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14:14, 13 October 2012 - Monoskop

14:14, 13 October 2012 - Monoskop

Painting Pavements 49

Painting Pavements 49 always had a fine ear for the German language, for the etymology of words and the meanings that resonate within them, but above all for the abuses to which language is subjected. Because he has such a clear idea of how insidiously false consciousness can contaminate speech, his critique of language is, first and foremost, a critique of capitalism. Invariably, the traces of language abuse, no less than that of image abuse, point back to Germany’s past, although Farocki rarely makes the link explicit. His own language plays a major part, forcing itself into consciousness along with the commentaries of so many of his films as the filmmaker’s personal signature, and often provides the very scaffolding for his films. This language is not poetic. But it stimulates thought because it is rough cut and avoids rhetorical flourishes. Farocki was always at pains to find a visual language that matched the precision with which his texts seize and hold on to reality. And you can tell from his films how long he had to wrestle with the problem that the words were there first, and that the images only served to transmit them. The first attempts at liberation from the ballast of language and of conceptual thought were Make Up (1973) and Der Geschmack des Lebens (The Taste of Life, 1979), where first dialogue, then commentary were reduced to their bare essentials. But even in Between Two Wars, Before Your Eyes – Vietnam and Wie man sieht (As You See, 1986), dialogue or commentary seem to have been copied from a textbook or manual, because Farocki’s critique of ideology is itself still based on ideology as a system of concepts, which is simply supported by images. The images cannot speak for themselves. In the best of cases (for instance, in several passages from Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges (Images of the World and the Inscription of War, 1988), Farocki manages to treat writing, language, and image as filmic elements of equal value. Commentary found its proper place when applied as counterpoint, thereby creating a space for thinking located between image and language. Nonetheless, Farocki’s ideal has always been to let only the images speak for him, an ideal he keeps open in order to counter his distrust of the impact of images. But this is precisely the contradiction that makes his development as a filmmaker so interesting and multifaceted. In the cases where he abandoned the essayistic style, he managed, at about the same time as his essay films, to also liberate himself from wordiness: both Ein Bild (An Image, 1983) and Die Schulung (The Training Course, 1987) dispense with commentary, the former still includes the authoritarian gesture of the camera, the latter without any didacticism, and more in the style of Direct Cinema (see ill. 32).

50 Harun Farocki Becoming Interchangeable The tendency to treat his own images as if they were ‘found’ footage, which already characterised Farocki’s essay films As you See and Images of the World was logically extended in Leben – BRD (How to Live in the FRG, 1989). The film gives an early indication that Farocki would soon abandon altogether shooting his own material in order to work solely with ready-made shots. Footage that is seemingly author-less but was in fact carefully researched and ‘found’, proves that Farocki’s assistant, Michael Trabitzsch, is responsible for an increasing input in the final product. As the film makes clear, Farocki’s ideas of what is filmic are moving further away from what is photographic, even though Ingo Kratisch was once again operating the camera. ‘Operating’ in this case is to be understood literally. It is a kind of photography, which no longer makes great demands on the cameraman’s expertise. Every photographic enhancement (by no means a privilege of the fiction film) is intentionally avoided; except for a few pans, the shots remain static and give rise to the suspicion that the cameraman may have left his position in between setups. The film’s photographic minimalism does indeed evoke something claustrophobic, not unlike images from surveillance cameras, many shots could have been taken in a coin-operated photo booth. How to Live in the FRG has the air of a film without an author, reinforced by the lack of commentary. However, the serial principle of the film, evident in its montage and mosaic aspects, gives it an intensity far superior to films like The Training Course, because the subject is no longer an esoteric club of professionals but the state of a whole nation (see ill. 58). It allows every (German) viewer to draw a connection with his or her own life. What we see is, on the surface, nothing ‘special’: daily life, in a nutshell (the film title’s multiple ironies could not possibly be bettered). Everyone who can turn on a camera, the film suggests, could make a film like this. In a way, this is true, but it is a misconception, nonetheless. For not everyone has the inner distance to risk the concept of such a film. And this, despite the fact that Farocki’s method in this instance is that of a rather traditional artistic realism: whoever wishes to learn something about a society has to turn to what is self-evident. For what is put under the spotlight rarely reveals anything. The ‘insignificantly’ self-evident on the other hand, blown up on the big screen in the cinema, out of all human proportion, can truly express the grotesque aspects of what is being acted out. The fact that reality has slipped from our grip and has become a game of make-believe could hardly be more aptly formulated than in How to Live in the FRG, which for me is Farocki’s most important and most radical film to date. The Taste of Life, made ten years earlier, gave a foretaste of How to Live in the FRG (here the cyclical principle

