On the 19th of September 2017, an earthquake caused the collapse of a building known as AO286 in Mexico City, causing the death of 49 people. An investigation into the causes of its structural failure reveals a mnemonic violence that clears, fragments and commodifies the memory of bodies—whether individual, social, human and non-human—and their ability to preemptively mitigate seismic destruction. As seismographs to earthquakes, Seismographic memory detects, registers and makes legible forces across vast jumps of spatial scales—from the solar system to the architectural detail—and across the temporal scales of lived time and the future. As a conceptual tool, it allows earthquakes to be made legible as cultural, social, and political objects and enables buildings like AO286 to be read as political plastic shaped by tectonics, desiccation, and regulation.
Dissertation for the MA Research Architecture program, completed with distinction at Goldsmiths, University of London