Forensic Affects. Affective Operations of Forensic Aesthetics as Artistic Mediation of Violence in Three Mexican Contemporary Artworks: Level on Confidence (2014) by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, The Promise (2012), and What Else Could We Talk About? (2009) by Teresa Margolles

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Cultural representations of violence can trigger a shallow engagement with the problem of violence, reinforcing exoticizing stereotypes about certain peoples’ natural tendencies toward self-destruction and death. Alternatively, cultural expressions also foster critical engagements with violence, making the spectator reflect on the invisible mechanisms that produce visible acts of violence. This thesis uses the concept of forensic aesthetics to examine three contemporary Mexican art installations that incorporate materials that constitute evidence of violent events. The project seeks to understand how violence is represented through forensic aesthetics and how this form of art can promote critical thinking about violence. The thesis argues that forensic aesthetics enhances the affective operations of materiality through diverse mediation techniques, such as theatricality and technological devices, which influence the spectators’ embodied perception of the objects and promote sensations and feelings that come from physical imagination —the affective response towards an inanimate object— instead of identification with the victims. These sensations are usually uncomfortable and riddle the spectators’ minds, making them think.
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