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Speaker: Laura Lux (King's College London)

In the film NICHTlöschbares Feuer (1968/69), the German essay filmmaker Harun Farocki extinguishes a cigarette on his arm to demonstrate the torturous effects of Napalm on the victims of the Vietnam war. This now seminal moment has been widely discussed in regard to the politics and ethics of representation and the role of the (film) author in 1968 film activism. Yet, in 1969, Farocki described the film above all as a culmination of his collaboration with radical film collectives in the student movement seeking to create a counter-public sphere against mainstream media. For him, the theme of the film was the 'Technologiediskussion': a political debate in 1968 criticising the complicity of the techno-sciences in imperialist warfare and capitalist industries and the absence of ethical debate in scientific, technological research and innovation.

This lecture will re-visit this iconic moment in West German political film as a transgressive gesture against the world of science and technology integrated within a critique of the representation and dissemination of Vietnam war images in TV media. It will explore how Farocki attends to the documentary image as a scientific form of vision and exposes the ideology behind factual representation on TV. Considering Farocki’s influence on debates around representation in Brechtian film practices, it will explore how his plea for a more pluralistic media landscape in 1968 stays relevant in light of the rise in documentary activism today.

This lecture is being held online via the Zoom platform. Attendance is free, but advance online registration is essential. Booking closes on 23 May.