Archive for the ‘Forensics’ Category

SITU Research joins panel discussion about US drone debate at Studio-X

This past Thursday, SITU Research participated in a panel discussion titled “Landscapes of Secrecy: Data and Reporting in the Drone Debate”, hosted by Columbia University GSAPP’s Studio-X New York and Bard’s Center for the Study of the Drone, and moderated by Arthur Holland Michel from Bard’s Center for the Study of the Drone.

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Brad Samuels, Partner at SITU Research, Naureen Shah, Legislative Counsel at the ACLU, and data artist and web developer Josh Begley talked about the gathering and reconstruction of data regarding US drone strikes in the context of their practices. All three panelists stressed how important it is for the law makers’ and the general public’s understanding of the nature and extent of U.S. targeted killing operations to not only gather reliable data on civilian deaths by drone strikes, but also to disseminate this data in an accessible format.

SITU Research shared a recently launched interactive website presented as part of UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s drone inquiry, detailing 30 drone strikes in five different countries.

A screenshot of the web-based platform that maps - and collects information and media relevant to - each of the thirty strikes the UN Special Rapporteur has called for further investigation of. © Forensic Architecture in collaboration with SITU Research, 2014.

A screenshot of the UN SRCT Drone Inquiry website
© Forensic Architecture in collaboration with SITU Research, 2014.

Naureen Shah highlighted how personal narratives in Amnesty International USA reports on drone strikes impact the broader public, and described how detailed on-the-ground accounts and in-depth interviews help to put a human face on the statistics.

Data artist Josh Begley’s intervention is an app that disrupts its users’ daily routine by sending push notifications directly to the mobile device in their pocket whenever a drone attack happens. These real-time alerts for every reported United States drone strike can also be added to an application programming interface (API) – a collection of building blocks for software development that allows anyone with basic coding skills to organize, analyze and visualize drone strike data dating back to 2002.

Josh Bogley’s Metadata+ app sends real-time alerts for every reported United States drone strike to its users.

Josh Bogley’s Metadata+ app sends real-time alerts for
every reported United States drone strike to its users.

This event was the second in the Studio-X Global series on Security Regimes, which examines global spaces of exception, from supermax prisons to territories where mass surveillance or lethal targeting are allowed in the name of security. The series will be followed by a collaborative publication by Studio-X, the Center for the Study of the Drone, the New Institute and dpr-barcelona.

SITU Research participates in FORENSIS exhibition at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.

Operating within the frame of the Forensic Architecture project, work produced by SITU Research will be presented at the upcoming exhibition and conference FORENSIS at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin.

The FORENSIS brief states:
The exhibition will explore the procedures, tools, and spatial arrangements used in forensics, as well as the potential of a new aesthetic-political practice. FORENSIS seeks to invert the direction of the forensic gaze and designate the emergence of new aesthetic-political practices by which individuals and independent organizations use new technologies, aesthetic practices, and architectural methodologies to bear upon a range of issues from political struggle to violent conflict and climate change.

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Image from the 3D virtual model reconstruction of the scene at the moment of the shooting of Bassem Abu Rahma | © Forensic Architecture and SITU Research.

Working in close collaboration with the team at Forensic Architecture, SITU Research’s role has been to provide spatial analyses and visualizations pertaining to inquiries into international human rights violations across a broad array of sites and scales. As part of this work, SITU has worked with Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights (UNSRCT), Human Rights Watch and B’tselem, among others. Investigation subjects include the impact of drone strikes on civilians, the use of indiscriminate munitions in densely populated urban environments and the death of migrants at sea. For more information on these projects and others visit http://situresearch.com/human-rights.

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Image of the reconstruction of a drone strike in Datta Khel, Pakistan that occurred on 17 March 2011
© Forensic Architecture and SITU Research.

In the accompanying conference “The Architecture of Public Truth” on March 15th and 16th, SITU Research will discuss this new territory for designers and architects, and their potential role in politics, science, society, and the environment.

