#1069: Forensic Architecture’s Spatial Storytelling Innovations Awarded with Peabody Institution Award

Forensic Architecture is an innovative interdisciplinary, non-profit research group that uses the tools & techniques of architecture to tell spatial stories of state-sponsored violence and human rights. Their 79 investigations since 2010 have be awarded with a Peabody Institution Award as a part of the new category of Digital & Immersive Storytelling. They use the spatial context to weave together many different types of data including “open-source data, satellite data, surveillance footage, citizen video, audio, mobile phone meta-data, witness testimony, and 3D representations of physical objects and people.” They have been pioneering the fusion of this media as they strive to produce a spatial context that is elevated to the rigor of evidence that could be admitted into a court of law. They’ve been using lots of techniques like photogrammetry and reconstruction of 3D models, and they hope one day to put a judge into a virtual reality headset to display some of their spatial stories & spatial contextualization of evidence. They lean heavily into concepts like “situated knowledges” & “situated testimony” to use these spatial contexts to evoke eye witness testimony for state-sponsored violence and human rights violations. I had a chance to talk with Forensic Architecture Research Coordinator Robert Trafford about the underlying design philosophies, and an overview of some of the spatial storytelling innovations that have earned them a Peabody Award.


The Killing of Mark Duggan [uses VR for embodied perspective]

Cameroon’s Secret Torture Chambers

The Beating of Faisal al-Natsheh, Occupied Hebron, Palestine [uses VR for situated testimony]

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Music: Fatality