From 28th November 2014
Campus in Camps, Al Feneiq Center (Dheisheh Refugee Camp)

Nick Axel: Grounding Deregulation


The ownership of subsurface mineral rights are prerequisite to drill an oil and gas well. Unlike most countries, in the United States, this form of property is privatized. When hydraulic fracturing was deregulated in 2005, new swathes of land became economically viable for industrial exploitation, and a land grab for mineral rights took place, distributing them in a global financial market of investment and speculation. This project maps over 180,000 invisible contractual relations that have been instrumental to the astronomical growth and territorial acceleration of North Dakota, which currently has higher production levels than certain OPEC nations.

Jacob Burns: “Everyone Can See the Fate of Spies”: Objects, Terror, and the Ethical Decision


A U.S. Air Force photograph of the Combined Air and Space Operations Centre at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, taken before its existence was declassified. All U.S. air operations in the Middle East and South Asia are coordinated from here. The USAF has doctored the image to obscure details of operations then in progress.

Contemporary warfare operates through the decisions it makes about the status of objects. Violence is legitimated—and by extension done—through processes of cataloguing and categorisation. From cars to cities, objects are not a priori targets, but are constructed as such through complex processes of viewing, decoding, and decision-making. In order to understand these processes, I first propose a new definition of terrorism, centred around the use of objects, that allows us to see the commonalities between state and non-state violence. Then, exploring contemporary military-legal thought and practice—particularly that of the U.S. and Israel—I demonstrate how these decisions take advantage of a radically new conceptualisation of ethics: one that conceals the vastly unjust political decisions already made.

Biographical note

Nick Axel is an independent architect and writer. His research investigates industrial territories as endemic sites of social transformation and political intervention. He most recently graduated from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, with an MA dissertation on the deregulation of hydraulic fracturing in the United States, and was Project Coordinator at Forensic Architecture for two investigations into human rights violations in Palestine.

Jacob Burns is a Research Assistant at Forensic Architecture based at Goldsmiths, in London. He was part of the team that produced case studies for the UN Special Rapporteur for Counter Terrorism’s inquiry into U.S. and Israeli drone strikes. He is the author of Persistent Exception: Pakistani Law and the Drone War, which appeared in Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth (Berlin: Sternberg, 2014).