy towards cashless society, but also as an entry into capitalism's demise of touch, and the constant blurring of subject and object in an emerging contactless urbanism. I do not see this as a genealogy of contact nor an attempt to create a stable definition of touch, but a practice of speculating how to frame contactless as an urban impulse of fearing the touch of the other, by disorientating touch through digital technologies of exchange and data extraction.
Class of 2018
Esra Abd-elrahman, Faiza Ahmad Khan, Riccardo Badano, Nelson Beer, Guillaume De Vore, Halima Haruna, Patrick Harvey, Rebecca Huxley, Anna Sofie Hvid Hansen, Naiza Khan, Robert Krawczyk, Enrico Murtula, Riccardo Badano, Imani Robinson, Hanna Rullman, Erin Schneider, Ariadna Serrahima, Elena Solis, Ido Tsarfati, Clive Vella, Sarah Vowden, Liza Walling
Forensic architecture studio
Esra Abd-elrahman - Rawabi as a Mega-Project
Rawabi, the first planned Palestinian city, is it a project of resistance? The city intertwines cultural elements of both Israeli and Palestinian architecture. Through this manipulation, I ask if it is succeeding in its attempts at creating an ideological image, that entices influx populations of Palestinians to fill the role of its ‘Invisible citizen’? A messianic figure belonging to the future Palestinian state, that inspires individuals to accomplish their idea of resistance against the occupation, by visiting, working and living there. Has it been successful in promoting the economic peace that has been advocated by the west and the state of Israel? I draw comparisons from the mega-projects that stem from the Gulf region, comparing their function, marketing strategies, funding, growth and how this project is functioning in the political climate it is situated on. I explore the propaganda being imposed and if it is in fact forming, what Rohan Advani termed in 2017, the ‘Neopatrimonial Palestinian Proto-state’.
Guillaume De Vore - 38°19’28.02”N; 26°5’31.47”E Distant Images or Fragments of Containment
the photograph, as a reproduction made by a machine, carries with it an evidentiary truth value.
— McLagan and McKee, Sensible Politics
Images from above are tools to analyse and interpret remote spaces. What traces lie latent in these seemingly objective representations? A series of fragments, this visual essay tells the story of the proliferation of a space. The invisibility of this space and its inhabitants raises the questions: how to see, how to be seen, how not to see and how not to be seen. The imaged space itself is a fragment of an archipelago of similar spaces, spaces that are built with the purpose of fragmenting and containing.
As the flows of goods and resources are constrained to corridors and pipelines, so are those of people. Migration movements follow defined and regulated paths: migrants are under constant surveillance and control, constant channelling. How do such apparatuses of confinement operate? How to counter them? The research project will take me to Greece – one of fortress Europe’s borderlands. Is the Greek nation-state itself a space of confinement and exclusion for illegal migrants en route for Europe? How confining are refugee camps, detention centres and other supposedly temporary halts throughout the path of migrants? Do these apparatuses of confinement submerge illegal migrants in a state of in-betweeness, left in limbo as neither citizen nor stateless? What are the existing alternatives and modes of resistances to such intolerable states of confinement? Can social movements resist imposed forms of fixity and fluidity? Can other networks be created where people and resources meet? Can places of counter-confinement render states of crisis visible?
Anne-Sofie Hvid - Counter Pastoral
The rural is a hybrid space shaped by conflicting ideologies and spatial narratives. From high-tech agriculture, land speculation and logistical interface, to deep ecology and nature as imaginative projection screen the rural serves as a narrative fabric mobilized for various political purposes. Denmark, a relatively compact geographic area, holds one of the most efficient agriculture industries in EU, but also the poorest nature in terms of biodiversity along with an increasing inequality relative to the distance from the urban centres. In my research, I investigate the relations between spatial capitalism, “cheap nature” and the social and cultural crisis of rural Denmark. My focus lies in particular on the southern islands of Denmark, Lolland-Falster: Shaped by landesque capital since the late 19th century, this high-quality arable land has become prone to land speculation from foreign investors. Simultaneously, Lolland-Falster is facing vast social problems and extensive unemployment- a situation which is indirectly created by the centralized organisation of the Danish welfare state. Supporting the argument of the rural as a social residue of urban ideology, are recent attempts to gentrify the rural as symbolized through the art museum Fuglsang Kunstmuseum on Lolland-Falster, which was inaugurated in 2008.
