November 6, 2014 - e-flux journal - issue 59: Harun Farocki out now
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November 6, 2014

issue 59: Harun Farocki out now

e-flux journal issue 59: Harun Farocki

with Kodwo Eshun, Christa Blümlinger, James Benning, Doreen Mende, Anselm Franke, Cathy Lee Crane, Alice Cresicher and Andreas Siekmann, Thomas Elsaesser in conversation with Alexander Alberro, Filipa César, Ute Holl, Jan Ralske, Constanze Ruhm, Trevor PaglenBani Khoshnoudi, Armin Linke, Hito Steyerl

www.e-flux.com/issues/59-november-2014

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Organized in collaboration with Antje Ehmann and Doreen Mende, this issue of e-flux journal pays tribute to Harun Farocki (January 9, 1944–July 30, 2014) with a series of essays and reflections on his work and life by friends, collaborators, film scholars, and admirers. Those who knew Harun personally remember not only the epic influence of his work, but also his generosity as a friend and collaborator. As for us, we have never before dedicated a full issue of e-flux journal to a single artist.

From his best known films such as Inextinguishable Fire (1969), Images of the World and the Inscription of War (1989), and Videograms of a Revolution (together with Andrei Ujică, 1992) to endless others such as How to Live in the German Federal Republic (1990), The Interview (1996), and An Image (1983), he used cinematic techniques to make the functioning of power seductive, even thrilling to witness. “More images than the eye can see,” the voice of Ulrike Grote taunts in Images of the World and the Inscription of War, a film reflecting on the surveillance photos taken by US warplanes that had aerially documented what was happening in Nazi camps during World War II. Even though these images were not seen by human eyes—whether willfully or not—we realize that allied cameras were complicit in seeing, but not in knowing what happened.

Farocki’s films lead us to think that the real brutality of power that uses advanced forms of technology, transmission, and mediation goes far beyond the application of physical violence on human bodies, and towards something much more delicate, much more refined. Its real violence arrives in something like boredom, in rendering the actual functioning of power as boring—uninteresting and technical on the surface, but eventually and ultimately authoritarian in its inaccessibility. It is from this point that Farocki’s mastery begins: by identifying cinema as a historical meeting point between technology and seduction. Cinema has always been the name of the machine for merging warfare and entertainment, propaganda and pornography.

So why can’t we then draw a direct line from its history into a present where cinema has already been weaponized as the primary technique for mobilizing vision—for drones and romantic comedies alike? From here it only takes Farocki’s elegant sleight of hand to twist the apparatus back on itself, to render its own technologies of control interesting, seductive enough to be perceivable, perceivable enough to be accessible. It is through cinema that power can become fascinating in its complexity, charming in its grace, and deadly in its poetry, to the point where the spell of its technology is broken. Once the aura is gone, slippages appear at the very centers of command, where every lock can be picked and US generals fumble blindly with their own software. The technology has become impossible to master, and also available to anyone. With Harun’s precise scrutiny, an intimate world of techno-social micro-machinations comes to life. When an automated gate closes and latches, Harun is there. When looking into the LCD screens replacing rearview mirrors in cars, he is there. He is there when we address a colleague at work with a certain title.

Farocki’s last work looked at the design of worlds within video games. If we understand the history of cinema as also being the history of optics, then what are the physics of a world made out of vision, of a living cinema? In gamespace there is always a problem when you try to leave, when you reach the edge of the world and you try to go past it, to exit completely. And in Farocki’s Parallel I–IV, the moment you reach the edge, you hit a transparent border. Even if you fall through past the limit, the film loop starts again and you are urged to return.

—Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle

In this issue:

Kodwo Eshun—A Question They Never Stop Asking
To take Farocki’s preference for the instructional seriously is to embark, joyously, upon an internal exile from much of what understands itself as experimental culture. And now that Farocki is gone, it becomes clear to me that his films, videos, television programs, essays, texts, exhibitions, and interviews provide nothing less than an alternative value system that enables you to encounter the mutation of images in the present.

Ruchir Joshi—Also of Things: Notes for a Film Remembering Harun Farocki
When editing, your feet itch to kick something. Some invisible server takes the weight of everything. All you’re left with is what you can see and hear.

Christa Blümlinger—An Archaeologist of the Present
He himself liked to speak in metaphors and analogies; his line of argument often took pictorial detours, forming chains and series much like his shot sequences.

James Benning—FAROCKI
Harun Farocki rest in the peace you were so fighting for.

