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Eye/Machine I, II and III

Harun Farocki utilizes a vast collection of image sequences from laboratories, archives and production facilities to explore modern weapons technology. This trilogy examines "intelligent" image processing techniques such as electronic surveillance, mapping and object recognition, in order to take a closer look at the relationship between man, machine, and modern warfare.

"Mr. Farocki’s focus on techniques of simulation invites skepticism about the representation of reality in general. His art is a meditation on the degree to which our world, what we take for reality, is formed by recording and image-making machinery.  We are always “at a distance,” in peace as well as in war. Representational technology becomes an experience in and of itself, which at least partly eclipses what it purports to reveal. Similarly, our minds organize incoming information into images and narratives that may or may not be true to the facts. The nonexistent weapons of mass destruction that ostensibly led to the United States’ invasion of Iraq are a case in point."

--Ken Johnson, Unfiltered Images, Turning Perceptions Upside Down, New York Times, August 26th 2011

# Title Artists Run Time Year Country
1 Eye/Machine I Harun Farocki 00:25:00 2001 Germany
2 Eye/Machine II Harun Farocki 00:15:49 2002 Germany
3 Eye/Machine III Harun Farocki 00:25:00 2003 Germany

Eye/Machine I

Harun Farocki
2001 | 00:25:00 | Germany | English | Color | Mono | |


The film centers on the images of the Gulf War, which caused worldwide outrage in 1991. In the shots taken from projectiles homing in on their targets, bomb and reporter were identical, according to a theory put forward by the philosopher Klaus Theweleit. At the same time it was impossible to distinguish between the photographed and the (computer) simulated images. The loss of the 'genuine picture' means the eye no longer has a role as historical witness. It has been said that what was brought into play in the Gulf War was not new weaponry, but rather a new policy on images. In this way the basis for electronic warfare was created. Today, kilo tonnage and penetration are less important than the so-called C3I cycle, which has come to encircle our world. C3I refers to Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence--and means global and tactical early warning systems, area surveillance through seismic, acoustic and radar sensors, radio direction sounding, monitoring opponents' communications, as well as the use of jamming to suppress all these techniques. Harun Farocki explores the question of how military image technologies find their way into civilian life.

This title is also available on Eye/Machine I, II, and III.

Eye/Machine II

Harun Farocki
2002 | 00:15:49 | Germany | English | B&W and Color | Mono | |


"How can the distinction between "man" and "machine" still be made given today's technology? In modern weapons technology the categories are on the move: intelligence is no longer limited to humans. In Eye/Machine II, Farocki has brought together visual material from both military and civilian sectors, showing machines operating intelligently and what it is they see when working on the basis of image processing programs. The traditional man-machine distinction becomes reduced to "eye/machine", where cameras are implanted into the machines as eyes.

As a result of the Gulf War, the technology of warfare came to provide an innovative impulse, which boosted the development of civilian production. Farocki shows us computer simulated images looking like something out of science-fiction films: rockets steer towards islands set in a shining sea; apartment blocks are blown up; fighter aircraft fire at one another with rockets and defend themselves with virtual flares… These computer battlefields--will they suffice or shall we need further rationalization drives for new wars? Eye/Machine II is the continuation of a wider examination of the same subject: intelligent machines and intelligent weapons.

As an installation, the work is presented on two monitors or as a double projection. In this, the single-channel version, the two image tracks are shown simultaneously on one screen.”

--Antje Ehmann

This title is also available on Eye/Machine I, II, and III.

Eye/Machine III

Harun Farocki
2003 | 00:25:00 | Germany | English | Color | Mono | |


“The third part of the Eye/Machine cycle structures the material around the concept of the operational image. These are images which do not portray a process, but are themselves part of a process. As early as the Eighties, cruise missiles used a stored image of a real landscape, then took an actual image during flight; the software compared the two images, resulting in a comparison between idea and reality, a confrontation between pure war and the impurity of the actual. This confrontation is also a montage, and montage is always about similarity and difference. Many operational images show colored guidance lines, intended to portray the process of recognition. The lines tell us emphatically what is all-important in these images, and just as emphatically what is of no importance at all. Superfluous reality is denied--a constant denial provoking opposition.”

--Harun Farocki

This title is also available on Radical Closure and Eye/Machine I, II and III.