Enrico Murtula - Slow Violence in the Deep Sea
Most of our Planet’s surface is not reached by sunlight, because of the layer of water above it. This is the ‘Deep Sea’, an unknown space, a frontier. Soon to be explored and mapped, by means of new technologies. Anyhow, the impossibility of seeing through the ‘Deep Sea’ is often used as a justification for freely using and abusing it. National regulations are still allowing nuclear reprocessing plants to discharge radioactive waters into the sea. And Governments are not usually keen to investigate the past wrecking of toxic ships. Out of sight, out of mind. Environmental advocacy requires new conceptual tools to expose the slow violence that operates in the ‘Deep Sea’.
Imani Robinson - The Black (D)rift
The Black (D)rift is an ongoing curatorial and research project exploring the spatial dynamics of black interiority, objecthood, and affect through encounters with particular sites, geographies and temporalities of the afterlives of slavery. My practice works with prose, poetry, orality and performance and I am interested in how Blackness moves through space and time. My research explores the area in which I grew up, which is also the area that holds Grenfell Tower, Notting Hill Carnival, and an urgent, logistical history of migration, housing, policing, surveillance, disaster, resistance and movement.
Hanna Rullmann - Fort Vert
This research will analyse the construction of a natural reserve at the location of former refugee camp ‘The Jungle’ in Calais, France: after its destruction in October 2016 the City Council of Calais quickly established plans for the plot to be absorbed into the neighbouring natural reserve named ‘Fort Vert’, funded in part by the UK Border Force. The landscape design outlines the use of several natural features for the purpose of preventing new settlements, while also creating a habitat that will stimulate the re-appearance of the protected fen orchid. As the new natural landscape is shaped, a discontinuity in memory and visibility invokes the following question: how does one interrogate a landscape as a truthful record of the events it is a witness to? This question will weave through the accumulation of events that have formed this particular landscape in relation to its history of toxicity, ownership, soil, (native/invasive) species, agriculture, logistics, finance, hostility and displacement, in order to understand its weaponisation in migration and border policies.
Elena Solis - Speculation(s): Extraction and Finance in Spain
At a time of economic decline, when extraction finance is displacing real production of raw materials, there appears to be an acceleration of exploratory and exploitation projects being silently processed in Spain. This state of affairs has conjured a landscape of socio-ecological devastation which is quickly penetrating the imaginary of those inhabiting the surface of the territories targeted, while the apparatuses of financial exploitation are immersed in subterranean geography of investment alchemy, premature profits and social struggle obfuscation. Given this perplexing reality, it is pressing to speculate as to the underlying logic of these fictitious extractive operations and the opaque web of supranational, domestic, private and public connections, so we can perhaps, ultimately, demystify the hyperrealities of supply security, technical progress and energy transition failures, which are presented to us as inevitable, should we not consent to this new model extractivism.
Ido Tsarfati - (Non-) Human Shields: Urban Renewal as War
Israel consists of various architectural forms that compose a protected space, shaping its political-spatial policy into militant interventions that sit at the threshold between defensive and offensive strategies. This protected space is formed by defensive shields, as it is understood through different theoretical contexts such as international law, philosophy and the built environment. Rather than examining the way Israel preserves its territorial claims through the familiar militant protection, this research seeks to investigate the domestic arena; in accordance with the law, Israel encourages an integration of Mamad towers (vertical private shelters) as an element of reinforcement in residential buildings, a structural act of the urban mechanism of Tama 38, a current nation-wide plan for the protection of domestic buildings from local natural threats. Using the shield, and specifically the Mamad, as an operative concept, the research will focus on the way in which militant strategies are manifested ideologically and physically in the domestic space, increasing the safety and stability throughout the country and improving Israel’s ability to attack.
Forensic architecture studio
Faiza Ahmad Khan - Archival Testimony
The project examines articulations of testimony within a (shared but not-yet-public) video archive of anti-Muslim violence in India. Largely containing witness accounts partly redacted, the archive and equally the redaction, bear testimony to the political infrastructure of the violence. Simultaneous to the redaction of information, leaks and stings, appear as a counter flow. A proposed methodology is to work with processes of redaction and annotation between these materials as a way to productively perform the aporia that is the archive.
