A few moments from encounters with Harun Farocki materialize in the form of his films and his own texts, passages from emails exchanged with HF over the years, my porous memory of dinners, and our reunions in the years to come. The time-fragments presented below begin long before we met and exceed the factual-temporal event of Harun’s untimely, depressing, and shocking passing on July 30, 2014.
Such a method of selecting bits of time refers, first, to HF’s insistence on reflecting on the means of production that a person conceives of or requests for making a tribute, an analysis, or “images in language” (as Jean Genet put it) public. In other words, HF permanently questioned and updated his work methods according to his own scientific research into the technologies that influenced and changed the processing of thought through image: agit-prop films and cinema in the 1960s; television and mass media in the 1970s and 1980s; reality TV, video, and the editing table in the 1990s; computer animation, games, and post-traumatic computer-based therapies in the 2000s onwards. HF’s observation of the development of production techniques always projected his thinking, writing, and filmmaking into the contemporary world, in his search for the mechanisms behind “the industrialization of thought” (HF).
And second, this timeline wills itself to stay as precise as possible in terms of dates, names, observations, and comparisons. Learning from HF: each sentence—recorded, pictured, drawn, written, or spoken—is potentially a (never complete) archive of books and films as much as of thoughts and gestures. Each sentence carries the possibility of initiating acts of confidence through which we enter journeys of thinking—journeys of the kind that HF was so beautifully able to share, demand, propose, appreciate, let go, follow, and risk, to a degree that was always intimidating and utterly encouraging at the same time.★
Harun Farocki, Still Life, (Stilleben), 1997.
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