BREACH considers the material rituals of the securocratic training apparatus, proliferating rapidly in a growing constellation of militarized, simulated urban environments across the US and around the world. Each year, in hundreds of ‘mock cities’, military and security operatives are trained to infiltrate the everyday fabric of the global city. Re-imagining the urban environment as a series of lowest-common denominator material obstacles and vulnerabilities, these agents quickly become expert at exploiting – and exploding – the weaknesses of common architectural assemblages.
Enacting a kind of reverse building code, common features of cities around the world are temporarily embalmed in the simulated city, which becomes both a repository of tectonic knowledge and the arena for its destruction. The simulated sites attempt to sustain an encyclopedic and exhaustive cross-section of the architectural defenses deployed in imagined theaters of conflict, replicating the typical structural systems, wall assemblies, door assemblies, and defensive architectures likely to be encountered in conflict sites at home and abroad. It is here that nextgen weapons, capable of breaching these systems, are invented, tested, and perfected. A typical training regimen will present iterative and escalating challenges to SWAT teams and combat engineers, with success depending on the unit’s ability to assess material vulnerabilities, and execute swift demolition.
BREACH presents the material residue of this ritualistic demolition, harvesting the architectural remnants of breach training, and cataloguing the sites which sponsor such daily destruction. Six conscripted doors, culled from a sequence of training operations conducted in Playas, NM in 2017, demonstrate the aftermath of surgical explosive breaches – a kind of macabre taxonomy of infiltration. This material bounty is augmented by maps and illustrations excerpted from AGENCY’s original research in the global environments of urban simulation. The exhibit includes never-before-seen excerpts from AGENCY’s simulation site database – revealing the scope, geography, and urbanistic tendencies of over 400 simulated urban environments around the world.
Themes from the exhibit are further explored in AGENCY’s upcoming book, entitled
FRONTS: Security and the Developing World, anticipated from ORO Editions in 2017.
-Ersela Kripa + Stephen Mueller | AGENCY Architecture LLC