Riccardo Badano - Hostile Environments: The Alps as Space of Conflicts
In the attempt of crossing the Alps on foot, asylum seekers are endangered by temperatures that dip dramatically below the zero, snowy cliffs and icy ravines: many of them, retrieved by Alpine Rescue Teams, suffer massive injuries. State actors can efficiently screen behind the natural elements to deny their responsibility. Nonetheless, these accidents are carefully constructed. By funnelling migration routes outside the urban areas, the different political actors rely on the fact that natural barriers would serve to discourage illegal entry, mobilising nonhuman actors— plants, animals, and biophysical elements—in the process of “boundary-making”. My research proposes to map the weaponisation of the terrain as a political strategy ofdeterrence (and, consequently, redistribute accountability) as well as the efforts trans-national groups of activists put in place to counter-deter that system and facilitate the “free circulation of bodies” across the Italian-French border.
Nelson Beer - Architectures of Exclusion: Atmospheres and Alternative Development in and around the City of Calais
Air has until recently been what the Ocean was to the Nomos: a heedless space, the host of lawless rovers and threatening farers; a disembodied matter unfit to the bounded substance of society. Today, it seems like air has shifted from its outsider state to become the pivotal discipline for the exercise of power and law; operations that themselves flux and flow, dissimulate and adapt to deceitful forms in order to keep populations safe and ensure economic expansion. In an attempt to define how atmospheres are utilised in militarised environments, border protection and social inclusion, I will in a first instance observe what atmospheres are made of: intrinsic to the imaginary, yet creating a distance with the outside. Second, I will look at how building atmospheres in and around Calais creates shared imaginaries which themselves are at the origin of spatial partitioning. Boundaries grow with elasticity yet separate and divide from within.
Halima Haruna - Coastal Screens: Image Re-organises Material
My research interests interconnect local geopolitics and personal geopolitics. Through video, performance, design and writing; I conduct an archaeology of the interior, of the milieu that holds the temporal and spatial qualities of my “environment.” I work through and with ever-resolving ontologies of Blackness, in the academy and outside of it, metamorphosing and articulating myself as the site of study. My most current research is on Eko Atlantic and the Lekki Free Trade Zone public-private projects undergoing construction on the coast of Lagos state in Nigeria. I write and think with a Black politics of time and logistics of food shipping; land grabbing and the fast-moving consumer good.
Patrick Harvey - Cathodes
A look into the Democratic Republic of Congo’s cobalt industry, focusing on pivotal moments and spaces where land, resources, and capital go through a process of either legitimization or delegitimization as they flow between the hands of the Congolese people and the global market. These processes are investigated through the conceptualization of what constitutes the contemporary ‘Grid’. An abstraction stemming from the 1970’s off-grid movement, and a notion presented as a mediating threshold between the Congolese and the globalized world.
Rob Krawczyk - World Hothouse with Many Rooms
World Hothouse With Many Rooms, or Spheres, Stacks and Other Stories along the New Silk Road is a research proposal that seeks to elide a diverse set of geometric vitalisms - most acutely, Peter Sloterdijk’s Spherology volume III - Foams - in opening out the architectural, linguistic, philosophical and sociological elements of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the $1 trillion infrastructure initiative to develop high-speed rail systems, energy pipelines, coastal harbours, ports and trading hubs throughout the Asian, European, and African continents. World Hothouse with Many Rooms tends toward foam as a media and material theory of the infrastructural fold and its forms and spheres of influence. Propositions propel this experimental field into the percolation stream: The New Silk Road is a column of foam. The New Silk Road is a cosmic machine, scattering a neighbourhood of aqualine spheres across the spine of three continents, weaving polyhedral oases in black, grey and fractal forms — of financial, industrial, mineral and technology clusters — stacking into dense columns of foams, stretch-strained through distance. The New Silk Road is a hypercubist, multiperspectival tension sculpture par excellence, a litmus to the polyplural pin- universe of co-fragile influence spheres we now live in east-west convergence times.
Ariadna Serrahima - Translocal Practices of Care
My research investigates daily performed gestures that operate within minority communities as active forms of resistance. To explore this terrain, I will examine the socio-political complicities between Catalunya and Kurdistan and how these two stateless peoples have shared forms of self-management practices at the margins of capitalist infrastructures, inspired by the “anarchist” and “collectivist” period that took place in Barcelona during the 1930s. Therefore, I will be working with the Kurdish Community Centre in London and the “Cooperativa Integral Catalana” in Barcelona in order to examine how both collectives develop multiple forms of assembly and communal gathering as fundamental practices of care, and through which they generate a common space for transformation, reorganisation, insistence, resistance and daily protest. How does the micro-political challenge the scale of action and appearance in the struggles of our contemporaneity?
