The Forensic Architecture Project : Virtual imagery as evidence in the contemporary context of the war on terror

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


‘Virtual imagery as evidence in the contemporary context of the war on terror’

This paper explores the evidentiary role of virtual reproductions produced by the research project Forensic Architecture in the context of the contemporary battlefields of the war on terror. The digitization of war has created a networked landscape whose processes often remain invisible to the public. Although drone operations and the tactic of targeted assassinations by the CIA depend largely on advanced visual technologies for engagement, there exists almost no resulting visible evidence of their fallouts. Evidentiary images through the traditional medium of photojournalism are rare due to members of the media being unable to access areas of drone attacks and the highly enforced fatal risks towards local journalists who document any evidence of drone attacks. This has lead to a war waged without visual evidence thereby creating a regime of unaccountability for the human collateral damage caused by the attacks. In response to this, the team of architects, artists and theorists of Forensic Architecture piece together witness accounts of drone attacks through virtual imagery that function as a new visual form of testimony and document. This paper explores how the role of virtual image production is utilized as evidence providing for visual documents where there is none. I will look at aspects of the digital production processes of the virtual image as a new visual syntax of a documentary image. These images provide not only visibility to those who are victims of the attack but also function to create space. In reconstructing the actual places of drone attacks, the virtual imagery provides the space of articulating the perspective of those experiencing drone warfare from below. The result is a form of reverse image, which counters the production of the drone image.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • virtual imagery, documentary images, war on terror, digitization of war, drone
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
EventWorkshop: Virtual Zones of Peace and Conflict - University of Copenhagen, Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts, Dept. of Political Science
Duration: 2015 Jan 12 → …


ConferenceWorkshop: Virtual Zones of Peace and Conflict
Period2015/01/12 → …

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