Triple Chaser (2019)
When US border agents fired tear gas grenades at civilians in November 2018, photographs showed that many of those grenades were manufactured by the Safariland Group, one of the world’s major manufacturers of so-called “less-lethal munitions.” The Safariland Group is owned by Warren B. Kanders, the [now former] vice-chair of the board of trustees of the Whitney Museum of American Art. In response to their invitation to the Whitney Biennial 2019, and the controversial association of Warren B. Kanders’ with the institution, Forensic Architecture partnered with Praxis Films on a project to train “computer vision” classifiers to detect Safariland tear gas canisters among the millions of images shared online. The task of training a computer vision classifier to identify a particular object usually requires thousands of images of that object. Images of the Triple-Chaser pyrotechnic grenade, however, are relatively rare. To fill the gap, Forensic Architecture constructed a digital model of the Triple-Chaser, and located it within thousands of photorealistic “synthetic” environments, recreating the situations in which tear gas canisters are deployed and documented. In this way, “fake” images helped in the search for real ones, so that the next time Safariland munitions are used against civilians, we’ll know.