The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Harun Farocki Day *

* (restored/expanded)


‘Harun Farocki’s sudden and recent passing at age 70 has been especially tragic in light of his remarkable productivity of late. In the past several months alone, Farocki has had a major retrospective focus at FICUNAM in Mexico City, while his “direct cinema” documentary Sauerbruch Hutton Architects screened in competition at Cinéma du Réel, his machinima installation-films, Parallel I-IV, were presented at the Berlin Documentary Forum, among other places, and he worked on the script of Christian Petzold’s latest film, Phoenix, which is set to premiere at TIFF. And this is not to mention all of the individual exhibitions of his work that were already planned, including at Ryerson’s Image Centre, which will open Serious Games I-IV in late September.

‘Farocki’s current popularity can certainly be attributed to his prolific output and the contemporary resonance of his film and artwork—especially in the continued exploration of Vertov’s kino-eye and its inevitable development into Das Auge of war with its attendant mass-media-cum-machine imagery, including simulation games for pleasure, as much as for recovery from trauma—but also to the astonishing prescience of his older work, which not only created seminal blueprints for analyzing and especially decrypting images, but also ignited the contagion of archive fever that has consumed much of moving-image culture for the past two decades.

‘Long considered “Benjaminian” in the author-as-producer sense—but also in beguiling ways, as The Arcades Project remains an interesting point of reference for some of Farocki’s work and research methodologies, and finds a fitting contemporary update in 2001’s The Creators of the Shopping Worlds—much recent writing on Farocki has turned to Aby Warburg and his Mnemosyne Atlas (which in great thanks to French thinkers like Georges Didi-Huberman, has enjoyed a major resurgence, especially in the art world).

‘It has perhaps too often been said that Farocki’s major contribution is (now was) his writing, he being “the best-known unknown filmmaker in Germany” to famously quote Thomas Elsaesser. His writing-thinking has been unquestionably important and influential: his conversational book on Godard co-authored with Kaja Silverman, Speaking About Godard, remains a landmark (and lively) text, as do many of his essays and articles from the German film magazine, Filmkritik (for which he was the managing editor from 1972 to 1984), and contributions to newer anthologies. Even his interviews are filled with enlightening theory, but in some ways more significant, they are brimming with a deep, unbridled cinephilia—one that revealed Farocki’s prominent iconological tendencies to be rooted not simply in the visual (the dry, the technical, and the spectacular in the true sense of the word), but in images from film history (thus, the seductive). Here, Serge Daney’s differentiation between the visual and the image is a crucial one, and Farocki’s great genius lay in his analysis of the two and, above all, in finding interest and great meaning by excavating from both. “I am a friend of the dictionary,” he proclaimed in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist, and his use of a filmic thesaurus or encyclopedia—perhaps best exemplified in his 12-channel video installation Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades (2006) (“A character only begins after they leave the factory,” he once said, intimating at the dehumanization of industrial labour in systems of mass production)—also included compilations of various kinds. These include instructional workshops and training exercises humorously deployed in How to Live in the German Federal Republic (1990) and surveillance footage in I Thought I was Seeing Convicts (2000), in addition to his thinking and speaking about Godard’s colossal Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988-1998), and the lesser-known montage gem, La verifica incerta (1965) by Gianfranco Baruchello and Alberto Grifi, for which Farocki actively helped find a new audience.

‘In some ways, Farocki’s fascination with La verifica incerta holds the key to his oeuvre in toto. With over a hundred filmic works (some of which are cinema pieces re-worked into a variation adapted for the gallery, or vice-versa), Farocki had, for the most part, fulfilled his commitment not to produce images (though of course when he did, he did so wondrously, as can be seen in one of his late great films, 2009’s In Comparison) but to use and re-use them, to put them into a different context, thereby refuting the “naïveté of the single point-of-view.” Thus influenced by Straub’s Marxist social engagement, electrified by the ballsy antics of the nouvelle vague, which unleashed a sense of freedom for rereading, reinterpreting, and fictionalizing the archive of film history, and incorporating a Brechtian desire for a synthetical approach to the language of cinema (“in order for it to persist”), Farocki was in constant search for truth, an uncertain, unverifiable, even latent and mutable truth from images that were constructed as well as those that were “unintentional.” Drawn to the denial of meaning in surveillance footage and, increasingly, in graphic simulation, Farocki always brilliantly sutured these to a larger system of capitalist complicity and implicit forms of violence. With a marked focus on footage from social institutions—recorded in the workplace, the factory, the prison, the military arena, the shopping centre, the sports stadium—Farocki revealed a different sort of dictionary: one of symptoms, societal genre conventions as it were. In Deep Play (2007), for instance, Farocki proves just how mesmerizing and addictive football footage can be with replays that could theoretically continue ad infinitum despite the final score, not to mention the notorious Zidane head-butt, arguably a dramatic high point in football history—already mass-consumed, trafficked, and altered.

