Alba GimenezUniversity of South Wales

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Distance and Implication
Reframing Experience in Harun Farocki’s Eye/Machine Series
in Film Studies
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Harun Farocki’s Eye/Machine (2003) is a video installation which analyses how what Farocki calls ‘the operational image’ reconfigures our visual regimes. The ‘operational image’ allows machines to operate ever more autonomously and to perform their tasks with no need for human supervision. Farocki links the birth of such operational images to the missiles with integrated cameras used during the Gulf War (1991) and therefore to military purposes. Eye/Machine poses a paradox: operational images generate a process of abstraction in which the image depicted (in the case of the war, the battlefield) gets detached from its indexical dimension, appearing as abstract and unreal. However, such detachment can be reversed when these images are recontextualised and reframed within an exhibition space, since that places them within a human experiential framework. Images, and our perception of them, are part of what Judith Butler calls the ‘extended materiality of war’. Thus, war is not only fought in the battlefield, but also at the level of the senses.

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