Clive Vella - Sound as Catalyst in the Siege of Sarajevo
The Siege of Sarajevo, during the Yugoslavian wars, incorporates disparate layers that extend from the logistical, architectural, affective, and beyond, making it an ideal case study in which a sound-based analysis raises the question of how these high-stake situations, incorporating predominantly acoustic phenomena, provoke territorial reconfiguration. By focusing on singular points of the Siege such as sniper attacks, we can consider how the relationship of occlusion between sniper and target can be deeply analysed as a consequence of the de/codifying juxtaposition of the disparate speeds and phenomenal components of the bullet. Implying, in addition, that the observation and interpretation of how counter-sniper activities unfolded over time in response to the bullet as territorial agent, may grant us an outlook on the effect of sound within active engagement, sound as a catalyst to complex material mobilisations, changes in pace, mobility, distribution of supplies, and changes in infrastructural flow.
Liza Walling - Albedo: Reflecting on Mental Health
Today, light is a potential cause of poor mental health, administered as a treatment, and used to “image” a condition which is exceptionally non-visible. We see this through Seasonal Affective Disorder’s (SAD) widespread diagnoses and eco-anxiety’s penetration of popular media. My research deals with geospatioal medicine and light conditions. It studies how artificial and natural light have been deployed to act as a solar prothesis at various scales; the cityscape, the bed, and the protein. Light has become an inter scalar device explaining and creating relationships between minds, bodies, and environments.
Class of 2017
Evangelia Argyrou (Greece), Henry Bradley (UK), Sebastian Clark (US/UK), Sophie Dyer (UK), Sami Hammana (NL), Linda Kinstler (US), Conor Lorigan (NZ), Fadi Mansour (Lebanon), Greg McLaren (UK), Rosa Rogina (Croatia), Eeva Sarlin (Finland), Solveig Suess (China), Lua Vollaard (NL), Leonie Weber (Germany), Oren Ziv (Israel)
Evangelia Argyrou - Reinterpreting Stereotypes
My research explores the concept of stereotypes as a process linked to the transformation and the production of space, as a strategy and tactic to generate value and to solidify a political or social condition. It analyses signs, representations and repetitive practices in the Aegean Archipelago, human conflicts and the act of inhabiting, as a means to delve into its current condition. The Greek society is ‘in becoming’ unveiling the antinomies and tensions inherent in the coexistence of potential economic development and nostalgia-driven models, it is a platform where multiple desires, expectations and forces clash, and where an icon is constructed and deconstructed at the same time.
Henry Bradley - Managed Imaginaries: A Crisis of Anticipation
My practice is located at the intersection of cinema, theatre and performance art. My current research has followed processes of live rehearsal as they continue to move from theatre into contemporary forms of preparation for future events. Although used most evidently within medical and military fields, the phenomena of simulation and virtuality are increasingly found within a range of more intimate moments in both public and private sectors. Exploring these moments of preparation, a series of pressures, imaginaries, policies and desires begin to emerge, as the subject or event becomes constructed through various forms of capitalist-pedagogy.
Sebastian Clark - Earth-Writing
My research examines geography as a discipline in image-making. After all, geography means ‘earth-writing’: it is the written practice of interpreting and imagining the Earth and its natural processes. As is evidenced by its historical implication in colonial networks of power, geography is never apolitical. Writing (or depicting) earth always determines how the Earth’s surface is written upon, inscribed by patterns of land use and systems of property. My investigations proceed from the belief that today’s political and ecological quagmire stems from the failure of geography to conjure adequate words and images: a failure to make the dire state of the Earth legible. In pursuit of a new environmentalism, I examine modes of earth-writing that can, in accord with Michel Serres’ philosophy, draw up a natural contract: visualising invisible processes of violence and establishing alternative forms of coexistence. In my reappraisal of geography as a creative discipline, I explore histories of technology and urban form as well as document contemporary land struggles.
Sami Hammana - Geofinance: Spatial-material Derivatives
The 2007-2008 financial crisis unfolded several narratives of how capital-power restructures society, but one thing in particular sticks out, namely that the derivative market holds more wealth than the combined GDP of all nation states on earth. Does this mean that the derivative market’s influence and reach surpasses the Westphalian understanding of nation state sovereignty? And moreover, what does this mean in a time where the conditions of the Anthropocene and climate politics are ever more pertinent? If this is true then the actual restructuring powers will not be within nation states anymore, but rather in the derivative market itself, thus contradicting the commonplace argument that derivative finance is ‘immaterial’. This project suggests that derivatives have material and actual spatial ramifications, rendering finance as having a spatial materialist ontology and effectively positioning derivative finance as a key player in the Anthropocene.