‘Farocki’s “ways of seeing” were less predicated upon signification and metaphor so much as upon re- and de-contexualization, and thus, destabilization and dislocation. His theory of “soft montage,” an associative form of editing that elicits the spectactor’s engagement, offered a discursive counterpart to what Daney identified as “montage obligatory” in his observations on “The War, The Gulf and the Small Screen” in which the French critic bemoans the lack of real images capturing the war, and, later on in the essay, as a marked pessimism takes over, the decline of cinema’s power as an art form. Farocki’s suspicion of the image could be better understood as a suspicion of the production and generation of images, one energetically matched by his curiosity for and the arguably obsessive research tendencies toward not only the images themselves, but also the ideology behind their sources. He once opined that cinema does not really have a field of its own, and therefore the search could be endless, reminiscent of Godard’s wordplay between le voir et le savoir.

‘“What we produce is the product of the workers, students, and engineers.” This salient decree from Farocki’s agit-prop manifesto The Inextinguishable Fire (1969), which traces the origins of the production of napalm used in the Vietnam War to the Dow Chemical plant, introduces a through line that would bind much of his film work over the next 40 some years. There will always be a “new product” that will elicit varying degrees of devastation, be it weapons of mass destruction or a new corporate culture or brand (A New Product, 2012; Sauerbruch Hutton Architects) that will dictate a sterile, totalitarian system. Even when austerity seemed to reign and the films adhered to a dry intellectualism, Farocki was prone to rebellious flashes, none more punk than as in The Inextinguishable Fire, when he promptly put out a cigarette butt on his arm, ingeniously bridging the gap between the unimaginable reality in Vietnam and the disarming presence in the cinema. “This small gesture,” he said, “responded to an iconoclastic intention directed against cinematographic apparatuses and in so doing confirmed, with a unedited image, the force and persuasion of the filmic image itself.” Donning a preppy suit and tie, with his hair parted to one side, the violence of the gesture seemed all the greater what with his schoolboy’s charm.

‘That hand (and yes, like in Bresson, the image of the hand dominates in much of Farocki’s work) is also seen framing photographs of the Holocaust in his masterpiece, Images of the World and the Inscription of War (1989): a still image of a fetching woman, whose transfixing gaze finds that of the photographer, who, like the SS guards leading her toward her death, traps her movements. And more photographs, those which have, decades after the end of WWII, revealed the fatal “blind spot” of the evaluators whose review of aerial surveillance shots taken by an Allied aircraft failed to recognize that the photographs depicted the layout for the Auschwitz concentration camp. In Farocki’s hands (quite literally), this material is woven into a sharp, provocative, and multi-layered refutation of photographic reality, using many other tangents that build upon his argument in ways unconventional and intuitive, and employing a pseudo-Godardian double entendre with Aufklärung, the German word for both “enlightenment” and “aerial surveillance.” Cutting to the heart of media violence and the essence of an unspeakable evil and with searing humanism, Images of the World is one of the most influential, quoted, and urgent essay films, as relevant today as it was when Farocki made it.

‘Wresting images from one context in order to explore their hidden values (often lurking in the hors champs), and expanding his theories over multiple screens of late, Farocki has amassed an immense body of work—trenchant, incisive, radical, uncategorizable, and immeasurably influential. His generosity as a colleague, mentor, and collaborator can be felt in the calibre of his collaborations with Andrei Ujica, Matthias Rajmann, Christian Petzold, and his partner, Antje Ehmann, with his sense of humour and wonderment—his inextinguishable fire—never far from the work at hand. He will forever remain one of the most important artists of our time.’ — Andrea Picard





Harun Farocki Website
Harun Farocki @ IMDb
Harun Farocki @ Video Data Base
‘Why Harun Farocki Was a Major Filmmaker’
Introduction: Harun Farocki @ Senses of Cinema
‘Beginnings: Harun Farocki, 1944–2014’
‘Harun Farocki (1944–2014)’ @ Artforum
‘Harun Farocki’s Images of the World’
Harun Farocki @ mubi
‘Seeing In Retrospect: On The Canonisation Of Harun Farocki’
‘Images of the World: Notes on Harun Farocki’
‘At Our Expense: Harun Farocki’s Images at War’




The Model Artist Talks: Harun Farocki

Harun Farocki Interview

Harun Farocki : Computer Animation Rules


from anti-utopias


Gallery space is different from cinema in a sense that it allows you to show your works on more than one screen, whereas the cinema format is more linear, the viewer more passive. How did it happen that you started to show your work in gallery spaces?

