Film Screening Program: Harun Farocki

Screening, Collaboration


Stoa x MIF

1 Turunlinnantie
Helsinki, 00900

As part of the exhibition There will be no landscape after the battle. we will have two special screening sessions. Harun Farocki dedicated an extense part of his work to analyse war and the ideology encrypted into the images it produces. For this exhibition, we dedicate a one-day screening to engage, learn and reflect through a selection of works spanning from 1969 to 2010.

Special thanks to Antje Ehman and Harun Farocki Institute.

Harun Farocki (1944 - 2014) was born  in Novy Jicin (Czech Republic, annexed to Germany at the time).  Farocki wrote essays, film and television scripts. His work was exhibited at Documenta 12 in Kassel and in many international retrospectives. Harun Farocki began making films in the late 1960s amid a highly politicised cultural milieu. Citing the influence of such Marxist cultural practitioners as theatre director Bertolt Brecht, philosopher Theodor Adorno, and film director Jean-Luc Godard, Farocki consistently addressed two principal subjects: the practices of labour and the production of images. Farocki is particularly known for his explicitly political essay films, through which he examined these subjects while also openly confronting the inherently persuasive, manipulative properties of the cinematic medium. Many of his direct-cinema works unobtrusively observe media productions, training sessions, and product demonstrations. In his later works, Farocki explored what he termed “operative images”—technical images created for military and surveillance purposes that were not necessarily intended for public consumption. Farocki prompts viewers to think about the powerful role of visual media in shaping our understanding of ourselves and others, as well as about the social and political systems that send images into the world.


12:00 - 14:20

Inextinguishable Fire, 1969
Original title: Nicht löschbares Feuer
Director, scriptwriter and editor: Harun Farocki
Cinematographer: Gerd Conradt
Sound: Ulrich Knaudt
Production: Harun Farocki, Berlin-West for WDR, Cologne.
Length: 25 min

"When we show you pictures of napalm victims, you'll shut your eyes. You'll close your eyes to the pictures. Then you'll close them to the memory. And then you'll close your eyes to the facts." These words are spoken at the beginning of an agitprop film that can be viewed as a unique and remarkable development. Farocki refrains from making any sort of emotional appeal. His point of departure is the following: "When napalm is burning, it is too late to extinguish it. You have to fight napalm where it is produced: in the factories."

Before Your Eyes—Vietnam, 1982
Original title: Etwas wird sichtbar
Director and scriptwriter: Harun Farocki
Script: Karl-Heinz Wegmann
Cinematographer: Ingo Kratisch
Editor: Johannes Beringer
Sound: Rolf Müller and Manfred Blank
Music: Markus Spies.
Length: 114 min

A hybrid attempt at coming to terms with a specific instance of amnesia amongst the West German left in the late 1970s/early 1980s, Harun Farocki’s 1982 feature film Before your eyes – Vietnam combines ideas about the distant, image-guided participation in the war in Vietnam with speculations on Vietnam as a laboratory of advanced modes of capitalist production, whilst reflecting intensely on the dyad of love and work.

14:20 Break

14:40 - 16:00

Eye / Machine, 2000
Original title; Auge / Maschine
Director and scriptwriter: Harun Farocki with Matthias Rajmann, Ingo Kratisch, Rosa Mercedes
Editor: Max Reimann
Producer: Harun Farocki
Length: 23 min

The work centres on the images of the Gulf War which caused worldwide sensation in 1991. In the shots taken from projectiles homing in on their targets, bomb and reporter were identical, according to a theory put forward by the philosopher Klaus Theweleit. At the same time it was impossible to distinguish between the photographed and the (computer) simulated images. The loss of the 'genuine picture' means the eye no longer has a role as historical witness. It has been said that what was brought into play in the Gulf War was not new weaponry but rather a new policy on images. In this way the basis for electronic warfare was created. Today, kilo tonnage and penetration are less important than the so-called C3I cycle which has come to encircle our world. C3I refers to Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence – and means global and tactical early warning systems, area surveillance through seismic, acoustic and radar sensors, radio direction-sounding, monitoring opponents' communications as well as the use of jamming to suppress all these techniques. Harun Farocki explores the question of how military image technologies find their way into civilian life.

