The anecdote fell in the midst of the German filmmaker and theorist's 2009 interview with journalists
"Whether I work with my own material or with found footage," he said, "I need to become acquainted with it ... I can either accept the material or not. But that is not so much about the material of the picture carrier [media] but, more importantly, that the sequences and elements of the film themselves are to be considered as 'material,' and not as something finished."
Farocki passed away Wednesday at the age of 70, his work unfinished.
In a salute to his colleague Thursday,
"In his teaching and his essays, in journals and books and exhibitions conceived and produced with [his life partner]
Farocki was born in German-occupied Czechoslovakia in 1944 to an Indian father and a German mother. He enrolled at the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin,
He made his first film that year and over the ensuing decades developed a documentary style deeply critical of the media and the ways in which images have shaped contemporary life and ideology.
Farocki's best-known early work, "The Inextinguishable Fire" (1969), takes up the U.S. military's use of napalm in the Vietnam War. As the filmmaker finishes reciting from a report on the effects of napalm on its victims, the camera finds him just as he puts out a cigarette on his arm -- explaining, as he does, that napalm burns at seven times this temperature.
Farocki served as editor of
By the mid-1980s Farocki was developing the essayistic film language that was to prove so influential to younger generations of politically and critically minded filmmakers in
One influential work, "How to Live in the
Farocki was a fixture at the
" Harun Farocki was one of
Farocki's critical interests drew him toward contemporary art circles after 2000 and he has mounted solo shows at a number of international institutions, including Berlin's Hamburger Bahnhof,
As an installation artist, he was fond of deploying multiple screens to suggest something of the complex and intricate relationships between rhetoric and visual footage.
During Documenta 12, in 2007 -- the twice-a-decade art extravaganza held in the German town of Kassel -- he unveiled "Deep Play," an installation which broke down footage from the German-hosted FIFA 2006 World Cup across 12 monitors.
His "Serious Games" (2009) takes up the subject of the U.S. military's use of videogame-style imaging in combat-training simulators.
One of Farocki's final film credits was his work on the screenplay of "Barbara" (2012) -- a drama set in 1980s
Yet his thoughts on contemporary culture's preoccupation with the image foraged far beyond cinema.
"During the last 10 years," he told Stahl and Waszynski in 2009, "and through the digitization process, and the fact that you can feed your computer with images ... new types of images have appeared.
"Like thermomechanical images of a certain region -- in which you can find certain hints that can lead you to certain assumptions ... These new types of images are something visual, but they're entirely different from our general visual culture.
"Our visual culture is based on the production of images for education or entertainment. These new types of images are not meant to be looked at but are rather technical tools ...
"All of a sudden science and technology are interested in these new types of images that we deal with, something that was completely separated during the last hundred years.
"In the early era of photography and film this was different, of course. Back then, photography and film still had a part in scientific research. But soon they became illustrative material and entertainment material.
"So I think that we can speak of a 'rematerialization' nowadays. I think that the image has reclaimed a serious working day. It's not just a weekend pleasure," he laughed, "rather like a drayman's horse."
(c)2014 The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Visit The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon) at www.dailystar.com.lb/
Distributed by MCT Information Services