Harun Farocki: I hadn’t planned this transition. It just happened that in 1995 an art space in Lille asked me to contribute something and gave me some production means. I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to do things that can’t be done with television money, more experimental things… I was very happy that I gained new territories and new resources. Then I suddenly realised that I wouldn’t get television money anymore because in the late nineties and at the turn of the century somehow the climate changed in the whole of Europe. Also public television stations no longer did work which was not totally mainstream, which was not commentary and explaining everything. Journalistic formats prevailed everywhere. Cine-clubs and independent cinemas also became more mainstream. If I make a film today I can perhaps show it at festivals worldwide but there are not more than five cinemas in Germany which would show it. I’m therefore very happy that in our space there is not so many galleries, but more art spaces. For example, what we are experiencing here in Haus der Kulturen der Welt during Berlin Documentary Forum – we see people come from totally different formations, people interested in film but also literature discourse, music, feminism and so on. This new development has created spaces that are in many cases far more interesting than the old film clubs, which were very specialised.

You show your works both in galleries and in cinemas. Do you think about the placement of your work in advance?

Harun Farocki: From the beginning, I experimented with screens, which is interesting. And I’m still in an experimental stage; I always try to find new reasons for two screens or multiple screens. In some cases I made works (like Deep Play, about soccer), where it really doesn’t matter so much if you watch it for three minutes or twenty-five minutes, because it is more about the principles that you have, the depiction of one event in twelve different formats, the different approaches – technically and aesthetically. And it is far more interesting to compare them like that than to watch the program. But I also make works that still have a strong linearity and which you have to see from the beginning to the end, otherwise you don’t really get it. I’ve always had a very repetitive structure, based on the belief that you can only create structure via repetition, of course – as music does it. That is something anti-linear, something circular in a way. My work fits the gallery context in this sense.

You speak of hybrid forms of feature and documentary films in relation to control and contingency. Can you describe your work in this context?

Harun Farocki: I’m more on the side of contingency, but on the other hand, because I’m deeply formalist I am very pre-selective, so it always fits into pre-given shapes. But I try to be open for what the concrete material asks for. If I make a film and it turns out that the approach I have taken doesn’t work I can change it, but I can’t change it endlessly. There are only four or five grids to which it could and has to fit.

How would you comment on the recent increase of documentary forms in contemporary art contexts?

Harun Farocki: I think there’s a very simple reason for all the other art forms through art history, from impressionism let’s say: representation has become so difficult and the references to the real world are so multi-faceted that it’s very difficult to approach it. So how can you really try to cover the social with paintings or etchings?

That’s really difficult, because the entire self-criticism of art history interferes. Because film and especially documentary film is not yet in this elaborated state in which the poetics are really precise and you have a critical view on everything. Yesterday I wanted to quote something by Bresson, one who, comparably to visual arts, is really on the state of composition in detail. Something one would expect from somebody in visual arts, by the way, but generally that is not the case. That is a good approach to get to the real world and to relate to the social and the political. But it is just an approach; also for the artists themselves, they take this means and deal with the so-called reality: which can also lead to strange things, many things which would never have been possible. Films can suddenly be seen in galleries, so the history of cinema and film-criticism is repeated in a way in the art spaces nowadays. For example, to say it less ambitiously, things like bad television can also find their way to art spaces.

There is a strong sense of a need to control reality, to capture it in all its multi-facet nature present in documentary film and art. As an author with a very long career, would you say that this drive towards capturing reality was always present to this extent?

