Before and After. Documenting the Architecture оf Disaster = До и после. Архитектура катастрофы и ее документация
A nuclear facility in Iran before and after an explosion, a village in Pakistan before and after a drone attack, a Cambodian river valley before and after a flood. The before-and-after image has become the tool of choice for analysing events. Satellite photography allows us to scrutinise the impact of war or climate change, from the safe distance of orbit. But one thing is rarely captured: the event itself. All we can read is its effect on a space, and that’s where the architectural expert is required, to fill the gap with a narrative. In this groundbreaking essay, Eyal and Ines Weizman explore the history of the before-and-after image, from its origins in 19th-century Paris to today’s satellite surveillance. State militaries monitor us and humanitarian organisations monitor them. But who can see in higher resolution? Who controls the size of the pixels? Interpreting these images is never straightforward.
- 07.00.00: АРХИТЕКТУРА
- ВО - Бакалавриат
- 07.03.01: Архитектура
- 07.03.03: Дизайн архитектурной среды
- ВО - Магистратура
- 07.04.01: Архитектура
- 07.04.03: Дизайн архитектурной среды
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ВЕЙЦМАНЫ ЭЯЛЬ И ИНЕС ДО И ПОСЛЕ АРХИТЕКТУРА КАТАСТРОФЫ И ЕЕ ДОКУМЕНТАЦИЯ 3-е издание (электронное) Москва «Стрелка Пресс» 2017
EYAL AND INES WEIZMAN BEFORE AND AFTER DOCUMENTING THE ARCHITECTURE OF DISASTER 3-rd edition (electronic) Moscow Strelka Press 2017
УДК 72 ББК 85 W42 Weizman, Eyal. W42 Before and After. Documenting the Architecture of Disaster = До и после. Архитектура катастрофы и ее документация [Электронный ресурс] / E. Weizman, I. Weizman. — 3-rd ed. (el.). — Electronic text data (1 file pdf : 51 p.). — М. : Strelka Press, 2017. — System requirements: Adobe Reader XI or Adobe Digital Editions 4.5 ; screen 10". ISBN 978-5-906264-18-3 A nuclear facility in Iran before and after an explosion, a village in Pakistan before and after a drone attack, a Cambodian river valley before and after a flood. The before-and-after image has become the tool of choice for analysing events. Satellite photography allows us to scrutinise the impact of war or climate change, from the safe distance of orbit. But one thing is rarely captured: the event itself. All we can read is its effect on a space, and that’s where the architectural expert is required, to fill the gap with a narrative. In this groundbreaking essay, Eyal and Ines Weizman explore the history of the before-and-after image, from its origins in 19th-century Paris to today’s satellite surveillance. State militaries monitor us and humanitarian organisations monitor them. But who can see in higher resolution? Who controls the size of the pixels? Interpreting these images is never straightforward. УДК 72 ББК 85 The source print publication: Before and After. Documenting the Architecture of Disaster / E. Weizman, I. Weizman. — Moscow : Strelka Press, 2014. — 50 p. — ISBN 978-0-9929-1469-1. ISBN 978-5-906264-18-3 © Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, 2014
INTRODUCTION Dresden, view to the Frauenkirche before and after its destruction, 13-14 February 1945.Ш History is increasingly presented as a series of catastrophes. The most common mode of this presentation is the before-and-after image - a juxtaposition of two photographs of the same place, at different times, before and after an event has taken its toll. Buildings seen intact in a ‘before’ photograph have been destroyed in the one ‘after’. Neighbourhoods bustling with activity in one image are in — 5 —
ruins or under a layer of foul water in the next. Deforestations, contaminations, melting icebergs and drying rivers are represented in paired images that purport to show the consequences of rogue development, resource exploitation, war or climate change. It seems that almost any photograph taken today has the potential to become a ‘before’ to a devastating ‘after’ yet to come. The juxtaposition inherent in before-and-after photographs communicates not a slow process of transformation over time but, rather, a sudden or radical change. Forensic accounts, which seek to reconstruct what took place between the two moments in time, can sometimes involve intricate processes of interpretation that crossreference before-and-after images with other forms of evidence. But more commonly before-and-after photographs are used to privilege a direct line of causality between a singular action and a unique effect. In before-and-after photographs, the event - whether natural, manmade or an entanglement of them both - is missing. Instead, it is captured in the transformation of space, thus calling for an architectural analysis. This spatial interpretation is called upon to fill the gap between the two images with a narrative, but that job is never straightforward. The history of before-and-after images is as old as the history of photography. Indeed, they emerged from the limitations of the early photographic process. The few dozen seconds required for the exposure of a mid-19th-century photograph was too long a duration to record moving figures and abrupt events. The result was that most often people were missing from the image; only buildings and other elements of the urban fabric were registered. To capture an event, two photographs were necessary. The technique was thus useful in — 6 —
representing the consequences of urban conflicts, revolutionary action and large-scale urban reconstructions. Because the event was registered only through changes in the environment, those studying the result of violence needed to shift their attention from the figure (the individual or action) to the ground (the urban fabric or landscape). Senafe, Eritrea, 1999 and 2002. Before and after destruction by the Ethiopian army.  — 7 —
North Darfur, Sudan, 2003 and 2006. Today, the most common before-and-after images are satellite photographs, and they are once again the product of a limitation in the photographic process. The orbit times of satellites circumnavigating the planet means that they can only capture the same place at regular intervals. Because there is a time lag between each image (the fastest satellites can orbit the Earth every 90 minutes but at higher altitudes they take several hours), the crucial event is often missed. In addition, international regulations currently limit the resolution of publicly available satellite imagery to 50 cm per pixel (every 50 cm area is represented as a single, colour-coded surface). Higher-resolution images are available to state agencies, but the regulation limiting publicly available resolution was set so that they would not register the human body . Although this regulation was set because of concerns about privacy, it also has a security rationale. Not only are strategic sites — 8 —
camouflaged by the 50 cm pixel resolution, but the consequences of state violence and violations become harder to investigate. In Israel and the occupied territories an even more severe limitation on the resolution of satellite imagery requires that providers degrade their image to a resolution of 1 m per pixel.This has the effect, intended no doubt, of limiting the ability of independent organisations to monitor state action within that area. Whether politically or technically motivated, the fact is that the limitation on resolution means that, 150 years after the invention of photography, the original problem persists: people are still not registered in the kind of before-and-after photographs that most commonly document destructive events. The contemporary prevalence of before-and-after images shapes our perception of the world. It certainly opens up a new dimension in shifting our attention from the representation of the human agent to representations of territories and architecture, which also turns spatial analysis into an essential political tool. However, the crucial thing in before-and-after images is the gap between them, and these gaps can resist easy interpretation. In order to unpack the politics of before-and-after images, it is vital to understand their history.
THE HISTORY OF THE BEFORE-AND-AFTER IMAGE Eugene Thibault, The Revolution of 1 848, Before and Alter the Attack, 1848. Perhaps the earliest before-and-after photographs of an urban scene are a pair of daguerreotypes of the barricade in Paris’s Rue Saint-Maur Popincourt. These were captured by Eugene Thibault from a hidden window, before and after a clash between workers and the National Guard led by General Lamoriciere on Sunday, 25 June, 1848. Photography historian Marie Warner Marien has described the scene unfolding in this pair. The ‘before’ image shows a sequence of two or three barricades that appear to have been assembled out of sand bags and cobblestones. Although the workers’ neighbourhoods of the time were undergoing an unprecedented population explosion, we can — 10 —