Doreen Mende—Timeline along Books and Hand Gestures: 18,000 BC–2061
This timeline wills itself to stay as precise as possible in terms of dates, names, observations, and comparisons. Learning from HF: each sentence—recorded, pictured, drawn, written, or spoken—is potentially a (never complete) archive of books and films as much as of thoughts and gestures.

Anselm Franke—A Critique of Animation
Not only is it cheaper to use real actors in motion capture than to produce characters from scratch in digital animation, it is also the way to ensure that technology today has always-already been pushed beyond the uncanny valley, because that valley itself is now bridged by the investment of life into machines.

Cathy Lee Crane—Letters to Harun
Hi Cathy, I want to put you on the guest list for a superb dinner at Greene Naftali on September 9. Are you around? Best wishes, Harun

Andreas Siekmann and Alice Cresicher—How to Wear a Scissor-Wielding Trifecta on a T-Shirt
The photo below shows Harun wearing the scissor-wielding trifecta on a T-shirt, after the Goethe Institute in Lisbon refused to print the icon on their press release.

Thomas Elsaesser in conversation with Alexander Alberro—Farocki: A Frame for the No Longer Visible
Just as hackers and Apple might well end up living in a symbiotic relationship—as host-and-parasite, rather than as outright foes—Farocki realized that a system can use its opponents as a way to self-regulate and stabilize itself.

Filipa César—Joint Leopard Dot
Then Harun told me how he was interested in the deviations of meaning and the polysemic nature of words. He said that if he were to choose another occupation, he would be an etymologist.

Ute Holl—Farocki’s Cinematic Historiography: Reconstructing the Visible
Extremely well acquainted with historical and contemporary systems of thought, Farocki has written on historical materialism, semiotics, and structuralism, but has defied all of them in filmic discourse.

Jan Ralske—Harun’s Highway
The impact of Harun Farocki’s work was more than the howl of a dog in tune with his instincts.

Constanze Ruhm—Attachment
A simple lesson I learned from Harun Farocki: on set, you can clap the clapboard quietly too.

Trevor Paglen—Operational Images
Something new was happening in the world of images, something that the theoretical tools of visual studies and art history couldn’t account for: the machines were starting to see for themselves. Harun Farocki was one of the first to notice that image-making machines and algorithms were poised to inaugurate a new visual regime.

Bani Khoshnoudi—Watch and Learn
Somewhere, he himself said that it is not what is in a picture, but what lies behind it that counts; that this should not stop us, as it never stopped Farocki, from using and showing images, as if they are the only source of proof we have for certain things.

Armin Linke—In His Reading Chair

Hito Steyerl—Beginnings
A good beginning holds a problem in its most basic form. It looks effortless, but rarely is. A good beginning requires the precision and skill to say things simply. Like the crafts of making bricks, weapons, or files on hard drives, there is an art of creating beginnings.

