Skip to content

Images of the World and the Inscription of War

In 1944, at the height of the Nazi threat, the US military planned to bomb an IG Farben industrial plant, which happened to be next to Auschwitz. This fact, only noticed 30 years later through examination of aerial maps, leads Farocki into an extended treatise on the power of visual machines and constructed imagery on what we do and don’t see, and how this shapes our complicity. The film is unsettlingly effective in laying out these visual dynamics: “One must be just as wary of pictures as of words. There is no literature without linguistic criticism, without the author being critical of the existing language. It’s just the same with film. One need not look for new, as yet unseen images, but one must work with existing ones in such a way that they become new.”—Jörg Becker.

Genres: Experimental Documentary

Other Films by Harun Farocki

The Inextinguishable Fire

Farocki’s vital early short charts the US deployment of napalm in Vietnam and the larger effect of its use on society. Farocki inserts himself in the film to illustrate extremes in a groundbreaking experiment in documentary filmmaking.

In Comparison

Farocki, who boasts a distinguished career as one of Europe’s foremost documentarians and whose films often critique the valences of modern life, here trains his camera on bricks and their differing modes of production around the world, in all sorts of contexts, both machine- and man-made. Through a distanced approach virtually devoid of judgment, IN