FORENSIS will be on display from March 15th – May 5th, 2014.
The opening reception will take place on March 14th, 6pm.
The “The Architecture of Public Truth” conference will be held on March 15th and 16th.

Work by Forensic Architecture and SITU Research presented as part of UN inquiry into Drone Strikes

Today marks the public launch of a web-based platform created by Forensic Architecture (Goldsmiths, University of London) and SITU Research for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson.

A screenshot of the web-based platform that maps - and collects information and media relevant to - each of the thirty strikes the UN Special Rapporteur has called for further investigation of. © Forensic Architecture in collaboration with SITU Research, 2014.

The website provides an online presence for the Special Rapporteur’s inquiry into civilian casualties by drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza. The report calls for increased government transparency and documentation of drone strikes when civilian casualties are known or suspected.

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The web-based platform focuses on the 30 drone strikes that are included in the Special Rapporteur’s report. The strikes are  geospatially located and are correlated with additional information provided by Emmerson’s report. Forensic Architecture’s work also analyzes several strikes in greater detail by synthesizing multiple sources of data including photographs, interviews, and satellite imagery and the resultant spatial analyses are shown through short videos.

The online platform can be accessed here.

A short demonstration video of the platform can be found here.

The videos and stills detailing the four cases can be viewed here.

Situ Research: Division and Website Launch

Last week we launched Situ Research, a site dedicated to interdisciplinary design work that addresses urgent contemporary spatial issues. Over the past few years we have collaborated with human rights organizations, scientists, city planners and lawyers on vide range of projects, all collected on our new website

Situ Research associates McKenna Cole and Charles-Antoine Perrault share a few words about their investigations on two current research projects.

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Deforestation patterns, militarization, and urban development in the Ixil territory are strongly correlated. This map illustrates how Guatemalan government’s “Model Village Program” participated in the destruction of Ixil people’s natural environment.

Charles is working on the investigation of a genocide case in Guatemala – A project undertaken in collaboration with Forensic Architecture and Paulo Tavares.  From March 1982 to August 1983, General Efraín Ríos Montt ruled the country with an iron fist during one of the bloodiest periods of its long civil war. Montt is now facing accusations of crime against humanity and genocide against Mayan groups before the National Court of Guatemala. Charles is producing a set of time-based maps and visualizations representing Rios Montt government’s intent to destroy a particular ethnic group. “Leveraging a broad range of evidentiary material (military logs, exhumation data, historical pictures, satellite images…), we reveal intersections between military operations, indiscriminate violence against civilian populations, systematic destruction and relocation of indigenous communities, and transformations in the urban and natural environment.” This work is intended to enter as evidence in Ríos Montt’s trial and will be integrated in a publicly accessible online geospatial platform.

Explore more Situ Research projects on Human Rights issues here

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Image of PLUTO Dataset joined with building footprints translated into a 3d model of the Jackson Heights section of Queens.

McKenna is engaged in the development of the research for Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities a fourteen-month long workshop series culminating in exhibition at MoMA in November 2014. Situ is collaborating on this project with Cohabitation Strategies. Mckenna explains: “We’re reaching out to other practitioners, organizations and non-profits in the process of trying to formulate a clear understanding of the unevenness in New York City as it is physically manifested in disparate housing conditions, access to infrastructure, and policies at large. We’re analyzing and manipulating publicly available datasets to help us understand housing conditions on both a city-wide and neighborhood scale. Mapping and modeling are being used simultaneously in order to visualize the spatial implications of the data being used.”

Learn more about our participation in the first workshop at MoMA PS1 and keep an eye on the blog for updates as we visit Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in mid-December.

