Eye/Machine I, II and III, 2003
Video compilation, color and sound
The Greene Naftali Gallery is pleased to announce the United States premiere of Eye/Machine, a new film installation by Harun Farocki. Running from February 28 to March 30, 2002, this exhibition marks a rare occasion to view a work by one of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers working in Europe today.
Since the late 1960s, Harun Farocki (German, b. 1944) has produced over seventy dramatic and non-fiction films, though many have never been seen by American audiences. Underscoring the political and ideological function of image making, Farocki’s films often combine newsreel, archival, and industrial/technological footage with text or voice narratives in the form of “film-essays.” Images of the World and the Inscription of War (1988), for instance, one of Farocki’s most renowned works, analyzes the Enlightenment history of perception and measurement by meditating on what is “not seen” in a World War II aerial photograph targeting the IG Farben factories for American bombs. Not until the 1970s would CIA researchers understand that the camera had also pinpointed Auschwitz’s barracks and gas chambers just down the road.
The subject of retrospectives at The Museum of Modern Art (1999) and the Westfalischer Kunstverein (2001), Farocki has stated about his films, “One must work with existing images in such a way that they become new. There are many ways to do this. Mine is to look for buried meanings and to clear away the debris lying on top of the pictures. In so doing, I try not to add ideas to the film; I try to think in film so that the ideas come out of filmic articulation.”
The Greene Naftali Gallery will present Eye/Machine (2001) as a double screen projection in its main space. Extending Farocki’s analysis of the apparatuses of image production, Eye/Machine addresses the automation of images in the present era of “smart machines, “smart bombs,” and person-less cameras. Deriving from military technology, the first automated images were those photographs taken from airplanes to measure the accuracy of missile drops during World War II. Eye/Machine charts a kind of genealogy from this moment to the current ubiquity of mechanized imaging in the technological and commercial sectors. The film’s “launching” image is a grainy black-and-white picture of an airstrip seen through an automated viewfinder. Beneath it, a subtitle reads: “Images like these could be seen in 1991 – of the war against Iraq / Operational images / Not propaganda, yet an ad for intelligent machines.”
I Thought I Was Seeing Convicts (2000), will also be on view as monitor work. It was originally commissioned by the Generali Foundation in Vienna and shown as a double screen, a meditation on the role of surveillance technology in prisons and shopping centers alike. A collection of Farocki’s essays, Imprint: Writings, has recently been published by Lukas & Sternberg and will be available at the gallery.