Might future legal histories be more experiential?

This presentation was prepared for the seminar series ‘Through a legal lens: law, history and visual culture’ organised by Victoria Barnes, Helen Rutherford, Clare Sandford-Couch and Sarah Wilson. Thanks to the Leverhulme Trust for funding my research.

The question of whether the legal histories of the future might be more ‘experiential’ arises because legal presents are increasingly being made visual and material. Some of that is happenstance, part of a general explosion in the generation of, and ability to access, sights and sounds.

In this presentation I focus on instances where designers are making legal phenomena visible and tangible in images, objects and spaces; and where their aim is not just to document or describe but to investigate.

I argue that we can think of such investigations as generating an ‘experiential’ legal archive, and I consider how such experiential archives might influence future legal histories.

I draw on examples from the practice of Forensic Architecture, Sarah Browne-Jesse Jones and Jack Tan.

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