Linda Kinstler - Memory After Forensics
My research explores the memorial techniques applied to sites of atrocity in Eastern Europe, particularly sites of forensic interest, with the aim of probing how forensic researchers approach the delicate 'topography of terror'. My work will focus on Babi Yar, outside Kiev, Ukraine, specifically, investigating the history of archaeological erasure and violence that still haunt the soil of the former ravine. My research questions how the digital turn in forensic aesthetics alters the practice of memorialization, and how techniques like virtual and augmented reality have been mobilized for investigative, memorial, and archaeological ends.
Fadi Mansour - Dream Land / the techno-engineered restitution of a disfigured landscape
My research explores the libidinal and financial dimensions of the construction of new territories created by accumulations of waste landfill in areas of conflict. I will explore these sites as examples of an on-going post-traumatic condition following the disfiguration of a landscape. In Lebanon, the prolonged waste management crisis permeates the familiar surroundings with a lingering toxicity. Vast amounts of municipal solid waste piled up at street corners, stored along riverbeds, hidden and dumped in forests, valleys and seashores, become the embodiment of environmental destruction. If the material destruction of war impacts upon buildings and cities, the trash crisis takes a hold of what has been seemingly spared: the air, water and soil. Land reclamation becomes a project of restitution, looking towards the clear horizon and turning away from the disfigured landscape. But this new land, engineered from the transformation of waste landfill, increases the level of toxicity by infiltrating the soil and groundwater while increasing air pollution.
Rosa Rogina - Croatian Landmine Crisis: Environmental Harm in Delay
My research explores implications of humanitarian demining and land management in post-conflict Croatia. Utilising Andrew Barry’s exploration into material politics, this project will approach the demined soil from the area not as an isolated material but as a part of “dynamic, informed assemblages”. Combining research from the fields of demining, biology and social sciences will play a critical part in arguing that the processes of mine clearance serves to construct a new temporality of violence within the local environment. Using the case of the Croatian War of Independence in the early nineties, this project will aim to develop new aesthetic tools and ways of mapping the environmental violence of demining. In constructing this extended temporal framework of the conflict, I will challenge the issue of who should be accountable for the damage caused.
Eeva Sarlin - The New Nokia: Futurities of Mining in Finnish Lapland
My research looks at mining in Finnish Lapland and the so-called new Nokia as identified by the President of Finland. As global mineral resources become scarcer, the formerly postcolonial practices of extraction seep into the western world. Finland, a developed European country actively embraces this development as it has huge mineral wealth and amongst the lowest effective taxations on mining internationally. Using Rob Nixon’s notion of slow violence, I am exploring the extent of mining and the environmental destruction caused by the new Nokia. The focus is on the Kittilä Suurikuusikko mine - the biggest gold mine in Europe, operated by a Canadian mining company.
Solveig Suess - Alibis and Aliens
My research finds its urgencies through the various cosmologies which co-construct global supply-chains, weighed by their deeper times of development and imperialism. I’m currently inquiring into the New Silk Road, where it was Hewlett-Packard who had initiated negotiations for the construction of the alternate rail route ‘defined not only according to business logic, but also with a certain strategic calculation’. Here, mechanisms of modulation and forecasting are central drivers for violent re-organisations of geographies; where control over time and motion is calculated to serve a desire of unhinged flow for some and increased regulation for others. My practice has been a pattern-making of both documentary and imaginary counter-narratives, which instead looks at how seemingly disparate sequences collude together into unsettling these streamlined operations and imagining alternative futurities of worlds, however temporary.
Leonie Weber - Para-sites or Common Toxicity: The Marginalization of People, Soil and other Entities in the Urban
With the disappearance of the outside and the acknowledgement of ubiquitous entanglement we must rethink our understanding of mutuality. Reciprocity is multi-dimensional and relationships are not necessarily apparent. The intangibility of interconnectedness exceeds scales of time, location and space perceivable to individuals and societies. By using the different meanings of para- as a vantage point I investigate three fields: empathy, toxicity and architectural activism. I aim to discover how the marginalization of entities in the urban context are exposed to similar dynamics, and in return how their juxtaposition might offer a different perspective on precarity and the organisation of space. Drawing on my involvement with various architectural and activist situations, I aim to present concurrencies of marginalized people and soils entangled through different modes of toxicity. The ecology of soils is irreparably altered and contaminated. Thus we have to abandon the belief in recovering a pure past in our future. Ecological toxicity is our new – or continuous – ground.