The print edition of e-flux journal can now be found at:
Amsterdam: De Appel arts centre / Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten Andratx: CCA Andratx Antwerp: M HKA Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Århus: Kunsthal Aarhus Athens: OMMU Auckland: split/fountain Austin: Arthouse at the Jones Center Baden-Baden: Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden Banff: Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre Barcelona: Arts Santa Mònica / MACBA Basel: Kunsthalle Basel / Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel Beijing and Guangzhou: Vitamin Creative Space Beirut: 98weeks Belgrade: Cultural Center of Belgrade Bergen: Bergen Kunsthall / Rakett Berlin: b_books / Berliner Künstlerprogramm – DAAD / do you read me? / Haus der Kulturen der Welt / Motto / Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) / Pro qm Bern: Kunsthalle Bern / Lehrerzimmer Bialystok: Arsenal Gallery Bielefeld: Bielefelder Kunstverein Birmingham: Eastside Projects / Ikon Gallery Bologna: MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna Bregenz: Kunsthaus Bregenz Bristol: Arnolfini Brussels: WIELS Contemporary Art Centre Bucharest: National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest (MNAC) / Pavilion Unicredit Cairo: Beirut / Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) / Townhouse Gallery Calgary: The New Gallery Cambridge: Wysing Arts Center Castello: Espai d´art contemporani de Castelló (EACC) Chicago: Graham Foundation / Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts / The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago Cologne: Kölnischer Kunstverein Copenhagen: Overgaden Derry: CCA Derry~Londonderry Dubai: Traffic Dublin: Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane / Project Arts Centre Dusseldorf: Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen Eindhoven: Van Abbemuseum Frankfurt: Städelschule / Portikus Gdansk: Łaźnia Centre For Contemporary Art Geneva: Centre de la photographie Ghent: S.M.A.K. Glasgow: CCA Centre for Contemporary Arts / Glasgow Sculpture Studios Graz: Grazer Kunstverein / Kunsthaus Graz / Künstlerhaus KM– / para_SITE Gallery Grijon: LABoral Centre for Art and Creative Industries Groningen: University of Groningen Hamburg: Kunstverein in Hamburg Helsinki: Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Hobart: CAST Gallery / INFLIGHT Hong Kong: Asia Art Archive Iași: theartstudent at the University of Fine Arts, Iași Innsbruck: Galerie im Taxispalais Istanbul: BAS / Cda-Projects / DEPO / SALT Johannesburg: Center for Historical Reenactments Kansas City: La Cucaracha Press Klagenfurt: Kunstraum Lakeside Kristiansand: SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum Leeds: Pavilion Lisbon: Maumaus, Escola de Artes Visuais / Oporto / Kunsthalle Lissabon Ljubljana: Moderna galerija Llandudno: MOSTYN London: Architectural Association—Bedford Press / Calvert 22 / Chisenhale Gallery / Gasworks / ICA / Serpentine Gallery / The Showroom / Visiting Arts Los Angeles: REDCAT Loughborough: Radar, Loughborough University Luxembourg: Casino Luxembourg Madrid: Brumaria / CA2M / PENSART Maastricht: Jan van Eyck Academie Marfa: Ballroom Marfa Melbourne: Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) / World Food Books Mexico City: Librería Casa Bosques / Proyectos Monclova Milan: Fondazione Nicola Trussardi / HangarBicocca Milton Keynes: MK Gallery Minneapolis: Walker Art Center Moncton: Fixed Cog Hero (a bicycle courier company) Montreal: Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) Moscow: Garage Center for Contemporary Culture Munich: Haus der Kunst / Museum Villa Stuck / Walther Koenig Bookshop New Delhi: Sarai CSDS New York: e-flux / Independent Curators International (ICI) / Printed Matter, Inc Nottingham: Nottingham Contemporary Omaha: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts Oslo: Kunstnernes hus Oxford: Modern Art Oxford Padona: Fondazione March Per L’Arte Contemporanea Paris: castillo/corrales – Section 7 Books / Centre Pompidou / Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers Philadelphia: Bodega Pori: Pori Art Museum Portland: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) / Publication Studio Porto: Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves Prague: DOX Centre for Contemporary Art Prishtina: Stacion – Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina Providence: AS220 Reykjavik: Reykjavik Art Museum Riga: kim? Rio de Janeiro: Capacete / A Gentil Carioca Rome: MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma / Opera Rebis Rotterdam: Piet Zwart Institute / Witte de With | Center for Contemporary Art Saint-Nazaire: Le Grand Cafe, centre d’art contemporain Salzburg: Salzburger Kunstverein San Antonio: Artpace São Paulo: KUNSTHALLE São Paulo / Master in Visual Arts, Faculdade Santa Marcelina Sarajevo: Sarajevo Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA) Seoul: The Books / The Book Society Sherbrooke: Foreman Art Gallery of Bishop’s University Skopje: Press to Exit Project Space Sofia: ICA-Sofia / Sofia Art Gallery St Erme Outre et Ramecourt: Performing Arts Forum St Louis: White Flag Projects Stockholm: Bonniers Konsthall / Iaspis / Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation / Konstfack, University College of Art, Craft and Design / Konsthall C / Tensta konsthall Stuttgart: Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart Sydney: Artspace Tallinn: Kumu Art Museum of Estonia The Hague: Stroom Den Haag Toronto: Art Metropole / Mercer Union / The Power Plant Torun: Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu in Torun (CoCA) Toowoomba: Raygun Contemporary Art Projects Trieste: Trieste Contemporanea Umeå: Bildmuseet, Umeå University Utrecht: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst / Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory Vaduz: Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein Valletta: Malta Contemporary Art Foundation Vancouver: Artspeak / Fillip—Motto / Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia / READ Books, Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art and Design Vienna: Kunsthalle Wien / Salon für Kunstbuch—21er Haus Vigo: MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Vigo Vilnius: Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) Vitoria-Gasteiz: Centro Cultural Montehermoso Kulturunea Visby: BAC – Baltic Art Center Warsaw: Zachęta National Gallery of Art Wiesbaden: Nassauischer Kunstverein (NKV) Yerevan: Armenian Center For Contemporary Experimental Art (NPAK) Zagreb: Galerija Miroslav Kraljevic / Gallery Nova / DeLVe | Institute for Duration, Location and Variables Zurich: Postgraduate Program in Curating, Zürich University of the Arts / Shedhalle / White Space.

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