ABSTRACT

Forensic culture’s economy of legibility demands that all things must be manageable and measurable as evidence; to be manageable as evidence, a thing must be shown to possess a truth at its interior that can be revealed by the right forensic techniques. A foundational assumption of forensic aesthetics is that there is a kernel of truth waiting to be unearthed from its recess of densely crusted, confusingly mixed information. As I suggested in my Introduction, Renaissance anatomy demonstrations reinforced associations of interiority with the idea that truth is lying in wait, a singular answer buried beneath confusing layers of disguise. The need for this kernel of truth to be released is crucial to the prestige of forensic expertise, which presents itself as being heroically able to disclose. According to the transparency illusion, the truth, once revealed by forensic techniques, will appear transparent, self-evident. The two works on which I focus in this chapter vividly challenge the interiority, solvability, and transparency illusions that underpin the forensic’s economy of legibility. Truth, these works assert, is neither singular nor transparent. Baroque painter Pietro Da Cortona countered the Renaissance anatomy lessons by painting bodies that were part-skeletal, part fleshy, anatomical yet visceral, bodies that were ‘layered and recursive, folding and interleaving’, breaking the equation by anatomists of the day between knowledge and visibility (Maxwell: 58). Entitled and The Events are, like Da Cortona’s anatomical paintings, playfully dissective at first glance, but ‘layered and recursive, folding and interleaving’, situating truth not as lying in wait, neither singular nor transparent, but as strata that push against one another as pasts irrupt into the present and shape possibility.