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    100 Harun Farocki cal perspective).

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    102 Harun Farocki Farocki’s film

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    104 Harun Farocki Voice of Robert:

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    106 Harun Farocki rents out a cinem

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    Dog from the Freeway Harun Farocki

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    Dog from the Freeway 111 In the win

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    Dog from the Freeway 115 The spark

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    Dog from the Freeway 117 This wisdo

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    Dog from the Freeway 119 The villag

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    Dog from the Freeway 121 peace, the

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    Dog from the Freeway 123 MACV NLF P

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    Dog from the Freeway 131 ‘For rea

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    Political Filmmaking after Brecht:

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    ack to the 1960s is necessary, when

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    The Road Not Taken: Films by Harun

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    The Road Not Taken: Films by Harun

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    The Road Not Taken: Films by Harun

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    164 Harun Farocki with Peter Nestle

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    166 Harun Farocki why were there so

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    170 Harun Farocki shard that finall

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    172 Harun Farocki In the laboratory

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    174 Harun Farocki This is, of cours

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    Making the World Superfluous: An In

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    Making the World Superfluous: An In

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    Making the World Superfluous: An In

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    Making the World Superfluous: An In

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    Reality Would Have to Begin Harun F

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    Reality Would Have to Begin 195 The

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    Reality Would Have to Begin 199 in

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    Reality Would Have to Begin 201 roo

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    Light Weapons Tom Keenan ... Scan F

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    Light Weapons 205 pressed together.

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    Light Weapons 207 ment’s opening

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    Light Weapons 209 3. The image is a

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    Film: Media: Work: Archive

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    238 Harun Farocki 1895, the Lumièr

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    240 Harun Farocki Metropolis (1927)

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    242 Harun Farocki worst acts of vio

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    On Media and Democratic Politics: V

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    On Media and Democratic Politics: V

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    On Media and Democratic Politics: V

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    On Media and Democratic Politics: V

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    Towards an Archive for Visual Conce

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    From the Surveillance Society to th

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    290 Harun Farocki more important to

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    292 Harun Farocki breastplates, and

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    294 Harun Farocki tive’ nuclear o

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    Nine Minutes in the Yard: A Convers

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    Nine Minutes in the Yard: A Convers

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    Harun Farocki: Critical Strategies

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    Harun Farocki: Critical Strategies

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    Acknowledgements The editor wishes

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    Farocki: A Filmography 1966 Zwei We

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    Farocki: A Filmography 329 1972 Rem

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    Farocki: A Filmography 331 editor p

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    Farocki: A Filmography 335 1977 Ein

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    Farocki: A Filmography 347 quotatio

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    Farocki: A Filmography 349 Kinostad

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    Farocki: A Filmography 351 1992 Vid

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    Farocki: A Filmography 353 awards n

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    Farocki: A Filmography 355 Das Thea

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    Farocki: A Filmography 357 Stillebe

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    Farocki: A Filmography 359 length 6

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    Farocki: A Filmography 361 2002 Eye

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    364 Harun Farocki search fellowship

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    Index of Names Achternbusch, Herber

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    Index 369 Ernst, Wolfgang 37-38, 26

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    Index 371 Lumières, Auguste and Lo

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    Index 373 Truffaut, François 82, 3

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    376 Harun Farocki Das Prinzip Hoffn

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    378 Harun Farocki Nick’s Film - L

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