War at a Distance, 2003
Original title: Erkennen und Verfolgen
Director and scriptwriter: Harun Farocki
Cinematographer: Ingo Kratisch, Rosa Mercedes
Sound: Louis van Rouki
Editor: Max Reimann
Production: Harun Farocki Filmproduktion, Berlin, in collaboration with ZDF/3sat
Length: 58 min

In 1991, when images of the Gulf War flooded the international media, it was virtually impossible to distinguish between real pictures and those generated on computer. This loss of bearings was to change forever our way of deciphering what we see. The image is no longer used only as testimony, but also as an indispensable link in a process of production and destruction. This is the central premise of War at a Distance, which continues the deconstruction of claims to visual objectivity Harun Farocki developed in his earlier work. With the help of archival and original material, Farocki sets out in effect to define the relationship between military strategy and industrial production and sheds light on how the technology of war finds applications in everyday life.

16:00 Break

16:15 - 17:00

Serious Games I- IV, 2010
Serious Games shows how video games based on actual wars are used for the contradictory purposes of military training and post-traumatic stress disorder therapy.
Duration: 44 min
Director: Harun Farocki
Cinematographer: Ingo Kratisch
Sound: Matthias Rajmann
Editing: Harun Farocki
Script: Harun Farocki and Matthias Rajmann
Production: Harun Farocki Filmproduktion, Berlin

Serious Games I: Watson is down
Original title: Serious Games I: Watson ist hin
Length: 8 min

In the autumn of 2009 we filmed a drill at the Marine Corps Base 29 Palms in California. Four Marines sitting in a class represented the crew of a tank. They had laptops in front of them on which they steered their own vehicle and watched others in the unit being driven through a Computer-Animation Landscape. The simulated Afghan is based on geographical data out of Afghanistan. A street in the computer landscape runs exactly as it would in the real Afghanistan; the same holds for every tree, the vegetation on the ground or the mountain ranges. The instructor places explosive devices and sets insurgents out in the area. A sniper shot the tank gunner, which we documented with the camera. When the tank drives over the fallow it kicks up a dust tail. The more vegetation there is, the less dust. On the asphalt street, no dust. Even with all this attention to detail, death in the computer game is still something different than the real one.

Serious Games II: Three Dead
Original title: Ernste Spiele II: 3 tot
Length: 8 min

Again, in 29 Palms, we embarked on an exercise with around 300 extras who represented both the Afghan and Iraqi population. A few dozen Marines were on guard and went out on patrol. The town where the manoeuvre was carried out was on a slight rising in the desert and its buildings were made from containers. It looked as though we had modelled reality on a computer animation.

Serious Games III: Immersion
Original title: Ernste Spiele III: Immersion
Length: 20 min

For the video installation Immersion Farocki visited a workshop organised by the Institute for Creative Technologies, a research centre for virtual reality and computer-simulations. One of their projects concerns the development of a therapy for war-veterans suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Farocki is interested in the use of virtual realities and games in the recruiting, training and now also therapy for soldiers. Farocki explores the connection between virtual reality and the military – how the fictional scenarios of computer games are used both in the training of U.S. troops prior to their deployment in combat zones, and in psychological care for troops suffering battlefield trauma upon their return.

Serious Games IV: A Sun without Shadow
Original title: Sonne ohne
Length: 8 min

This chapter considers the fact that the pictures with which preparations were made for war are so very similar to the pictures with which war was evaluated afterward. But there is a difference: The program for commemorating traumatic experiences is somewhat cheaper. Nothing and no-one casts a shadow here.

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