Deep State

‘Deep State’ is a film by Karen Mirza and Brad Butler that has been scripted in collaboration with author China Miéville. The film takes its title from the Turkish term ‘Derin Devlet’, meaning ‘state within the state’. Although its existence is impossible to verify, this shadowy nexus of special interests and covert relationships is the place where real power is said to reside, and where fundamental decisions are made – decisions that often run counter to the outward impression of democracy.

Amorphous and unseen, the influence of this deep state is glimpsed at regular points throughout the film – most clearly surfacing in its reflexive responses to popular protest, and in legislated acts of violence and containment, but also rumbling and reverberating, deeper down, in an eternally recurring call-and-response between rhetorical positions and counter-languages, in which a raised fist, a thrown rock, a crowd surge, an occupation provoke a corresponding reaction in the form of a police charge, a baton attack, a pepper spray, assassinations.

A powerful undertow in the ongoing tide of history, this push and pull of competing forces is deftly illuminated in a vivid montage of newly filmed and archive footage. Collided together, past, present and future trace a continuum, in which the same repetitive patterns are played out. Against a backdrop of momentous, historically resonant demonstrations, an eternal rioter, or ‘riotonaut’, is picked out, as if by a searchlight, ever-present at each and every flashpoint. On a moonscape, confronted with a picket that becomes a riot, an ur-dictator, personification of the ‘Deep State’, blurts stupefying, hot-air abstractions of neo-liberalism.

9 May, 7pm @

‘Deep State’ is commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella. Funded by Arts Council England and London Councils.

RESEARCH ARCHITECTURE: A Laboratory for Critical Spatial Practices

Paradoxically perhaps, the Centre for Research Architecture sets out to question the two separate terms that make up its given title. It seeks to open up the discipline and praxis of 'architecture' – understood as the production of rarefied buildings and urban structures – into shifting network of 'spatial practices' that includes various other forms of intervention. It contests as well the utilitarian, applied, means-to-ends relation between knowledge and action that is evoked by the term 'research' and the artificial opposition between theory and practice it implies.

Forensic Oceanography

Forensic Oceanography (FO) maps the fluid cartographies between Libya and Italy to understand how more than 1500 persons could have perished at sea in the Spring of 2011.

FO provided the spatial analysis that lead to the Council of Europe report on NATO's responsibility for these deaths in the Mediterranean.

The Council of Europe report whose release was covered very widely in all major papers makes makes several references to FO research.
The Guardian has published our sequence of FO maps in this interactive feature.

FO also appears at Human Rights Watch summary of report. The research team is now completing a large report that will be submitted to NATO the EU and the relevant courts.

Mengele's Skull: the Advent of Forensic Aesthetics

Mengele’s Skull The Advent of a Forensic Aesthetic by Thomas Keenan and Eyal Weizman

In this absorbing study, Thomas Keenan and Eyal Weizman show how the politics of human rights was transformed by scientists who treated human remains as a form of photography and photography as a form of human remains. Exposed to all the details of a person’s life like a very sensitive negative, bones were made to speak. Victims and victimizers could now reappear in the lab and take their place in court. The arrival of forensic aesthetics is the arrival of the articulate object. This object that speaks occupies the position of the witness, and in so doing inaugurates a whole new chapter in justice. This fascinating book asks us to reconsider how facts are constructed and opens a new and expanded landscape for thinking.

-- Beatriz Colomina, Professor of Architecture and Founding Director of the Program in Media and Modernity, Princeton University


“In what ways, Keenan and Weizman ask, can the physical remains of the dead be made to speak? In this lucidly focused text on the exhumation of the historical past, the authors identify a crucial shift in the ongoing work of justice for the victims of state violence and accountability for perpetrators. While avoiding any reductive conclusions, they persuasively insist on the importance of a critical evaluation of how forensic science, with its presumed expertise and ‘objectivity,’ is transforming the nature of evidence.”
-- Jonathan Crary, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory, Columbia University

On the margins of aesthetics, science, and law
Anselm Franke

Forensic aesthetics brings into view the way in which boundaries are currently drawn and stabilized, transgressed and shuttered. In practice, forensics is called upon after the fact: in the aftermath of conflict, crime, and violence, when limits have already been breached, fractured, violated, and are put to the test by ongoing crises that call for resolution. But forensics is not primarily concerned with justice; it is both before justice, as that which establishes the conditions for judgment, and that which happens in place of justice, when agents are no longer accountable. The borderland investigated by forensic aesthetics is one in which the categories of living and dead, subjects and objects, past and present are put into question. It is concerned with the technologies and protocols governing this borderland: its biopolitical containment and expansion, the representation of violence, the (re)construction of historical narrative, or the politics of proof manifest in entertainment and mass media. It is at this frontier that objects are brought to speak.
In this sense, forensics is also a projective practice that constructs languages and spaces of agency. Forensic aesthetics accounts for this blurring of borders—a blurring registered by aesthetics—and also testifies to new sensibilities, describes new territories of action and agency, and critically reflects on the technologies of assessing, calculating, restoring, and redrawing those very boundaries. This book was commissioned to instigate, rather than represent, an exhibition. In this curatorial experiment, Thomas Keenan and Eyal Weizman were asked to produce a book and Hito Steyerl was asked to respond to their text by creating a series of works. This process constructed a form of research within the margins of science, aesthetics, and law— an entangled set of circumstances from which we can examine these fields anew.