Oren Ziv - The Facebook Prisoners
My research focuses on the Israeli use of social media in order to arrest, prosecute and jail Palestinians in the West Bank and within Israel. I am investigating how data and algorithms become part of the policing methods used against Palestinians, and how this connects to the translation and reading of images and text that they post on social media. Whilst some Israeli security experts claim that social media can create a new model to locate and control ‘incitement’, I argue that that there is a direct line between classic policing methods used in the occupation territories, and the tactics used today to bring charges of ‘incitement’ against Palestinians for online activity. In considering the ways the authorities ‘read and translate’ Palestinian social media posts, I would argue that the algorithm, the policemen, the judge, and the prosecutor all affect the way in which cases are being processed; creating a framework that allows almost any Palestinian activity on social media to be determined ‘incitement’. In my field research, I interview, photograph and film Palestinians (and one Israeli) that were arrested for their social media activism, asking them to re-read the words that led to their arrest.
Class of 2016
Alice Bucknell (US), Phoebe Eustance (UK), Alexia Giacomazzi (Australia), Ming Lin (US), Emma McCormick-Goodhart (UK), Dana Ozaino (Palesntine), Pietro Pezzani (ITA), Robert Preusse (CH), Blanca Pujals (Spain), Laurie Robins (UK), Elena Solis (Spain), Alexandra Symons Sutcliffe (UK)
Phoebe Eustance - A Manual for Listening to Quiet
To become quiet is often regarded in a similar way to becoming passive, signifying that one has weakened their capacity to act in a situation. If to speak is to validate a person's existence - does being quiet mean that the person is no longer participating or has given up their right to act?
The condition of quiet is an intrinsic part of all relations, yet our contemporary political culture has consigned it to exist in the background of events. This thesis aims to construct or activate a field of thought around the condition of quiet and the ways in which we register presence. Here, quiet is considered firstly through the notion of presence as a political form that precedes speech, and secondly through deconstructing the relationship between quiet and power.
Ming Lin - Slow Sea, Fast Fashion: Poetics of the Supply Chain
My research considers landscapes and architectures of supply and demand, the politics of production and the mytho-poetic narratives running through the network of global logistics. Taking its starting point from a specific industry lore – which attributes fast fashion chain ZARA’s inimitable success to alleged factories on water – my project at the Centre for Research Architecture explores the apparently seamless spaces of the supply chain in an effort to reclaim these largely obscured movements of circulation from the rhetoric of efficiency and progress. Destabilizing conventional narratives of global distribution as smooth, technologically advanced, and just-in-time, this work seeks to contribute instead to a postcolonial discourse through the articulation of vast networks as subjective, queer and rife with friction.
Pietro Pezzani - Drawing Borders: Genealogy, Aesthetics and Politics of Digital Targeting
Targeting is the act of addressing an entity by identifying its borders. It is an operation adopted to classify – to divide a population or a space into homogeneous groups or regions – and to detect – to make a figure emerge from its background.
Targeting can be understood as a spatial diagram following a logic of economization. This is true both in pragmatic and in aesthetic terms: in fact, on the one hand, its diagram is mobilized whenever the scarcity of available resources makes it inconvenient or impossible to direct an operation in an indiscriminate fashion.
In its materialization, targeting depends on the construction of highly asymmetrical points of view. In this respect, and following Gilles Deleuze, if the "form of the visible" is the privileged site of production of objects of power relations, targeting is a technology of vision that corresponds to a mode of governmentality: its diagram currently presides over operations aimed at directing both human and machinic labor, distributing resources and assessing the opportunity of military attack.
Through my research, I tried to prove how the rise of digital technologies of inscription and computation caused a shift of the very space where targeting operations take place. As data became the privileged “environment” of new forms of visibility – forms that have prescinded from human vision altogether – targeting turned into one of the most powerful aesthetic/governmental diagrams at work today. By turning to abstract, purely numeric multidimensional spatialities and sophisticated algorithmic methods of border production, digital technology made it possible to simultaneously detect and produce incomparably more complex entities, whose nature is heterogeneous, probabilistic and totally – even mathematically – dependent on the contingent needs of the targeting subject.
