Harun Farocki Parallele
15 January – 15 February 2014
In 2007, Harun Farocki, whose work has had a decisive influence on the history of the political film since the late 1960s, was the first artist and film-maker featured at Thaddaeus Ropac. Besides over 100 productions made for television and cinema, Farocki – curator, long-time author and editor of the magazine Filmkritik, and visiting professor at Berkeley, Harvard and Vienna – had set out his reflections on the relation between society, politics and the moving picture. His importance for the visual arts was reflected in retrospectives of his films in institutions such as Tate Modern in London, and solo exhibitions in the Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK) in Vienna, Jeu de Paume in Paris, Museum Ludwig in Cologne and more recently in the Kunsthaus in Bregenz. The significance of his films and installations was demonstrated not least through his participation in the documenta in 1997 and 2007, as well as in the Venice Biennale in 2014.
For the first time, the Paris Marais exhibition featured Farocki's new four-part Parallele I-IV (2012-14), which the artist had been working on for the past two years. It coincidesdwith a solo exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, which was held from the beginning of February to the end of July in 2014.
The question of how technologically produced images influence and define our social and political spheres, our consciousness and our habits, had been a leitmotiv in Farocki's work for many years. In his new cycle, Farocki described the 30-year-long developmental history of computer graphics, with a special focus on the aspect of animation. The work was based on the assumption that we live in technologically produced image worlds, which Farocki characterised as ideal-typical. It seemed that soon reality will no longer be the criterion for the imperfect image, but rather the virtual image would be the criterion for imperfect reality.
The four-part cycle Parallele dealt with the image genre of computer animation. Computer animations were currently becoming a general model, surpassing film. In films, there was the wind that blows and the wind that was produced by a wind machine. Computer images do not have two kinds of wind.
Parallele I opened up a history of styles in computer graphics. The first games of the 1980s consisted of only horizontal and vertical lines. This abstraction was seen as a failing, and today representations were oriented towards photo-realism.
Parallele II and III seeked out the boundaries of the game worlds and the nature of the objects. It emerged that many game worlds take the form of discs floating in the universe – reminiscent of pre-Hellenistic conceptions of the world. The worlds have an apron and a backdrop, like theatre stages, and the things in these games had no real existence. Each of their properties were separately constructed and assigned to them.
Parallele IV explored the heroes of the games, the protagonists whom the respective players follow through 1940s L.A., a post-apocalyptic, a Western or other genre worlds. The heroes have no parents or teachers; they must find the rules to follow of their own accord. They hardly have more than one facial expression and only very few character traits which they express in a number of different if almost interchangeable short sentences. They are homunculi, anthropomorphous beings, created by humans. Whoever plays with them has a share in the creator's pride.