March 27, 2018

Forensic Architecture Launches Open-Sourced Grenfell Investigation

LONDON, ENGLAND—The Goldsmiths, University of London-based research agency Forensic Architecture has begun a new project investigating the June 2017 Grenfell Fire, Phoebe Braithwaite reports for Wired. The group has built an animated three-dimensional model of Grenfell Tower and is soliciting footage from the public that documents the blaze, which killed seventy-one people and injured seventy more. Footage can be submitted on the Grenfell Media Archive’s website.

Forensic Architecture has assembled existing footage from YouTube and other social media platforms, as well as from Sky News, a partner on the project. “The thing about the fire is that lots of the most crucial stuff happens early on, and a lot of that is hand-held and is more shaky footage, and the news crews arrive around 3 or 4am and that’s when you get the really stable shorts,” said Nicholas Masterton, a technologist with Forensic Architecture. “If somebody has a still image or a tripod shot at a very critical moment, it can supersede or provide more information than several lower quality shots.” Forensic Architecture’s investigation is a corollary to the official public inquiry, which is expected to be complete in 2019.

The Grenfell project continues Forensic Architecture’s academic practice of employing data to independently research human rights, political, and environmental events outside the structures of the state. Earlier projects have investigated the forced disappearance of forty-three students in northern Mexico and US airstrikes in Syria. Forensic Architecture is led by Eyal Weizman, professor of visual and spatial cultures at Goldsmiths, and is currently the subject of an exhibition, Counter Invesitgations, at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts.

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