Artist Lecture: Harun Farocki speaks on his work
October 28, 2010
Farocki will discuss his gallery installation work, including two recent pieces on view at the Carpenter Center: Immersion (2009), filmed at Fort Louis military installation in Seattle, WA, and the North American premiere of the single-channel video Watson is Down (2010), filmed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center known as 29 Palms in California.
The pieces explore the use of computer animation and video game technology to train soldiers by simulating combat situations in realistic settings based on actual landscape coordinates and satellite data, as well as acting as a tool for therapeutic treatment by allowing soldiers to re-enact previous combat trauma by virtually reliving the events.
Harun Farocki on Watson is Down: In the autumn of 2009 we filmed a drill at the Marine Corps base 29 Psalms in California. Four Marines sat in a row, representing the crew of a tank. They had laptops in front of them on which they steered their own vehicle and watched others in their unit driving through a Computer-Animation-Landscape. The simulated Afghanistan terrain originates from actual geographical data. The street in the computer landscape runs exactly as it does in reality in Afghanistan; the same holds for every tree, the vegetation on the ground, and the mountain ranges. During the exercise, the instructor would place explosive devices and set insurgents out in the area. A sniper shot the tank gunner, which we documented with the camera. When the tank drives over the fallow ground, it kicks up a dust tail. The more vegetation there is, the less dust. On the asphalt street, no dust. Even with all this attention to detail, death in the computer game is something different than death in reality.
Pieter van Bogaert on Immersion: Eighteen years after the first Gulf War, computer-generated game technology is not only employed on the battlefield, but also used for recruiting, training and therapy for battle-scarred soldiers. It is the beginning, the middle and the end of the violence of war. Never has war been so transparent, so tangible, so efficient or so virtual. Filming for Immersion took place at Fort Louis, near Seattle, during a demonstration for therapists treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers. The event was organized by the designers of the technology now being used in Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET).
Both videos are on view in the exhibition The Image in Question: War - Media - Art, curated by Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki, on view at the Carpenter Center for the visual arts from October 21 through December 23, 2010.