Samos YoungArtists Festival


Harun Farocki: Videoinstallations

Between Eye and Hand (Zwischen Auge und Hand)

Video installations by Harun Farocki in the former Hotel Pythagoras on Samos

Exhibition from July 20 to September 20, 2012. Official opening: August 4, 2012, 8 p.m. in the presence of the artist.

An exhibition accompanying the SAMOS YOUNG ARTISTS FESTIVAL in cooperation with the GALERIE THADDAEUS ROPAC, Paris/Salzburg.

Sponsored by the initiators of the Samos Young Artists Festival.

Curator: Antje Ehmann
Organizational consultation and support: Alexandros J. Stanas

The center of the exhibition is the four-part series Ernste Spiele (2009/2010). For this video installation, Farocki filmed soldiers on American military bases who were being trained with the aid of computer games.

These animation programs are used to prepare soldiers for missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other potential war zones. Part III of the series, Immersion, shows how nearly the same animated images are used in therapy to treat traumatized soldiers upon their return from military service. Farocki questions the status of these computer-animated images.

The relationship between technology and war also played an essential role in Farocki's earlier works. In Auge/Machine (2003), he investigates developments in war technology as they relate to new wars. He compares the types of surveillance technologies used in wars to the use of cameras in civilian life. These include video monitors in public spaces or high-tech industrial companies. It is apparent that both in war as well as in industry, the human eye is being increasingly replaced by computerized perception systems.

In the two-channel installation Vergleich über ein Drittes (2007), documentation of technologies for the production of bricks reveals the global system of continuity and inequality that defines the modern world. After working exclusively with video for many years, Farocki now had the opportunity to film in 16mm on construction sites in India, Africa and Europe.

The exhibition also contains Farocki's first film made without camera. In-Formation (2005) consists exclusively of pictograms scanned from school textbooks, periodicals and newspapers. Based on statistics and diagrams, Farocki reconstructs the history of migration to the Federal Republic of Germany. In doing so, he criticizes the manner in which migration is illustrated. By tracing certain iconic representations and symbols back to their origins and examining their meanings – meanings that were not consciously intended – ideology is discovered where it would not be expected.

Text: Antje Ehmann


Presented works:

Transmission (Übertragung), 2007

Single-channel video installation

1 track, col. sound, 43 min. (loop)

The subject of this video work is ritualized gestures: behaviors, especially hand movements that people use when encountering commemorative sites, memorials and simple still photos. All of these rituals, whether of an incidental, everyday or sacred character, have in common the fact that they attempt to touch the untouchable, physically appropriate the intellectual or tangibly grasp the intangible.

(Production statement)

In-Formation (Aufstellung), 2005

Video installation

1 track, b/w & color, silent, 16 min. (loop)

Charts created to represent the shopping basket, the pensions gap or migration, for example, are anachronistic; they are a return to political allegories from the nineteenth century. Whether they take the form of pictograms or only bar graphs or pie charts, they always show a touching inability to express the reality behind the abstraction. We have selected charts from newspapers, school textbooks and government documents and used them to reconstruct the history of migration to the Federal Republic of Germany. We criticize the terms used to represent migration; we subsequently trace iconic and symbolic signs back to their origins and investigate their content for meanings that were not consciously intended.

(Harun Farocki)

Comparison via a Third (Vergleich über ein Drittes), 2007

Two-channel video installation

1 track, color, sound, 24 min. (loop)

Comparison via a Third consists of a double projection that shows brick production as well as the processing of burnt stones to buildings in Africa, India and Europe. Recorded in the factual mode of a documentary film, this work requires no spoken commentary and achieves its effect solely through the suggestive atmosphere of its images. Even if emotional differences are apparent between collective production in Africa and machine-manufactured brick production in Europe, the film does not adopt a clear stance. By showing seemingly archaic production conditions during the construction of high-rises in India, however, the video work does raise awareness for the parallelisms between various industrial levels within a society, thus illustrating the dubious nature of traditional ideas about progress.

