An introduction to the screening “War at a Distance” and “Serious Games” by Kristin Gissberg
What role do images have in the production, documentation, and understanding of war? How have we become accustomed to war images, and indeed images of war, and to what extent does this familiarity shape our perceptions, including the emotional landscape of warfare’s preparation, reporting, and debriefing?
What is the technology of war today, and from which trajectory has this emerged? In this time of increasingly sophisticated technological iterations, have we lost sight of the thread linking production and destruction? If so, to what extent has the prevalence of images sculpted our myopia, saturated our framing of otherness, influenced our understanding of what’s real and what’s virtual?
Harun Farocki’s investigative politics of images invites us to raise such questions, to sit with them, as it were, via cinematic presentation. Highlighting selections of two of his films – War at a Distance and Serious Games – The Night of Philosophy’s tribute to Farocki’s iconic examination of images of warfare aims to reopen precisely these questions.
Unfolding the link between warfare and images, we will follow Farocki from War at a Distance, beginning with The Gulf War – a war in which, for the first time, as the film claims, warfare and war reporting became one. Transitioning to clips from each of the four installments constituting Serious Games, our discussion will touch upon the ambiguity of image, the stripping away of affectivity in image creation, and the re-production of memory in image production.