Eyal Weizman: The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza

The principle of the “lesser evil”—the acceptability of pursuing one exceptional course of action in order to prevent a greater injustice—has long been a cornerstone of Western ethical philosophy. From its roots in classical ethics and Christian theology, to Hannah Arendt’s exploration of the work of the Jewish Councils during the Nazi regime, Weizman explores its development in three key transformations of the problem: the defining intervention of Médecins Sans Frontières in mid-1980s Ethiopia; the separation wall in Israel-Palestine; and international and human rights law in Bosnia, Gaza and Iraq. Drawing on a wealth of new research, Weizman charts the latest manifestation of this age-old idea. In doing so he shows how military and political intervention acquired a new “humanitarian” acceptability and legality in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.



“Eyal Weizman’s work has become an indispensable source of both insight and guidance in these difficult times. He understands the evolving dynamics of war and sovereignty better than anyone.”
– Paul Gilroy, Professor of Social History, London School of Economics

“This is a wonderful book, written with clarity, precision, and passion. It takes the reader into the heart of contemporary necro-politics and calculations of “lesser evils” by powerful states and their humanitarian accomplices. Deeply learned and informative on every page, this is essential reading for anyone who cares about contemporary conditions of warfare and state-controlled violence; about the spatial practices that reinforce and regulate systemic forms of violence, such as the calculation of minimal requirements for human survival. In the spirit of Doctors Without Borders, Weizman is an architect without borders, at home in political philosophy, military history, just war theory, and the spatial systems of controlled, calculated violence that constitute Israel–Palestine, and much of the world today.”
– W. J. T. Mitchell, Professor of English and Art History, University of Chicago

“Originality, ingenuity, and brilliance do not even begin to do justice to this amazing study, this architectural forensics of battle and human rights as pieced together from the study of the ruin and the terrifying logic of “the lesser evil”. How astonishing to see our new world this new way.”
– Michael Taussig, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University

Forensic Architecture Web-platform Online

Existing at the intersection of architecture, history, and the laws of war, Forensic Architecture refers to an analytical method for reconstructing scenes of violence as they are inscribed within spatial artefacts and in built environments.

Manuel Delanda: Lavas and Magmas

We live in a world populated by structures --- a complex mixture of geological, biological, social, and linguistic constructions of materials shaped and hardened by history. Immersed as we are in this mixture, we cannot help but interact in a variety of ways with the other historical construction that surround us, and in these interactions we generate novel combinations. In turn, these synergetic combinations, whether of human origin or not, become the raw material for further mixtures. This is how the population of structures inhabiting our planet has acquired its rich variety, as the entry of novel materials into the mix triggers wild proliferations of new forms.




E. Ayache - The Medium of Contingency

Metaphysics has traditionally represented contingency via the modality of possibility. Contingent being is thought via the different being that it possibly can be. We claim that this mediation is an improper "exchange" of contingency. It collides with what Baudrillard calls the Impossible Exchange Barrier. If contingency is to be thought absolutely, it must be thought independently of the map of possibilities. The notion of possible states must be eradicated throughout and Meillassoux's factual speculation should find its adapted medium instead.

K. Knorr-Cetina - The Synthetic Situation: Interactionism for a Global World

Presented as the Distinguished Lecture at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 1, 2008, this article rethinks central assumptions of the interaction order as conceptualized by Goffman and others with respect to global domains of activity. It proposes two new concepts, that of the synthetic situation and that of time transactions.

K. Knorr-Cetina - From pipes to scopes. The flow architecture of financial markets

Recently, economic sociologists have tended to view markets as embedded in social relations and social networks, the structures they see as defining markets and framing economic action. This chapter draws a distinction between two types of markets: those based on a network architecture where social relationships carry much of the burden of specifying market behavior and of explaining some market outcomes, and markets that have become disembedded and decoupled from networks and exhibit what I shall call a flow architecture.

N. Sakai: Writing for Multiple Audiences and the Heterolingual Address (Introduction)

What the practice of the heterolingual address evoked in me was not the sense of the peculiarity of writing for two linguistically different readerships/ rather, it made me aware of other social and even political issues involved in translation, and it illuminated what I had long suspected about the assumptions of the nonheterolingual address, namely, the homolingual address. In this respect, the practice of writing these essays confirmed what I had expected when 1 analyzed the conceptions and regimes of translation in eighteenth-century discourse in what is referred to as Japan today.

B. Buden and S. Nowotnyv - Cultural translation: An introduction to the problem

Etymologically, translation evokes an act of moving or carrying across from one place or position to another, or of changing from one state of things to another. This does not apply only to the words of different languages, but also to human beings and their most important properties. They too can be moved across all sorts of differences and borders and so translated from one place to another, for instance from one cultural and political condition to another. Thus, one can culturally translate people - for a political purpose and with existential consequences.

Marion Von Osten - Architecture Without Architects: Another Anarchist Approach

The title of this text is a hybrid of two existing titles. “Architecture without Architects” was the name of an influential exhibition by the architect Bernard Rudofsky at the MoMA in 1964; “Housing: An Anarchist Approach” was the name of a famous book by the English architect and anarchist Colin Ward in which the author proclaims the rights and productivity of self-built housing and squatting in postwar Europe.

On Climate Refugees Biopolitics, Aesthetics, and Critical Climate Change by Yates McKee

Among the most provocative theoretical developments in the con- temporary humanities is what has recently been called “critical cli- mate change.”1 At once an institutional initiative and a concept- metaphor, this phrase speaks to two overlapping concerns. The first concern is the so-called anthropogenic or man-made crisis of the planetary climate system resulting inadvertently from the residual carbon footprint of two centuries of fossil-fuel capitalism centered in the Global North.


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