Professor Susan Schuppli

Susan uses media artefacts in her investigative processes to explore contemporary conflict and state violence.

Staff details

Professor Susan Schuppli


Director & Professor in the Centre for Research Architecture


Visual Cultures


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Susan Schuppli is an artist-researcher and writer. She is currently Director & Reader of the Centre for Research Architecture. Through investigative processes that involve an engagement with scientific and technical modes of inquiry, her work aims to open up new conceptual pathways into the material strata of our world.

While many projects have examined media artefacts—photographs, film, video, and audio transmissions—that have emerged out of sites of contemporary conflict and state violence, current work explores the ways in which toxic ecologies from nuclear accidents and oil spills to the dark snow of the arctic are producing an “extreme image” archive of material wrongs. Creative projects have been exhibited throughout Europe as well as in Canada, Asia and the US.

She has published widely within the context of media and politics and am author of the forthcoming book, Material Witness (MIT Press), which is also the subject of an experimental documentary. 

She is an affiliate artist-researcher and Board Chair of Forensic Architecture. Previously she was Senior Research Fellow and Project Co-ordinator of Forensic Architecture. In 2016 she recieved the ICP Infinity Award for Research and Critical Writing.

Academic qualifications 

  • PhD Cultural Studies & Research Architecture (Goldsmiths, University of London) 2009
  • Whitney Independent Study Program 1996
  • MFA Media Arts (University of California San Diego) 1995
  • BA Fine & Performing Arts (Simon Fraser University) 1991


Prior to teaching at Goldsmiths , Susan was based in Canada where she was Associate Professor in Visual Art at Western University, Assistant Professor at the University of Lethbridge and an Instructor at Emily Carr.

Area of supervision

Susan welcomes research proposals that situate themselves at the intersections between space, politics, aesthetics, and media. She supervises dissertations that are rigorously theoretical yet pursue their research inquires through practical engagements with materials, sites and processes. Whether these are creative projects or emerge out of ethnographic fieldwork they are understood to be the means by which research is pursued and ideas tested.

Of particular interest are projects that examine architectures of media in recognition of the increasing significance that media plays in our access to and analysis of spaces of political conflict. From the micro-scale of buildings and infrastructure to the macro-scale of borders and global flows, space is understood as an elastic medium constantly reshaped by political and mediatic forces. 


Publications and research outputs


Schuppli, Susan. 2020. Material Witness: Media, Forensics, Evidence. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. ISBN 9780262043571

Book Section

Schuppli, Susan. 2019. Arguments: Should Videos of Trees have Standing? An Inquiry into the Legal Rites of Unnatural Objects at the ICTY. In: Richard K. Sherwin and Danielle Celermajer, eds. A Cultural History of Law in the Modern Age. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 99-128. ISBN 9781474212854

Schuppli, Susan. 2018. Should Videos of Trees have Standing? An Inquiry into the Legal Rites of Unnatural Objects at the ICTY. In: Danielle Celermajer and Richard Sherwin, eds. A Cultural History of Law in the Modern Age. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781474212854

Schuppli, Susan. 2017. Computing the Law / Searching for Justice. In: Boris Buden,; Maria Hlavajova and Simon Sheikh, eds. Former West Art and the Contemporary after 1989. MIT Press: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262533836


Schuppli, Susan. 2014. “Deadly Algorithms: Can Legal Codes hold Software accountable for Code that Kills?”. Radical Philosophy(187), pp. 2-8. ISSN 0300-211X

Schuppli, Susan. 2013. “Half Truths”. Mute,

Schuppli, Susan. 2013. “Walk-Back Technology: Dusting for Fingerprints and Tracking Digital Footprints.”. Photographies, 6(1), pp. 159-167. ISSN 1754-0763


Schuppli, Susan. September - October 2021 initial period of fieldwork HEAR: Himalayan Experiments in Acoustic Research.

Schuppli, Susan. 2021-22 COLD POLITICS.

Schuppli, Susan. 2013-22 GEO-MEDIA.

Exhibition Catalogue

Schuppli, Susan. 2017. Le subterfuge des écrans / The Subterfuge of Screens.


Schuppli, Susan. 2017. The Images of War. In: "The Images of War", Stockholm, Sweden, 20 September 2017 – 14 January 2018.

Schuppli, Susan. 2017. Moscow Biennale. In: "Clouds ⇄ Forests", Moscow, Russian Federation, 19 September 2017 – 18 January 2018.

Schuppli, Susan. 2017. Material Truths. In: "Material Truths", Site Gallery, Sheffield, United Kingdom.

Art Object

Schuppli, Susan. 2019. Disaster Film.

Schuppli, Susan. 2016. Delay Decay.

Schuppli, Susan. 2015. Uneasy Listening.

Artist's Book

Schuppli, Susan. 2022. Singing Ice: Ladakhi folk songs about mountains, glaciers, rivers, and steams.


Schuppli, Susan. 2022. ICE RECORDS: Sonic explorations of the climate records captured in ice sheets and glaciers.

Schuppli, Susan. 2022. Community Satellite Station.

Schuppli, Susan. 2017. Unnatural Media.

Conference or Workshop Item

Schuppli, Susan. 2018. 'Shapes of Decay: A Discussion about Art and Ecology'. In: Shapes of Decay: A Discussion about Art and Ecology. Tate Modern, United Kingdom 24 APRIL 2018.

Schuppli, Susan. 2018. 'Evidence in 74 million million million tons'. In: Evidence in 74 million million million tons. New York, United States April 29, 2018.


Schuppli, Susan. 2024. Moving Ice.

Schuppli, Susan. 2023. Listening to Ice.

Schuppli, Susan. 2022. Gondwana.

Professional Activity

Schuppli, Susan. 2017. Consultant to the V&A.


Schuppli, Susan. 2009. Entangled Matters: Analogue Futures & Political Pasts. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London

Research Interests

Material Witness

This research introduces a new operative concept — the material witness — an entity (object or unit) whose physical properties or technical configuration records evidence of passing events to which it can bear witness. Whether these events register as a by-product of an unintentional encounter or as an expression of direct action, history and by extension politics is registered at these junctures of ontological intensity. Moreover, in disclosing these encoded events, the material witness makes ‘evident’ the very conditions and practices that convert such eventful materials into matters of evidence.

Through the series of case studies I chart the appearance of a material witness that arises first out of the physical substances of filmic emulsion, magnetic particles, photo-chemistry, metal and dust and then later out of the immaterial realms of bandwidth and code. I track these entities in order to explore the ways in which matter archives and refracts the complex histories of violence in which it is implicated and, by extension, examine the condition of informed materiality that discloses its processing, renders visible the systems in which it is embedded, and activates its political potential.

The crucial role that forensics plays in this research is not that of an investigative technical probe directed towards uncovering the ‘true’ reality-traces and absolute histories encoded by matter as might be the case with the practices of forensic science. Rather its role is that of highlighting what new understandings are required of matter and the processes whereby matter comes to matter discursively, in order for the material witness to overcome its purely legal designation or metaphoric expression and function as an operative concept in its own right: material as witness.