Inextinguishable Fire

Inextinguishable Fire
Nothing To See Here’s One Year Anniversary Screening
A Night of Works by Harun Farocki
Saturday, February 21, 2015, 7pm doors, screening starts promptly at 7.30pm, $8 or Pay Way You Can
Dikeou Collection [1615 California Street, Suite 515, Denver]

“The essence of media violence […] which has become widespread on both surveillance monitors and television sets […]  transform[s] the spectator – just like in times of war – either as an abettor or as a potential victim.”

Last year, Nothing To See Here began by examining the role that media plays in our collective political consciousness. the TV is with us was an abbreviated history of disrupted television airwaves, documents of pirated resistance, and televised hackings. A sampling of television interruptions was followed by a special screening of Harun Farocki & Andrei Ujica’s Videograms of a Revolution, a compelling look at the Romanian revolution of December 1989 in a new media-based form of historiography.

One year later and after Farocki’s recent passing, Nothing To See Here revisits his work, presenting three pieces spanning his almost fifty year career. The works we have selected tackle dominant themes in Farocki’s overall body of work including issues of war, military engagement, capital and cultural ethics and the corporate occult tied together by the camera’s role in documenting and shaping our relationship to the images that they produce.

“Over more than four decades, Farocki produced an extraordinary body of work that, for someone who continuously compared things, situations, and images to one another, is paradoxically incomparable. In all he did, he kept it simple, clear, and grounded. In cinematic terms: at eye level. His legacy spans generations, genres, and geographies. And the abundance of ideas and perspectives in his work does not cease to inspire. It trickles, disseminates, perseveres.” (Beginnings: Harun Farocki, 1944–2014; Hito Steyerl, 08, 14)

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Inextinguishable Fire, Harun Farocki, 1969, 21:44mins
“When we show you pictures of napalm victims, you’ll shut your eyes. You’ll close your eyes to the pictures. Then you’ll close them to the memory. And then you’ll close your eyes to the facts.” These words are spoken at the beginning of an agitprop film that can be viewed as a unique and remarkable development. Farocki refrains from making any sort of emotional appeal. His point of departure is the following: “When napalm is burning, it is too late to extinguish it. You have to fight napalm where it is produced: in the factories.” Resolutely, Farocki names names: the manufacturer is Dow Chemical, based in Midland, Michigan in the United States. Against backdrops suggesting the laboratories and offices of this corporation, the film then proceeds to educate us with an austerity reminiscent of Jean Marie Straub. Farocki’s development unfolds: “(1) A major corporation is like a construction set. It can be used to put together the whole world. (2) Because of the growing division of labor, many people no longer recognize the role they play in producing mass destruction. (3) That which is manufactured in the end is the product of the workers, students, and engineers.” This last thesis is illustrated with an alarmingly clear image. The same actor, each time at a washroom sink, introduces himself as a worker, a student, an engineer. As an engineer, carrying a vacuum cleaner in one hand and a machine gun in the other, he says, “I am an engineer and I work for an electrical corporation. The workers think we produce vacuum cleaners. The students think we make machine guns. This vacuum cleaner can be a valuable weapon. This machine gun can be a useful household appliance. What we produce is the product of the workers, students, and engineers.” (Hans Stempel, Frankfurter Rundschau, June 14m 1969)

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I Thought I Was Seeing Convicts, Harun Farocki, 2000, 24mins
Images from the maximum-security prison in Corcoran, California. The surveillance camera shows a pie-shaped segment: a conrete-paved yard where the prisoners, dressed in shorts and mostly shirtless, are allowed to spend a half an hour a day. A convict attacks another, upon which those uninvolved lay themselves flat on the ground, their arms over their heads. Thy know what comes now: the guard will call out a warning and the fire rubber bullets. If the convicts do not stop fighting now, the guard will shoot for real. The picures are silent, the trail of gun smoke drifts across the picture. The camera and the gun are right next to each other. The field of vision and the gun viewfinder fall together… (Harun Farocki)

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Serious Games II: Three Dead, Harun Farocki, 2010, 8mins
Again, in 29 Palms, we embarked on an exercise with around 300 extras who represented both the Afghan and Iraqi population. A few dozen Marines were on guard and went out on patrol. The town where the maneuver was carried out was on a slight rising in the desert and its buildings were made from containers. It looked as though we had modeled reality on a computer animation. (Harun Farocki)