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Image OperationsVisual media and political conflict$
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Jens Eder and Charlotte Klonk

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781526107213

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526107213.001.0001

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Working images: Harun Farocki and the operational image

Working images: Harun Farocki and the operational image

(p.49) 3 Working images: Harun Farocki and the operational image
Image Operations

Volker Pantenburg

Manchester University Press

This chapter traces the origins and implications of the ‘operational image’, as it has come to be explored in Harun Farocki’s texts and installations since 2000. Defined in Eye/Machine I (2000) as ‘Images without a social goal, not for edification, not for reflection,’ operational images pervade both the military and non-military realm of today’s life. To contextualise this type of image, three concepts are revisited that have explicitly informed Farocki’s understanding: Roland Barthes’ idea of ‘operational language’, Vilém Flusser’s ‘technical image’, and the project of a computer aided ‘Bildwissenschaft’ based on algorithmic image retrieval. After a closer analysis of some of the counter-operational strategies Farocki employs, the article suggests to distinguish three levels of operationality and to understand Farocki’s project as a film maker, video artist and thinker as a continuous examination of the operational potential of images.

Keywords:   Operational images, Harun Farocki, Military use of images, Montage, Counter-operationality, Computation, Simulation

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