Yve-Alain Bois, Michel Feher, Hal Foster, and Eyal Weizman discuss “forensic architecture,” the practice of treating common elements of our built environment as entry points through which to interrogate the present. Forensic Architecture is also the name of a research agency established by Weizman to undertake independent investigations in the context of armed conflicts, political struggles, and environmental transformation. Participants discuss cases in which the agency acts on commissions from international prosecutors, investigative journalists, the United Nations, human rights organizations, and environmental-justice and media groups. The discussion of this practice is illustrated by brief examples taken from recent investigations in places such as Pakistan, the former Yugoslavia, Gaza, Syria, and Guatemala.
Recent philosophical tendencies of “Actor-Network Theory,” “Object-Oriented Ontology,” and “Speculative Realism” have profoundly challenged the centrality of subjectivity in the humanities, and many artists and curators, particularly in the UK, Germany, and the United States, appear deeply influenced by this shift from epistemology to ontology. October editors asked artists, historians, and philosophers invested in these projects—from Graham Harman and Alexander R. Galloway to Armen Avanessian and Patricia Falguières to Ed Atkins and Amie Siegel—to explore what the rewards and risks of assigning agency to objects may be, and how, or if, such new materialisms can be productive for making and thinking about art today.