Harun Farocki: Working on the Sight-Lines

Harun Farocki: Working on the Sight-Lines

Harun Farocki: Working on the Sight-Lines

Harun Farocki: Working on the Sight-Lines


Filmmaker, film essayist, installation artist, writer: the Berlin artist Harun Farocki has devoted his life to the power of images. Over the thirty-plus years of his career, Farocki has explored not the images of life but rather the life of images that surrounds us in newspapers, cinema, books, television, and advertising. Harun Farocki examines, from different critical perspectives, his vast oeuvre, which includes three feature films, critical media pieces, children's television features, "learning films" in the tradition of Brecht, and installation pieces. Interviews, a selection of Farocki's own writings, and an annotated filmography complete a valuable biography of this pioneering artist and his legendary career.


Thomas Elsaesser

More than anything else, electronic control technology has a deterritorialising
effect. Locations become less specific. An airport contains a shopping centre, a
shopping centre contains a school, a school offers leisure and recreation facilities.
What are the consequences for prisons, themselves mirrors of society as well as
its counter-image and projection surface?

Harun Farocki

Documenting Change: Questions of Agency, Visibility, and

If I am interested in how the technological, and subsequently electronic media have transformed civil society, I can find no better chronicler of their histories, no more intelligent observer of their unexpected connections, no more incisive critic and yet interested party to their epoch-making significance than Harun Farocki. the fact that Farocki is both a writer and a filmmaker is therefore as much a sign of the times as a choice of vocation. Having early on decided to be, in the spirit of Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire, ‘resolutely modern’, Farocki availed himself of the most resolutely contemporary medium. But a filmmaker, by making images, not only adds images to their store in the world; he comments on the world made by these images, and does so with images. Aware that the medium chose him as much as he had chosen it for documenting public life under the rule of the image, he treats cinema with the utmost respect. So central are the technologies of picturing and vision to the twentieth century that there is little Farocki cares about which is not also a reflection on cinema itself. in this perspective, however, its role as our culture’s prime storytelling medium is almost secondary. Instead, cinema is understood as a machine of the visible that is itself largely invisible. This is why talking about airports, schools, or prisons is as much a part of the post-history of the cinema, as a fork in the road leading to the foundation of cities, the Jacquard loom with its programmable sequence of coloured threads, or the deployment of the Maxim machine gun at the battle of Omdurman are part of the pre-history of cinema.

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