Lorenzo Pezzani

Young Bauhaus Research Colloquium




Lorenzo Pezzani

Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London

Lorenzo Pezzani (PhD) is Lecturer in Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. His work deals with the spatial politics and visual cultures of migration, with a particular focus on the geography of the ocean. Since 2011, he has been working on Forensic Oceanography, a collaborative project that critically investigates the militarized border regime in the Mediterranean Sea. Together with a wide network of NGOs, scientists, journalists and activist groups, he has produced maps, visualizations and human right reports that attempt to document the violence perpetrated against migrants at sea and challenge the regime of visibility imposed by surveillance means on this contested area. Lorenzo Pezzani is a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths University’s Centre for Research Architecture and a UK Associate of The Public Domain at Delfina Foundation. Lorenzo is part of the research team at Forensic Oceanography, an initiative with Charles Heller, produced in the frame of the ERC funded project “Forensic Architecture – Goldsmiths, Centre for Research Architecture”. Forensic Oceanography critically investigates the militarised border regime in the Mediterranean Sea, mapping the liquid geographies of maritime jurisdictions in order to document the violence perpetrated against migrants at sea. By producing maps, visualisations, human right reports, videos, articles, exhibitions and websites, Forensic Oceanography interrogates this maritime sensorium in the attempt to challenge the regime of visibility imposed by surveillance means and become a tool in the struggle for freedom of movement. Lorenzo was a joint resident with Delfina Foundation and Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency in 2010 in Beit Sahour, Palestine.

Liquid Traces. Contesting the Deadly Architecture of the EU Border Regime.

The policing of illegalised migration has in recent years undergone an intense process of datafication. Information about migrants’ movements at the external borders of Europe is first captured through a vast apparatus of sensing devices and intelligence sources; filtered into specific matrix of variables; and then visualised and shared across different digital platforms. On the basis of this data, border controllers perform risk analysis with the aim of identifying possible “threats” and helping decision-makers to “set priorities, formulate counter-measures and designate operational targets.” These practices, however, do not simply orientate future decisions. They define present practices and shape the current architecture of the European border regime.
Forensic Oceanography, the project I’ve been co-leading since 2011 with Charles Heller, seeks to re-read this data and turn it from an instrument of border policing to a tool for the defence of migrants’ rights. In this presentation I will focus in particular on “Death by rescue”, our latest report, which reverse-engineers these predictive practices so as to contest their deadly effects. By reconstructing the decision making process that led the EU to cut back search and rescue missions in early 2015, the report shows that the increased risk that this decision would have caused had been indeed predicted by EU border agencies, which nevertheless chose to use it as a form of deterrence. The report tactically mobilises geo-referenced data and statistical analysis to re-attribute institutional responsibility for the massive deaths of migrants at sea that was the result of this decision.