Explore past blog posts on Situ Research projects here

White Phosphorus Impact Analysis

The above is excerpted from the forthcoming Forensic Architecture/Situ Studio report on the use of White Phosphorous in densely populated urban environments. This animation is based upon footage from the Jan 17th 2009, White Phosphorus strike on the Jabalya UNRWA school in Gaza. The incident was documented by the AFP photographer Mohammed Abed. These photographs are analyzed here in relation to a digital model of the surrounding context to elucidate a series of scenarios, as well as their potential effects, that may be expected at the architectural scale when air burst white phosphorus munitions are deployed.

More information about the project can be found HERE

“Spaces of Utopia/Dystopia” Seminar

 

Last weekend Situ presented some recent work on the Forensic Architecture project as part of the exhibition Troubling Spaces at the Zabludowicz Collection in London. The exhibition was curated by Helga Just Chistoffersen and Natasha Marie Llorens.

Photo: Tim Bowditch

Our talk focused on the ever increasing use of “Non-Lethal” weapons for operations in urban environments and situations of civil unrest. Two case studies were presented in which we explored the use of civilian video and photography in relation to the evolving and often murky legal contexts this type of warfare engenders. One of the case studies (above) is part of a report we are working on with Francesco Sebregondi of the Center for Research Architecture on the use of Air Burst White Phosphorus munitions in highly populated environments.

Photo: Tim Bowditch

On Friday, artist Avi Mugrabi screened his film Z32 and on Saturday he presented some of the work he is doing with the organization Breaking the Silence.

Photo: Tim Bowditch

Tom Keenan, Director of the Human Rights Project at Bard College, led a discussion on Sunday on the subject of battle and media-spaces of the Internet during the conflicts in Kosovo and Iraq.

Syria: Torture Centers Revealed

 

Human Rights Watch recently released a report titled, “Torture Archipelago: Arbitrary Arrests, Torture and Enforced Disappearances in Syria’s Underground Prisons since March 2011.” The report, based on more than 200 interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch with former detainees (including women, children, and elderly), outlines the extent of torture and ill-treatment at 27 identified detention facilities throughout Syria and recognizes the intelligence agencies responsible. Situ Studio and Forensic Architecture produced a series of diagrams depicting the overcrowded cell conditions in comparison with the international prison guidelines established by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (see below).

Forensic Oceanography

 

Situ Studio is working with Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani of the  Center for Research Architecture on a report titled Forensic  Oceanography that will be released this week. The report focuses on a  reconstruction of the chain of events that led to the death of 63 boat  migrants in the Mediterranean one year ago. This work is being done as  part of The European Research Council Project, Forensic Architecture,  Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Figures from this report have been included in a call for NATO to  provide information regarding this event featured on Human Rights Watch‘s website as well as in a report released by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) headed by Senator Tineke Strik.  This work was also featured in the March 29th issue of The Guardian.

Computational Forensics

Forensics Model Grid

Not unlike the technology used for Google Street View, rasterphotogrammetry reconstructs spatial relationships from basic ground-level photographs of an environment or event. Specialized self-calibrating and panoramic equipment merges the technologies of lasers and cameras, automatically generating 3D models. The digital model geometry is determined by compiled coordinates, collected through polyline tracing and point clouds of repeated objects over several photographs, and the model’s surface is textured with photograph imagery.

The full model maintains accurate measurements of the original environment and allows unlimited re-measuring, particularly useful in crime scene investigation. This reconstruction nearly eliminates the need for exhaustive data collection from disparate sources, including records, reports, and witness testimonies. Forensic models have proved instrumental in court cases that involve highly detailed or physically deconstructed scenes, or in cases that have resurfaced with new questions or unanticipated possibilities. (Images: DeltaSphere)

Bil In Report


Situ Studio’s report instrumental in reopening investigation into death of demonstrator during April 2009 West Bank protest:

View B’Tselem’s Press Release
View Situ Studio’s Report

This report was created by Situ Studio for Goldsmith’s College London’s Forensic Architecture Project and the human rights organization B’Tselem.

Project Team: Situ Studio with Therese Diede & Shiouwen Hong

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