Architectures of the Sensed

Dr. Ariel Caine gave a ReMap presentation focused on an ongoing project titled ‘Architectures of the Sensed’. This project centres on the environs of Silwan, a Palestinian neighbourhood south of the Temple mount in occupied East Jerusalem. He goes on to explain:

SurveillanceCameras_over_Settelment_Wadi_Rababa_Silwan: CCTV around Jewish Settlements in Wadi al-Rababa, Silwan, Occupied East Jerusaelm, 2022
Surveillance Cameras and CCTV over Jewish Settlement Wadi Rababa, Silwan. Occupied East Jerusaelm, 2022

Expanding through the neighbourhood is the ‘City of David’, an interlinked archaeological excavation, tourism site, and Jewish-nationalist settlement project. Over the last three decades, Silwan has become one of the most entangled and densely surveyed areas in Palestine. From the underground to the skies, the volume of this site is networked with a myriad of sensory apparatuses, a dense constellation of electromagnetic computational media, central to ongoing processes of civil and military occupation.

How can models render visible the increasingly opaque sensory infrastructures in the city? Moreover, under conditions of surveillance and control how could models understood as both 3D simulatory environments and experimental frameworks serve as augmented sites of resistance? The image (Ariel Caine, 2021 ) at the top of this post shows a 3D side-view of excavation  tunnels under houses beneath the Jewish settlement of Wadi Hilwe . The surface level and tunnel point-clouds are positioned and scaled through numerous GPS coordinate Ground-Control-Points. The ‘see-through’ materiality of the point-cloud enables a previously inaccessible view through the surface and reveal the relation between underground Israeli tunnelling running under the Palestinian village.

Mapping Surveillance in Silwan
Mapping Surveillance in Silwan: this map shows the process (still in process) of surveying and documenting CCTV camera locations along with preliminary camera type classification. Map: Ariel Caine as part of the collaboration with the PVS project, Tampere University, Finland.

While optical computational models are primarily used by state and corporate actors, they also offer new possibilities for resistance and processes of accountability.  Drawing on local and global collaborations, from Amnesty, PeaceNow Emek Shave and WhoProfits, to local activists and investigative journalists, this research explores the changing infrastructures of vision, their spatialization, the decision-making logics at their core, and the techno-social realities that form through and around their deployment. Spatial practice does not only produce model environments, as I propose, it should be seen as offering a framework for the development of communities of practice. The project operates through three interconnected collaborative projects each looking at a separate aspect of the site and examining the relation between spatial occupation and transformation and practices of optical led survey. These project sections examine and map the yet unacknowledged and unmapped underground archaeological tunnelling under the neighbourhood, documenting and tracking cctv networks and their expansion in relation to the growing settlement and making visible the opaque drone-flight restriction over the entire old city of Jerusalem. The site and the production of models not only offer the possibility for changed forms of visibility but simultaneously call for the development of methodologies for collective spatial practices of media. In this expanded sense, the model is an epistemological lens through which to critically engage with the complex interrelations between physical reality and the invisible infrastructural architectures of the sensed.

These three projects are done in collaboration with: Dr Hagit Keysar, Faiz Abu Rmeleh and Dr Rune Saugmann Andersen (Tampere University, Finland)

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