Robert Preusse - Spectral Apperception
My research investigates new perspectives emerging from meta-communication. It inquires into the data-double that follows and precedes movement in space, focusing upon trace anomalies of interception in the cellular telecommunications network of London. This infrastructure of identification is examined through the policies, protocols, and spatial and social relationships of communication. Consequently I ask how perception is ingrained through a dialectic of revealing and withdrawing, and whether composition allows for a cognition of perception – a form of apperception – to emerge.
Blanca Pujals - A Synthetic Sun: The Unmaking of Microscopic Bonds in Transnational Space
‘A Synthetic Sun’ is a research and film project exploring the aesthetic and political impacts of the underground network of elemental particle infrastructures. The project investigates the entangled relationships between big scientific institutions and political realms, and the forms of networked knowledge generated therein. These spaces become sensing architectures that amplify networks, political agreements and non-visible or barely detectable events. They are comprised of a number of scientists, particles, liquids, data, politics and technologies working together for the production of knowledge. The film is accompanied by a Google Map Archive, which illustrates the interrelations between these architectures through geolocation, images and data, and can be ‘explored’ by the user. I am interested in the physical and spatial articulations of contemporary science and how subatomic particles create a political form. Elemental particles create new forms of alliances and global networks; infrastructures which produce hybrid systems of transnational and transhuman collaboration.
Alexandra Symons Sutcliffe - Techniques of Fidelity
'Techniques of Fidelity' is a curatorial project is driven by research into mechanisms of faithful reproduction alongside the conditions that prohibit it. Fidelity can mean precision and exactitude, but it can also relate to emotional and sexual relationships, religion, consistency and commitment. It is possible to be faithful to an object or code but it is equally possible to faithful to an ideal, an image or a fantasy. A faithful technique can be a method of enlargement or extension or pedagogical mobilisation. By focusing on dance, performance and movement studies across varied media, ‘Techniques of Fidelity’ investigates the challenges present in the display of live and corporeal art. The inevitable failures of verbatim re-presentation and the study of display create a space for knowledge that simultaneously exceeds and resists representation. As the paradoxical title suggests, this work’s methodology is based in the comparison of objects and materials, through which the project outlines a definition of faithful practice.
Class of 2015
Stine Ailling Jacobsen (Visual Culture, Denmark), Phoebe Eustance (Artist & Botanist, UK), Eldar Ganz (Architect, Israel), Hania Halabi (Architect, Palestine), Thomas Jenkins (Architect, UK), Ion Maleas (Architect, Greece), Pietro Pezzani (Architect, Italy), Grace Phillipps (Geographer & Poet, USA), Laurie Robbins (Graphic Designer & Wolf Specialist, UK), Sam Stork (Architect, UK), Alexandra Symons Sutcliffe (Art Critic & Historian, UK)\
Hania Halabi - Through the Scopic Lens:
Geology, Agency & Secrecy of Fallahin Architecture
On May 4th 2015, High Court Judge Noam Solberg rejected a petition for an interim order that would freeze the implementation of demolition orders issued against homes in the village of Khirbet Susya, a tiny encampment of tents and shacks in Area C within the West Bank, where a few hundred people are still hanging onto what is left of their ancestral lands. They do so in the face of the Israeli Civil Administration, which could uproot the entire village of 80 structures at any moment following that decision. In Summer 2015, when I was writing my dissertation and preparing for MARA’s exhibition, the whole village lives on the brink of eviction, awaiting a fateful decision from a pending court hearing.
In my research into the conflict of Susya, I transform the photograph of the Concrete Tent into my scopic research tool. Using it both as a microscope for viewing small details, and as a telescope for making remote observations and broad-scale spatial analysis. In doing so, I allow sight to extend over a spectrum of scales, across which the conflict unfolds. This opens up a field of vision that reaches beyond the limits of what is visible inside the image’s frame. By analysing the envelope of the Concrete Tent, I show how the concrete and fabric strata delineate the borders of the village’s white, grey and black spaces, and explain their materiality in relation to the village’s ground jurisdictional pattern.
Grace Phillips - Lines of Sight: A Meteorological History
My dissertation plotted the history of meteorology within the expansion of the British Empire, exploring the problem taking an invisible material (the air) as an object of science. By tracing the circulation and distribution of a set of materials - a popular British weather broadcast called the Shipping Forecast, the Forecast's metric the Beaufort Scale, developments in glass-making for scientific instruments, and a networked architecture of observation - I sought to understand the role of the visual in the production of knowledge.
