Sunday, December 14, 2014

Harun Farocki - Serious games

Harun Farockis (1944-2014) four-part series ERNSTE SPIELE (SERIOUS GAMES) shows how american soldiers are trained for war with videogames, especially created to simulate their military services during war in Afghanistan and Iraq. In advance, they sit in a classroom like situation, everybody in front of his screen, and drive through the desert in expectation of difficulties like bombs or iraqis or all together to solve the upcoming problem whilest permanently communicating to each other. The animated pictures have the quality of the contemporary gaming industry (Call of duty). The group makes some mistakes and suddenly "Watson is down". The reaction is quite indifferent, the tension disappears, they stay cool and will start the next try to complete their missoin. On another screen we see a soldier who came home from war, traumatised, sitting with virtual glasses with similar videogames to recapitulate the situations that he can´t get rid of. A therapist forces him to go as far as possible. Allthough the computer animations are much worse than the ones to prepare for war (they are less detailed and there are no shadows in the desert), the soldier is suffering and deeply experiencing the situation.
In the end of the session the camera shows an applauding audience, the whole situation was a marketing arrangement for videogame therapy. 
The installation gives the impression of a circle which has been closed. The humans are embedded in techniques, their experiences beeing part of the warproduction. In a shocking and morally reprehensible way the business of killing and playing are combined. Emotions are sucked up by the routine games and in the end spit out again. Questions like "what is real","what is virtual reality", "who creates our reality" and "who is responsible for the actions in reality/composed reality" evoke. 
Amongst other works of Harun Farocki debating the topic of the power of moving imgages and terror the series is shown in Hamburger Bahnhof till the 18th of january. In memoriam and deep respect for Harun Farocki, who dissected with his camera like no one else.

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