*1944 in Nov.. Jicin (CZ), lives in Berlin (DE)
Exhibitions: MUMOK – Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna 2007 (AT); 2nd Seville Biennale, 2006 (ES); Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm, 2006 (SE)
For Harun Farocki, every film embodies a political act. His theoretical films, influenced by Godard, deal with issues of consumption, work, war and the politics of images. In addition to material filmed by the artist himself, Farocki also uses footage from industrial films, surveillance videos and military recordings, amongst other things, as a means to decipher the pictures’ codes and to examine the manmachine relationship: “My path is to search for buried meaning and to clear the rubble covering the images.”
His works are recognisable by virtue of their form and concentration: an integral part of the didactic process includes the import of picture commentaries to accompany the (found footage) imagery. This enables Farocki to lay bare the technical, cultural, social and political interrelations of meaning adhering to the “operative images”. Providing visible interpretations, exposing the usages of the liberated images and actions are features to be found in all of Farocki’s films.
As a student, Farocki began with educational and political agitation films dealing with political events such as the Vietnam War. This was followed by essay films and documentaries, and, since the mid-1990s, video installations within an art context which deal with political and film-theoretical issues. Farocki uses scientific high-tech programmes in order to conduct a comparison between human perception and machine perception, challenging his audience to adopt a critical perspective. At the same time, he shows them the relevant state of research, removing the technical advancements from the confines of the institutes and placing them within a public cultural setting. Television and cinema initially, but exhibitions have also been included in his works since the 1990s.
Farocki exposes the complex image-processing programmes, military strategies or spatial stagings we are confronted with on a daily basis – what we see is the product of our (media) environment and the power structures embedded therein. Farocki’s work trains our critical capacities in respect of technologies and their rational characteristics.
documenta 12 work
1.5 billion people saw the same images of the World Cup final in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium last year. Harun Farocki interprets this phenomena, the monopolisation of live pictures, as the television industry’s staging of the world, and gathered together all available film and video recordings of the game.
His video installation Deep Play (2007) presents a whole series of perspectives on the football game on twelve monitors in the rotunda of the Museum Fridericianum. Each video lasts two hours, corresponding to the real transmission time of the game on television. The original material from the television broadcasting companies is run alongside digitally processed pictures that simulate the mathematical analysis of the game for immediate comparison. How does the striker move in order to receive the ball? How do a number of players coordinate their paths in order to execute a ballrelay? How is the space divided up? Using an image-processing software, Farocki makes the paths and the glances of the players visible, illuminating the sequences of space, movement, intention and result. The investigation is carried out exclusively on the visual level. There is no commentary, only the unfiltered voices of commentators, police and TV stagedirection, which serve to thwart the intended perfection of the telecast.
Farocki decided to expose the dramaturgical possibilities of digital-processing techniques by taking the World Cup final, precisely because the result is so emotionally charged: nowhere is the fetish that is football so obvious as in such a game. He employs image-processing systems comparable to those that are currently being developed in research institutes worldwide and which are used for replaying sporting highlights. They can automatically draw the paths of one or more players onto the image, marking the pitch, or generate a dataset from the real picture that enables a virtual reconstruction of the action from any desired perspective. Deep Play shows a very different game to that of the television broadcaster in that it only replays the red card or the instructions for the camera to zoom in, and not, for example, Zidane’s head butt – twelve “frames” provide the visitor with an individual medley.
With the support of Nationale DFB Kulturstiftung