|Biographical detail : ||A German filmmaker
An avant-garde German filmmaker and video artiste Harun Farocki’s work examined the ways images are used to inform, instruct, persuade and propagandise.
He made more than 100 films, many of them short experimental documentaries that explored contemporary life, and what he saw as its myriad depredations — war, imprisonment, surveillance, capitalism — through the visual stimuli that attend them. Harun Farocki’s films sought to illuminate the ways that the technology of image-making is used to shape public ideology.
His work, shown on European television, has also been the subject of major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London and elsewhere.
His best-known early film, “Inextinguishable Fire” (1969), is a meditation on the United States’ use of napalm in Vietnam. Little actual combat footage was employed; instead, Harun Farocki presented images suggesting the sterile offices of the Dow Chemical Company, which manufactured napalm. In a 1988 film “Images of the World and the Inscription of War,” he explores the idea of the fatal blind spot. In “I Thought I Was Seeing Convicts” (2000), he juxtaposes surveillance tapes of inmates at the California State Prison in Corcoran with footage monitoring the ebb and flow of consumers in a shopping mall.
His light-hearted and humorous 1990 documentary is “How to Live in the German Federal Republic.” On the whole, Harun Farocki’s film seemed to say, under the strains of modern life, the objects bear up better than the people do.
The son of an Indian father who had migrated to Germany in the 1920s Harun El Usman Faroghi was born in Neutitschein (now Novy Jicin), in what was then German-annexed Czechoslovakia; he simplified the spelling of his surname as a young man. After the war, he and his family lived in India and Indonesia before resettling in West Germany.
He was most recently a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. From 1993 to 1999, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley. Harun Farocki passed away near Berlin.