Harun Farocki ‘Against What? Against Whom?‘
Raven Row, London. 19.11.09-07.02.10
Harun Farocki’s exhibition shows 9 works, both two-screen and multi-screen types.
As I was watching these works I was strucked by the diversity of feelings and thoughts they generated in me.
According to Farucki in the genre of film essay ‘one image can comment on another, lending montage – editing – an extra dimension: ‘There is both succession and simultaneity, the relationship of one image to the next as well as to the one alongside it.’*
So making a montage is basically editing and that is the ‘foundation of all film work’.*
The works and the exhibition itself, curated by Alex Sainsbury, are edited in multiple ways. Farucki says: ‘montage is always about similarity and differerence.’ Those works with emotional message stand closer to me, so my attention was drawn more to Feasting or Flying, 2008 and Immersion, 2009, than for example Eye/Machine III, 2003.
However, for me it was more important to look at the relationship between the works themselves. They form a special montage of Faroki’s works and showed in how many ways we now use moving images. They became an essential part of our lives; we use them for industrial, military, surveilance and entertainment purposes amongst others.
The similarities and differences, the ‘construction of arguments, which are formed through personal association rather than academic precision’ * provide a lot to think about.
I found it fascinating how the art of making a montage/ editing/ arranging images and moving images can trigger feelings and arguments. Looking back to the experience of visiting the exhibition, I can say that I understand a lot more about the legacy of film essays.
I am also content about the fact that this is again another genre which is slipping through the fingers of ‘academic precision’ while being ‘formed through personal association’. I believe that the amount of available information in today’s world makes it almost impossible to be perfectly precise academically. It also relates to the argument about institutionalised art education, which is based on a delicate and dynamic balance between external standardised and inward personal processes.
Farucki and the curator of the exhibition took me to a journey, from which I returned richer with a better understanding on film essays and a few more questions; and I am grateful for that.
Eye/Machine III, 2003, Video, 2 screens, 25 minutes
‘…explores ‘operational images’ made only for technicians, or not for the human eye at all. Cruise missiles are programmed to find their way…’*
Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki Feasting or Flying, 2008. Video, 6 screens, 24 minutes
‘…homage to the film actor, as well as a deconstruction of the tragic hero in cinema. Scenes on the subject of male suicide reveal the way cinema constructs narratives of failure.’*
Immersion, 2009. Video, 2 screens, 20 minutes
‘…workshop for the US military…, which demonstrates how the virtual reality scenarios of computer games can be used to treat post-traumatic stress.’*