A certain genre : virtual Realities

Serious games [1, 2, 3, 4]

Ernste Spiele [1, 2, 3, 4]

Harun Farocki

United States

A series of four movies exploring the multiple utilisations of virtual realities and of video games by the American army in the recruiting, combat training, and the managing of PTSD of the soldiers.

Serious Games I : Watson is down (2010, 8 min)

In the autumn of 2009, we filmed a drill at the Marine Corps Base 29 Palms in California. Four Marines sitting in a class represented the crew of a tank. They had laptops in front of them on which they steered their own vehicle and watched others in the unit being driven through a ComputerAnimation-Landscape. (...) During the exercise, the instructor places explosive devices and sets insurgents out in the area. A sniper shot the tank gunner, which we documented with the camera. When the tank drives over the fallow, it kicks up a dust tail. Even with all this attention to detail, death in the computer game is still something different than the real one. 
(Harun Farocki)


Serious Games II : Three dead (2010, 8 min)

Again, in 29 Palms, we embarked on an exercise with around 300 extras who represented both the Afghan and Iraqi population. A few dozen Marines were on guard and went out on patrol. The town where the maneuver was carried out was on a slight rising in the desert and its buildings were made from containers. It looked as though we had modeled reality on a computer animation.
(Harun Farocki)


Serious Games III : Immersion (2009, 20 min)

Filming for Immersion took place at Fort Louis, near Seattle, during a demonstration for therapists treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers.(...) The therapy consists of subjecting traumatized soldiers to the conditions of war once again, in a virtual reality. It is a kind of going back to the beginning – not only literally to the beginning of the military experience, starting with the recruiting game, but also back to the beginnings of a technology that was initially developed by the military, was subsequently taken over by game designers, and is now being sold back to the same military apparatus from which it originated (...) At the same time, Immersion is also a return to the role-play with which, for Farocki, it had all begun – the role play that has never been absent from his work.
(Pieter van Bogaert, How to Live in a Game.)


Serious Games IV : A Sun without Shadow (2010, 8 min)

This chapter considers the fact that the pictures with which preparations were made for war are so very similar to the pictures with which war was evaluated afterward. But there is a difference: The program for commemorating traumatic experiences is somewhat cheaper. Nothing and no-one casts a shadow here.
(Harun Farocki)

Ingo Kratisch
Matthias Rajmann
Harun Farocki
Harun Farocki Filmproduktion

Films in the Retrospective