Artists' Television Access

3 films by Harun Farocki

Friday, March 6, 2020, 7:30 pm, $7-$10

In partnership with Harun Farocki GbR, Artists’ Television Access presents an evening of three short films by the renowned filmmaker, writer, and media theorist.

The Expression of Hands (Der Ausdruck der Hände, 1997)
30 mins.

Historically, the cinema close-up was initially employed to convey emotions through facial expressions. But soon filmmakers also began focusing their attention on hands. Using film extracts, Farocki explores this visual language, it’s symbolism, Freudian slips, automatisms and its music. Often, hands betray an emotion which the face tries to dissimulate. They can also function as a conduit (exchanging money) or witness to a form of competence (work).

Workers Leaving the Factory (Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik, 1995)
36 mins.

Workers Leaving the Factory – such was the title of the first cinema film ever shown in public. For 45 seconds, this still existant sequence depicts workers at the photographic products factory in Lyon owned by the brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière hurrying, closely packed, out of the shadows of the factory gates and into the afternoon sun. Only here, in departing, are the workers visible as a social group. But where are they going? To a meeting? To the barricades? Or simply home?
These questions have preoccupied generations of documentary filmmakers. For the space before the factory gates has always been the scene of social conflicts. And furthermore, this sequence has become an icon of the narrative medium in the history of the cinema.
In his documentary essay of the same title, Harun Farocki explores this scene right through the history of film. The result of this effort is a fascinating cinematographic analysis in the medium of cinematography itself, ranging in scope from Chaplin’s Modern Times to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone!. Farocki’s film shows that the Lumière brothers’ sequence already carries within itself the germ of a foreseeable social development: the eventual disappearance of this form of industrial labor.

–Klaus Gronenborn

Eye/Machine II (Auge / Maschine II, 2002)
16 mins.

How can the distinction between ‘man’ and ‘machine’ still be made given today’s technology? In modern weapons technology the categories are on the move: intelligence is no longer limited to humans. In Eye/Machine II, Farocki has brought together visual material from both military and civilian sectors, showing machines operating intelligently and what it is they see when working on the basis of image processing programs. The traditional man-machine distinction becomes reduced to ‘eye/machine,’ where cameras are implanted into the machines as eyes.

As a result of the Gulf War, the technology of warfare came to provide an innovative impulse, which boosted the development of civilian production. Farocki shows us computer simulated images looking like something out of science-fiction films: rockets steer towards islands set in a shining sea; apartment blocks are blown up; fighter aircraft fire at one another with rockets and defend themselves with virtual flares… These computer battlefields–will they suffice or shall we need further rationalization drives for new wars? Eye/Machine II is the continuation of a wider examination of the same subject: intelligent machines and intelligent weapons.

As an installation, the work is presented on two monitors or as a double projection. In this, the single-channel version, the two image tracks are shown simultaneously on one screen.

–Antje Ehmann

all stills courtesy of Matthias Rajmann (FILM SHIFT)
© Harun Farocki GbR, Berlin

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