My research examined the difficulty of engaging with an object that cannot be seen in its totality from any one vantage point. It highlighted implications in an observation practice that occurs when an object of study is only visible as it appears in other things (i.e. wind). The project questioned the possibility of objective vantage points and the priority of objects over relations in modern epistemologies. Taking a cue from the poetry of the early wind measuring systems, the work resolved by suggesting a need for further exploration of embedded vantage points.
Class of 2014
Yasmine Abboud (Architect, Lebanon), Olympia Anesti (Architect, Greece), Nick Axel (Architect, US), Jacob Burns (Activist & Art History BA, UK), Jesse Connuck (BA History, US), Rodrigo Delso (Architect, Spain), Helene Kazan (Artist, UK), Yi-Hui Lin (Designer, Taiwan), Frank Mandell (Literature, US), Hannah Meszaros Martin (Artist, US), Basima Sisemore (Peace & Conflict Studies, Palestine & US), Alan Yates (Artist, UK)
Nick Axel - Grounding Deregulation
On August 8th, 2005, George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Policy Act and deregulated the production technique of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. Fracking is a supplemental step in the traditional process of drilling for oil and gas that occurs between well completion and production. Fluid is injected down into the well at high pressure to rupture the geological formation and release and oil and gas trapped within its structure. Fracking allows for petroleum to be extracted from places where it would be impossible to do so otherwise. The most significant effect of its deregulation was that the scope of industrial interest was drastically expanded to encompass significantly more land area than was conceived of previously as viable for oil and gas production. In other words, what fracking does geologically, it also did economically. Fracking reconfigured the speculative logics of development and its deregulation was immediately followed by a land grab for un-owned mineral rights.
I wanted to understand how it could be possible to intervene within such a dramatic and rapid process of territorial development that propagates grave ecological risk, along with political disenfranchisement across the American landscape. The object of my study could be thought of as the political architecture of democracy, rights as they are institutionally situated and geographically distributed. My unique contribution to the ongoing debate surrounding fracking was the exposition of a new terrain for intervention, that of the regulatory device called unitization. The work presented was produced to represent the relation between an individual plot of land and international networks of speculation.
Class of 2013
Andrea Bagnato (Architect, Italy), Jennifer Boyd, Jessica Donato, Hannah Husberg (Art, Sweden), Daniel Fernandes Pascual (Architect, Spain), Bhavika Patel (Interior Architecture & Design, UK), Elina Pelvanidi (Archtect, Greece), Maria-Angeliki Sakellariou, Alon Schwabe (Performance Artist, Israel), Doron Van Beider (Architect, Israel)
Class of 2012
Palwasha Amanullah (Architect, Pakistan), Nadia Barhoum (Political Economist, US), Remco de Blaaij (Curator, NL), Eva Dietrich (Architect, Germany), Daniel Fernández Pascual (Architect, Spain), Blake Fisher (Architect, USA), Mirko Gatti (Architect, Italy), Janet Hall (Architect, Northern Ireland), Samir Harb (Architect, Palestine), Irmelin Joelson (Sociologist, Sweden), Heejung Kim (Architect, South Korea), Steffen Kraemer (Media Theorist & Filmmaker, Germany), Chris Molinski (Curator, US), Corinne Quin (Interior Designer, UK)
Blake Fisher - Applied Idleness: On the Economy of Pastoral Images
The pastoral mode reaches back to the known origins of language and human settlement. In many ways, it has been a cultural site through which the transitional condition between settlement/movement, leisure/work, and otium/negotium has found poetic expression. In other words, it has served as a register for the emergence of governance and urbanization.
Readings of the pastoral sometimes presume the mode to be a reductive stand-in for nostalgia and loss of former Edenic utopias, or of the pre-modern in general. However, such cursory readings fail to recognize its potential to redirect power toward those caught in the crossfire of the violence of state formation. In fact, such presumptions depoliticize the mode while trivializing its capacity to depict the banal and inoperative – depictions that may resist being caught up in power’s production of artifice and glory.
‘Applied Idleness: On the Economy of Pastoral Images’ tracks some of these co-opted images through a contemporary landscape of state violence, that is, Afghanistan during the U.S. military occupation that has been continuous since 2001. It follows a series of images in which Central and Southern Asian artifacts, natural resources, and poems are fed through an American salvation machine and transformed into tactics for primitive accumulation and economic development. Thus, the pastoral mode is refocused through a political-theological lens that intertwines issues of sovereignty, poetics, and visual culture.