The Forensic Imagination

Event Start Date:
March 15, 2017
Event End Date:
March 16, 2017
Event Venue:

Symposium March 15th 2017 LCC

14.00-16.00 Main Lecture Theatre & 16.30-18.00 Lecture Theatre C

In recent years “The Forensic Turn” has become an increasingly important trans-disciplinary discourse vital to studying cultural production about the nature of conflict in the 20th and 21st centuries, especially in the aftermath of mass atrocities, genocides and major human rights abuses. Drawing together fields such as anthropology, architecture, biology, media, art, law and the humanities, this turn is a response to the question of how local, national and international communities articulate the memorialisation and recognition of mass killings through affective production in material culture at established sites such as Srebrenica, Auschwitz, Yad Vashem, the Cambodian Killing Fields, Babi Yar, and in countries such as Rwanda, Argentina, Guatemala, and Iraq.

One of the key strands of this process concerns the “forensic imagination.” For the media artist and cultural theorist Susan Schuppli, this is “the cultural notion of forensics” that asks “how might nonscientific materials such as artworks be provoked into offering a counter-testimonial to the historical narratives into which they had previously been written?” She elaborates that the “term forensic imagination is predicated upon enlarging the field of enunciation through the creative retrieval and mobilization of affects.”

Key questions for the symposium include how the material traces of trauma can be made to re-perform a narrative about past events into the present, cultures of presentation and display, and the extent to which the ‘forensic imagination’ can be regarded as an embodied form of testimony that offers succor to the victims, serves to prosecute the perpetrators, and acts as a warning to society to shift from passive to active bystandership when faced with mass atrocity.

The symposium from 14.00-16.00 will be chaired by Paul Lowe. Speakers include

Dr. Susan Schuppli, Goldsmiths: Trace Evidence
Dr. Stephenie Young, Salem University: Border Trash: Displaced Objects from the Open Graves of Latin America
Max Houghton, LCC and John Smith, University of Westminster Images of Torture: a failure to see
Lewis Bush, LCC: ‘The Shadows of the State: Trauma without Atrocity’
Nick March, Consultant Forensic Practitioner: Police work

The day will continue at 16.30 in Lecture Theatre C with a talk by Michael Hoppen about his collection, and his recent exhibition’? THE IMAGE AS QUESTION: AN EXHIBITION OF EVIDENTIAL PHOTOGRAPHY’