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«[...] because they are contemporaries.»

Crisis zones of media ecology in the work of Constanze Ruhm and Forensic Architecture


Research project by Lisa Stuckey   >> view on the akbild homepage

The beginning of Constanze Ruhm’s artistic research is marked by a psychoanalytic and poststucturalist theory or a specific film from New Wave cinema. It is analyzed in regard to its visual axes, architecture, and processes of archiving. The outcome is a cinematic setting between film, new media, and the exhibition space.

The beginning of the investigations carried out by the research agency Forensic Architecture (founded by Eyal Weizman at Goldsmiths University) origin in contradicting accounts of events in areas of political or ecological conflict. Hence follows a detailed forensic reconstruction in a virtual architectural model and the presentation of a ‹public truth› in a tribunal or a museum.

Constanze Ruhm and Forensic Architecture share a counter-hegemonic gaze, the remediatization of found footage, an exhibition setting of research-based case studies, and a pronounced self-discursiveness. All this reflects a tendency in exhibition- and curatorial practice to approach contemporary expansion from ecological onto the visual sphere and its materialization as media with a meta-level to critically connect academic, juridical, cinematic, and art-related discourses and forums. This level serves to negotiate the ‹crisis zones›.

A shift in reception can be noted: from a preferential psychoanalytic to a forensic and materially-driven analysis of media. Against the background of media ecology—as a symptomatic diagnosis of the present—a comparative analysis of the vocabulary of concepts and methods of Constanze Ruhm and Forensic Architecture is being undertaken:

The exhibition Constanze Ruhm. Re: Rehearsals (No Such Thing as Repetition) (2015/16) presents the principles of a poststructuralist artfield with its emphasis on ambiguity and the ‹factual-fictive›. Constanze Ruhm’s computer simulation Apartment (1999) and the work-in-progress AN(N)AGRAM (in collaboration with Emilien Awada) continue a psychoanalytic-deconstructivist tradition of reception: they reflect the cinema as ideological representational system in the form of the essay that includes itself as a hypothetic gesture.

Forensic Architectures’ proposition of a ‹public truth› into the exhibition context takes place exemplary through the investigative works The Architecture of Memory (2010/2013) and 77sqm_9:26min (2017). The exhibition Forensic Architecture. Towards an Investigative Aesthetics (2017) poses the question how the art institution—after undergoing a phase of self-reflection known as ‹Institutional Critique›—is being transformed.

Constanze Ruhm and Forensic Architecture are contemporaries. This research serves not only to theoretically interpret singular positions, but to investigate transforming media environment in the field of art.


> The fragment «[...] because they are contemporaries.» is borrowed from Gilbert Simondon (2012, p. 167) in Die Existenzweise technischer Objekte, whose reflections are of great relevance to this research project.