(Ylmaz Dziewior)

Eye/Machine III (Auge/Maschine III), 2003

Two-channel video installation

1 track, color, sound, 23 min. (loop)

The third part of the Eye/Machine cycle is intended to organize the materials related to the operational image. These are images that do not reproduce a process, but that are part of it. Even the Cruise Missiles of the 1980s had images of real landscapes stored in their memories. During flight, they recorded actual photos and their software compared the stored images with the actual ones. This is, so to speak, a comparison of idea and reality or a juxtaposition of pure war and the impurity of the real. This juxtaposition is also a montage, and montage is always oriented to similarity/difference. Many operational images are criss-crossed by colored guide lines meant to illustrate the work requiring recognition. The lines emphatically communicate what is important in the pictures – and just as emphatically what should be of no importance at all. The extraneous reality is denied – a constant denial that has a counter-effect.

(Harun Farocki)

Serious Games I: Watson is Down (Ernste Spiele I: Watson ist hin), 2010

Two-channel video installation

1 track, color, sound, 8 min. (loop)

In fall 2009, we filmed an exercise at a US Marine base in Twentynine Palms, California. Four marines sitting in a classroom took on the role of a tank crew. They each had laptops on which they saw their own vehicle and others in their unit and could steer and drive this vehicle through a computer-animated landscape. The simulated Afghan terrain is based on geographical data from Afghanistan. A street in the computerized landscape runs just like it does in Afghanistan; the same is true for every tree, all of the ground vegetation or the ridges. The trainers place bombs and insurgents and rebels in the landscape. A sniper shot the aerial gunner of the tank we documented with our camera. When a tank drives over barren land, it creates a tail of dust. The more vegetation there is, the less dust is created. On asphalt streets there is no dust. Despite this fidelity to detail, death during the computer game is something else than in reality.

(Harun Farocki)

Serious Games II: Three Dead, (Ernste Spiele II: Drei tot), 2010

Video installation

1 track, color, sound, 8 min. (loop)

We also filmed an exercise in Twentynine Palms with circa 300 extras who represented the Afghan and Iraqi population. Several dozen Marines stood on guard and went on patrol. The city in which the maneuver took place was situated on a slight hill in the desert. Its buildings were assembled from containers. It looked as though reality had been created to look like a computer animation.

(Harun Farocki)

Serious Games III: Immersion (Ernste Spiele III: Immersion), 2009

Two-channel video installation

1 track, color, sound, 20 min. (loop)

In January 2009, we filmed for two days in Fort Lewis, close to Seattle, Washington. We recorded a workshop in which civilian therapists showed army therapists how to use Virtual Iraq. This program is used to treat present and former soldiers who had been traumatized in the war. The immersion therapy lets patients repeat, retell and relive key experiences. Virtual Iraq, or 'VI' for short, is a computer animation program that simplifies or strengthens – immersion – the experience that is responsible for the fear. The training is done primarily by means of role-playing. The therapist sits at the computer wearing a hands-free intercom. The patient sits or stands to the side wearing data goggles. The VI program is played on these. There are two locations: first, a street running through the desert on which an armored vehicle is driving; second, an oriental city with a market, mosque, large squares and narrow streets with houses that can be navigated through. The patient does the navigating; the therapist selects incidents. The therapist can guide the patient into a virtual ambush or make him witness a terrible attack. Many types of noises can be selected, including helicopters, muezzins and all types of explosions.

(Harun Farocki)

Serious Games IV: A Sun with no Shadow (Ernste Spiele IV: Eine Sonne ohne Schatten), 2010

Two-channel video installation

1 track, color, sound, 8 min. (loop)

This chapter reflects on the fact that the images used to prepare for war are incredibly similar to those used to follow it up afterwards. There is one difference, however: the program for remembering traumatic experiences is somewhat more inexpensive. Nothing and no one has a shadow here.

(Harun Farocki)


All works are provided courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg.