Political media art

On seeing the video installation exhibited in Galleria Huuto a hasty visitor might conclude that someone has again created some “Avanto art” – a play of geometrical shapes and colours, decorated with digital interference patterns. Something, however, is amiss: a moment later the program seems to switch on to a shopping channel demonstrating the miracles of lethally effective missile systems instead of the usual fare of lethally effective, miraculous spoon-baits for fish. In both cases, the visual effect is both astonishing and captivating.

What the visitor is seeing is Eye/Machine III by the German master of essay film Harun Farocki (b. 1944). Farocki started making films in 1966 and belongs to the Central European generation of the year 1968, an attitude made manifest by the director’s own statement regarding his works: “My films are made against the cinema and against television.” Farocki, who is often compared to Jean-Luc Godard and Chris Marker, created his own films in a relative obscurity for a long time, making his living as a freelancer producing cultural programs for television instead. His films deal with different mechanisms of surveillance, the machinery of industrial production and war, focusing particularly on their relationship with visual culture. The effect his films have on the spectator are generated by the combination of laser-sharp sarcasm and surprising standpoints that are both visual and intellectual.

During the last decade his films have attained more and more appreciation in the form of video installations, and have been exhibited in art museums around the world, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. In January 2004, Farocki received the prestigious International Media Award of the ZKM Centre for Art and Media of Karlsruhe for the second part of his Eye/Machine trilogy. Eye/Machine III is the final part of the series. It premiered in November 2003 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.

> http://www.farocki-film.de/

Harun Farocki’s video installation Eye/Machine III in Galleria Huuto (18-21 November).

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