Harun Farocki: When I started making films in the sixties, and I think till the end of the seventies, for the first decade, I was so busy with how the world should be that I really didn’t watch the world how it was. Yesterday, I showed a film showing people celebrating Christmas in ’68. And in those days I wouldn’t have found it interesting to cover daily life or just to register the phenomenon. Unluckily I was so busy with idealistic projections that I did not have this interest in the real. From then on I started to deal with it and luckily found all these strange things. Other phenomena – like industrialism – have fascinated me a lot. Already some time has passed now, I have been doing it for some decades and questions like what kind of world are we living in, which are the driving forces – the undercurrent or the obvious ones – remain unbelievably interesting. All these changes in life, in attitudes, fashions, it’s an ongoing process and it has not lost its momentum yet.

What is your view on post-documentary culture theory, being that Images of the World is said to be one of the landmarks of the new wave of documentary film? The shift to the question of what is real and what is not, to subjective views?

Harun Farocki: The question of the border between reality and fiction, the objective and the subjective is not new. I know these debates also from the sixties and so on. I can’t align this question with Images of the World; I don’t know in which sense it is taken for a landmark. For me it was a kind of landmark because my aim was to be theoretical or to produce ideas with films and not producing them on paper and then translating them into film. But to create something with the means of film somehow seemed to succeed and this probably only had to do with the fact that I was a little bit ahead. And that a little bit later Virilio spoke about it – War and Cinema came out. And this idea of the politics of the view and ethics of the view were elaborated later: when I did it, the terms didn’t exist. All these things had been generated in the field. I was observing and communicating with people about them, but they were not yet fixed and therefore this film seemed to be something new and I’m very happy I made it. It was probably the most ambitious work I ever did. I don’t know if I haven’t been ambitious enough since, but I’m hesitant and I try to avoid these main works and to be more peripheral. To avoid huge manifestos and rather make a little contribution, that’s my attitude nowadays.


14 of Harun Farocki’s 77 films

Parallel (2012)
Parallel I opens 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 are oriented towards photo‐realism. “For over one hundred years photography and film were the leading media. From the start, they served not only to inform and entertain, but were also media of scientific research and documentation. That’s also why these reproduction techniques were associated with notions of objectivity and contemporaneity — whereas images created by drawing and painting indicated subjectivity and the transrational. Apparently today computer animation is taking the lead. Our subject is the development and creation of digital animation. If, for example, a forest has to be covered in foliage, the basic genetic growth program will be applied, so that “trees with fresh foliage”, “a forest in which some trees bear four-week-old foliage, others six-week-old foliage” can be created. The more generative algorithms are used, the more the image detaches itself from the appearance as found and becomes an ideal-typical. Using the example of trees and bushes, water, fire and clouds we compare the development of surfaces and colourings over the past thirty years in computer animation images. We want to document reality-effects such as reflections, clouds, and smoke in their evolutionary history.”‘ — Harun Farocki




A New Product (2012)
‘In the 2012 documentary Ein neues Produkt (A New Product) by Harun Farocki, we follow the “Quickborner Team”; a business consultancy from Hamburg that specializes in the optimization of workspaces within the knowledge industry. The design of human labour and spaces for human labour in a corporate culture, as it is perceived by and discussed in consultancy agencies, is taking centre stage in this film. Farocki immersed himself for one year in the world of QT, following their meetings and their attempts to develop a new consultancy product.’ — z33

Watch an excerpt here


Serious Games (2009)
‘Harun Farocki is one of Germany’s most respected filmmakers, artists and writers. Farocki’s essay films question the production and perception of images, decoding the medium of film and examining how audiovisual culture relates to politics, technology and war. Serious Games I–IV (2009–10) is comprised of four distinct video installations—I: Watson is Down (2010), II: Three Dead (2010), III: Immersion (2009), and IV: A Sun with No Shadow (2010)— positions video game technology within the context of the military, where it originated. The work juxtaposes real-life wartime exercises with virtual reenactments in order to examine the fundamental links between technology, politics, and violence. Serious Games (2009/2010), the new work by the German video-artist Harun Farocki saw its Premiere at the Biennale in Sao Paulo in 2010.’ — Outset






Deep Play (2008)
‘Harun Farocki, the German artist/filmmaker, takes a look at the 2006 World Cup Final, between Italy and France, from 12 different angles, represented by projections. This is just a two-minute snippet of the piece, which lasts for the duration of the game. A formal expansion of the artist’s essay films, Deep Play brings together 12 different vantages on one of the biggest television events to emerge in the new millennium–the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The event, held in Germany, was reportedly seen by an estimated 1.5 billion viewers worldwide. Unfolding in simultaneous, real-time montage, Deep Play depicts the artist’s own footage of the game, official FIFA footage, charts of player stats, real-time 2D and 3D animation sequences, and stadium surveillance, exposing the visual, informational, and technological design of these grand cultural spectacles. Though visually bombarding at points, the network of images and data stages a reprocessed disarticulation of spectacle, aptly pointing out the present conditions of visuality and its overwhelming influence on representation and subjectivity.’ — collaged


Excerpt, detail


Respite (2007)
Respite consists of silent black-and-white films shot at Westerbork, a Dutch refugee camp established in 1939 for Jews fleeing Germany. In 1942, after the occupation of Holland, its function was reversed by the Nazis and it became a ‘transit camp.’ In 1944, the camp commander commissioned a film, shot by a photographer, Rudolph Breslauer. By exhuming the scattered fragments and traces of the phantom film (intertitle cards, ideas for the scenario, graphic elements), Harun Farocki inscribes the Dutch footage within the genre of the corporate film. It was meant to highlight the economic efficiency of the camp at the very moment its existence seemed threatened: at the time of filming, as the majority of Jews from the Netherlands had already been deported, Westerbork was converted into a labour camp with the approval of the commandant who feared its closure and was afraid of being transferred to another theatre of operations.’ — Sylvie Lindeperg



Nothing Ventured (2004)
‘What venture capital or VC for short actually means is explained by the film itself. Banks only lend money against collateral. Those who have none have to turn to VC companies and pay interest of 40 percent, at least. We had filmed scenes at a wide range of companies: VC companies discussing projects; entrepreneurs seeking to give shape to their ideas; consultants rehearsing their presentation. In the end we restricted ourselves to just one set of negotiations and used the material shot over two days. What tipped the balance for me was hearing the lawyer for NCTE, the company seeking capital say, “We are a little disappointed by the offer”. I felt myself transported into a Coen Brothers film. The protagonists in our story film are sharp-witted and filled with a desire to present themselves. They are negotiating the conditions for the loan of 750,000 euros.’ — Harun Farocki



Still Life (1997)
‘According to Harun Farocki, today’s photographers working in advertising are, in a way, continuing the tradition of 17th century Flemish painters in that they depict objects from everyday life – the “still life”. The filmmaker illustrates this intriguing hypothesis with three documentary sequences which show the photographers at work creating a contemporary “still life”: a cheese-board, beer glasses and an expensive watch.’ — Production Notes



Workers Leaving the Factory (1995)
Workers Leaving the Factory – such was the title of the first cinema film ever shown in public. For 45 seconds, this still-existent sequence depicts workers at the photographic products factory in Lyon, owned by the brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière, hurrying, closely packed, out of the shadows of the factory gates and into the afternoon sun. Only here, in departing, are the workers visible as a social group. But where are they going? To a meeting? To the barricades? Or simply home? The result of this effort is a fascinating cinematographic analysis in the medium of cinematography itself, ranging in scope from Chaplin’s Modern Times to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone!. Farocki’s film shows that the Lumière brothers’ sequence already carries within itself the germ of a foreseeable social development: the eventual disappearance of this form of industrial labor.’ — Klaus Gronenborn, Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung

the entire film


Videograms of a Revolution (1992)
‘Is Harun Farocki’s Videogramme einer Revolution (Videograms of a Revolution, 1992) art or documentary, or both? Well neither really; Farocki’s works assemble early evidence of the instrumentalizing and inverting of surveillance technology; of citizens surveilling the powers that be. In the case of this piece, it is footage of the 1989 Romanian revolution that saw the collapse of Nicolae Ceaus¸escu’s regime. Farocki’s film is a ‘narrative-compilation’ comprised of videos made by activists or onlookers, combined with documentation from state television (which quickly sided with the uprising). And it is compelling. Once in the hands of activists, video cameras became the conduit between where news was made and the world beyond. At first the handheld camera spread news rather than made it, but Farocki, and not a few others, saw the camcorder as the political means for ushering in the era where spreading the news would become the news. And time has proved the artist right: consider only the recent mobile phone video that recorded the macabre humiliation of Saddam Hussein’s final moments; those two minutes and 36 seconds that impossibly turned despot into martyr.’ — Frieze




As You See (1986)
‘A film about rebellion and newspapers as well as about crossroads where cities are founded, about hand-cranked machine guns and recoil actuated machine guns, about motorway trajectories, road work equipment and animal vivisection, battlefields from a bird’s or a worm’s eye view … ‘ — boar.be

the entire film (German/Spanish subs


Between Two Wars (1978)
‘A film about the time of the blast furnances – 1917-1933 – about the development of an industry, about a perfect machinery which had to run itself to the point of its own destruction. Between Two Wars is also a film about the strains of filmmaking and a reflection on craft and creation. Farocki distances himself radically from the thoughtless sloppiness of average television work. The clarity and the precise ordering of his black and white images, which do not illustrate thoughts but are themselves thoughts, are reminiscent of the late Godard. The poverty of this film – its production took six years – is at the same time its strength.’ — Hans C. Blumenberg



The Words of the Chairman (1969)
The Words of the Chairman can be usefully situated within the moment of European fascination with the implications of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, then entering its most intensive phase within China. In his fourth short film Harun Farocki, still a student at the German Film and Television Academy is seen neatly tearing pages from The Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, then widely known as The Little Red Book. The Words of the Chairman is a cine-pamphlet that stages a Maoist formula typical of the era: words can become weapons; but these weapons, in turn are made of words. Looking back on this era, Farocki wrote, “I was on a ship – this sounds like a novel: I had just embarked for Venezuela on June 2, 1967 as the Shah of Iran was arriving in West Berlin. There were protests, a student was shot, and a new form of opposition movement came into existence. The idea for this film came to me while I was still aboard the ship. The film is structured like a commercial. The film takes a metaphor literally: words can become weapons. However, it also shows that these weapons are made of paper. The weapon spoiled everything for the Shah and his wife, they are wearing paper bags on their heads with faces drawn on them – the kind of bags worn by Iranian students during demonstrations to hide their identity from the Savak, the Iranian Secret Service. When I showed this film to the audiences in the late Sixties, it was highly praised. I think people understood then that over obviousness is also a form of irony. This capacity was lost a few years later. I think it’s coming back today.”‘ — ICO Independent Cinema



Inextinguishable Fire (1969)
‘From the filmmaker’s introductory reading of the transcripted testimony by Vietnamese napalm victim, Thai Bihn Dahn before the Vietnam War Crimes Tribunal in Stockholm for crimes committed by the U.S. government against his village in 1966, followed by his act of self-mutilation in order to reinforce the idea of the degree of severity of inflicted napalm burns, Farocki explores this interrelation between industrial advancement through science production and technological warfare. Exploring the manufacturer of Napalm-B, Dow Chemical’s complex role as innovators of complex chemicals that have led to the development of advanced manufacturing materials (and beneficial consumer goods and agricultural products), the film explores the innate dissociation – often through intellectual specialization and what Farocki describes as the “intensified division of labor” – between the scientific products developed by these innovators and the application of the new technology (specifically, the development of Napalm-B from a polystyrene-based adhesive used on shoes that results in improved skin adhesion so that the chemical cannot be washed away after contact, ensuring that the victim will burn to death): the idea of weapons of mass destruction as industrial byproducts of consumer goods. What emerges is a provocative industrial paradigm in which the accountability for the production of these inhumane weapons becomes abstract and diluted to the point where the sense of ownership and personal responsibility for their development (and proliferation) no longer exist: a sanitization and dehumanization of warfare in which the method of engagement is defined, not on the battlefield, but within the impersonal, sterile walls of consumer-driven, public industry, manufacturing laboratories.’ — Strictly Film School

the entire film




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Indeed. Oh, I see re: Beckett. Clearly they haven’t his novels, for instance. ** Steve Erickson, Yes, no surprise whatsoever about the lack of response from Google. Good luck. You might really need it. Haven’t heard the next Lotic, no. Naturally I will. I’ll find it. And the Elucid! And, eventually — no turntable here either — the Hammer. Thanks for the tipping. ** James Nulick, Hi, James! Is that so? Dude, novel work is such a good excuse that it’s not even an excuse. Not paid yet, but the latest promise is that I’ll be paid by Monday. It had better fucking happen because I can’t pay my rent if it doesn’t. Keep on keeping on in that exact way. ** Sypha, Well, given that you were a big Sotos fan at one point, something has definitely changed, although I don’t if it’s oldness-related. I can’t imagine you’ll have much problem unloading that copy. ** Marilyn Roxie, Hi. Thank you on both fronts. I sure do wish I could be there for ‘Just Experimenting: Playing the Sexual Edge of Film’, which sounds amazing. Yes, yes, Vimeo links please! Thank, pal. ** Nik, You plucked out my two favorite sentences in the post. Cool. Thanks a lot for laying out your relationship to short stories. You sound excited, and it’s infectious. Joy Williams is a master of the short story, to name one, if you haven’t read her. I think the head vs. wall thing is part of the deal and, actually, pretty productive. It’s growth through a veneer of frustration, even if it just feels frustrating in the moment. No, Zac and I are writing the series, but Gisele is directing it, so I think it’ll be like her work but filmic. I don’t suspect her directorial vision will resemble Zac’s and mine much at all, although who knows since it’s her first outing in the medium, and Zac and I will be on set for the shooting to advise. ARTE is a French/German channel oriented towards more artful, brainy programming. Series, documentaries, talk shows, films, etc. They’ve started a new venture to produce/show limited series by filmmakers, theater directors, and so on. Bruno Dumont and Olivier Assayas have directed short TV series for them recently, and our show is part of that outreach by them. ARTE also produces feature films. If you look at the credits of some of the more artful French and other films, you’ll frequently see ARTE listed among the films’ benefactors. So sorry about the blog bug. I’ve hit a bit of a wall re: getting it fixed, but I’m not giving up. ** Jamie, Ahoy to you, J-ster! Our producer is a walking-talking disaster. She did finally and very begrudgingly send off the Intention Note to ARTE yesterday, so now, finally, we await the response from our actual bosses. Very glad the slave post inspired you to parse it. PGL will definitely show in the UK, but I don’t know how or when yet. The powers that be are still looking for festivals there to accept it. I hope your stomach thing was a fluke, but giggliness is pretty precious: silver lining? Yesterday was mostly just about getting the final stuff off to ARTE. Today might be fun, we’ll see. Ha ha, what a day you wished me! May yours assassinate Trump and Pence. Barrel of monkeys (and money) love, Dennis ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. I think that ‘peculiarly vile’ comment spoke for all of us. Lift off!!! Amazing, man! Yeah, I don;t even follow football but the Zidane thing is def. weird. I suppose we’ll know why soon enough? ** Misanthrope, It’s always nice when Masters who don’t just grunt and/or mutter ‘hot’ leave comments. ‘Them’ doesn’t have a set apart from a mattress and a dead animal, so, unless the dead animal gives us trouble, and they have in the past, it should be okay. Nah, less than zero interest in the Bowie show. I don’t want to look at his clothes and stuff. He’s cool, but I don’t care. ** JM, Hi. Thank you a lot, man! That’s really great to hear about ZCR. Thank you! Interesting about the relationship to ‘Period’ era George. Huh. I’ll give that a think. Hemingway is or can be a pretty great composer of clear, taut sentences, I’ll give him that. I mean the writer Hemingway, but the escort Hemingway’s sentences aren’t bad either. The TV script is, as of yesterday, finally in the hands of ARTE, so we will find out what is initially what in a week or three, I guess. PGL is gradually making its way into the world at the frustratingly gradual pace that films’ births are stuck with, but it all goes pretty great. 150 minutes is a lot of uninterrupted minutes. In a good way. In theory at least. Opens in two weeks? Seem feasible? Well, I guess it does. I like TV, I’m just not a phase where I can handle its voluminous input. Good reading there. Not that I’ve read ‘War and Peace’, but when something becomes a signifier of ‘greatness’ to that degree, there’s gotta be big stuff in there. I don’t know that Lorde song. I’ll go listen to it. I know the Sonic Youth song ‘Green light’. It kind of fits with our film, now that I think about it. ‘The Merchant of Venice’?! Whoa. Man, you are versatility as a boy. ** Right. I decided to restore and slightly expand this post about the work of Harun Farocki, and I hope that by this time tomorrow it will have struck you as a wise decision. See you then.


  1. lots of words from me yesterday and you tonight but i’m worn out by multiple things so today ill leave it at this.


  2. Hello, Dennis! Thanks for the Farocki day. So you’re coming to nyc soon after that festival? Hope to catch up with you a bit. I’ll be in Boston for a week(?) in late June, otherwise just working a lot in Coney Island area . (did you forget i live in that neighborhood?). Good luck with the show of PGL, and let us know your nyc visit precisely. Have a nice weekend. Oh, thanks so much for the gif fiction. I read a first ch — soon more.

  3. Chris Corhane

    June 1, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    ok, first things first, congrats on PGL and a big shout out to Zac’s Coral Reef. I haven’t had time to spend with it in detail, more later on that. THEM cast is incredible, loving them, yet they seem to get it, by and by we are it’s coming along and it’s only the second week and we haven’t had everyone in the same room yet. I think you’ll like them. Ish is awesome. I’m looking forward to see how it progresses. Have a great weekend xoxoxox beyond xoxox

  4. I’m listening to the brand-new Ghost album, PREQUELLE. Their music has never exactly been raw, but this is by far the slickest thing they’ve ever done. The second single, “Dance Macabre,” even reminds me of Journey. It sounds like they want to be huge rock stars in the wake of the success of MELIORA and “Square Hammer,” but while their songwriting ability remains pretty strong, this dives headlong into ’70s AOR nostalgia (well beyond the Blue Oyster Cult comparisons that have long dogged them.) They also have realized there’s only so far they can push the Satanic schtick and have largely dropped it in favor of a concept album set during the Black Plague in the Middle Ages. I like about two thirds of the songs here quite a bit, but the arrangements and production don’t suit them. I’m not even sure that the increasing slickness will make the band any more popular than they would’ve been had they made another album that sounded like “Cirice” (which was their breakthrough on US rock radio) and “From the Pinnacle to the Pit.” “Rats” is still one of my favorite singles of 2018, but this is rather disappointing.

    Anthology is now in the middle of an extended Harocki retro; rather than showing all his films in a week or two, they are doing one program every Sunday for several months.

    Here’s my monthly update of my favorite music of 2018: https://steeveecom.wordpress.com/music-favorites-from-2018/

  5. Nice to see a Farocki Day — a filmmaker of great interest first championed by the Straubs

  6. Dennis, well, now that you mention it, there were a lot of reasons why I stopped reading Sotos, but I think the big one was I was really uncomfortable with the way in which he would sometimes write about graphically killing animals (or fantasizing about killing animals) and what have you. Funny, I could deal with the serial killer stuff, the rape fantasies, the racism, the unhygienic cruising, and so on and so forth, but that was the deal breaker. Having said that, there are days I regret giving away my Sotos collection, as some of the items I had were quite rare and I could probably have made a small fortune selling them on eBay, ha ha. I think one day I might at least try to re-buy the Creation trilogy of Index/Lazy/Tick, because I really liked the designs of those books (also, they’re very much a part of that era of Whitehouse’s music).

    • I don’t exactly have “triggers” and I’ve actually come to realize I have a greater tolerance for violent movies than most people (context matters more than the level of gore as far as whether they bother me), but there are 2 things I really don’t want to see: eyeball gouging and animal slaughter. At least the former is simulated unless you’re watching ISIS snuff films or whatever. It’s good to wear glasses so I can take them off when those images pop up.

  7. Hi!

    First and foremost, a huge congratulations here too, for your new GIF piece!! I can FINALLY give it my undivided attention tomorrow and I can’t wait! (How was the cold sesame noodles feast?)

    Yaay! It’s almost unbelievable that your producer sent the script of the episodes on to ARTE! I do hope she decided to do the same with the – quite unnecessarily revised, I presume – ‘Intention Note’. Did she? Do you have any idea how long it might take to hear back from ARTE?

    I found out that it is possible to write at work – in a very non-regulated, unplanned, raw sort of way. I mean, I can’t bury myself in the process of writing, it’s more like… turning on a faucet and letting everything pour out, then turning it off suddenly, when a customer comes in or one of my colleagues starts talking to me, and then, when I get home and get to be alone, I can pick out the fragments that seem to be of any worth of further thought/work. It’s actually quite an interesting experience. What also happened this week is that I started reading Fight Club (by Chuck Palahniuk). I, of course, saw the movie for a few times but for some reason, I’ve never read the book. As we have it in the shop, though, I decided to change this and I expected something entertaining, even good, but not like this. I’m completely blown away by this writing, the dynamics and rhythm of it, I feel like every single word is needed and at its exact place. You know, there are those books that you read and you think “I wish I wrote this”. (Or at least I have this sometimes.) Well, this turned out to be one of those books for me.

    How was your week? What happened? Could you work some on your new film with Zac? Have a wonderful weekend, Dennis! I’ll be back on Monday!!

  8. hi dennis

    tiny Q

    where do you keep up to date with the arts ? i try to think im hip but your years ahead, is it online or magazine’s, its online, no ?, yes ! ive cracked it, but where ?

    i posted up a piece for you, it’s corny but i thought fuck it, nail it to a post

    love you dennis, alex,x

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