Techniques of the observer: Hito Steyerl and Laura Poitras in conversation

via “TECHNOLOGY HAS TAKEN US by surprise, and the regions that it has opened up are glaringly empty,” Siegfried Kracauer once wrote. The great German film theorist was not merely lamenting the depletion or alienation of life in a mechanized world; he was also expressing elation, anticipation, about the possibilities opened up by technology and in particular by film—a space for play, for discovering extraordinary experiences and visions. The films and videos of LAURA POITRAS and HITO STEYERL conjure a similar sense of exhilaration, exploring as they do wholly new techniques, devices, and immense fields of information. And yet the secrets they uncover and the stories they investigate are often terrifying—whether they are breaking Edward Snowden’s revelations of the US government’s vast, clandestine surveillance of its own citizens or teaching us how to hide from drone strikes in a half- but also deadly serious way. Artforum invited Poitras, whose CITIZENFOUR won this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and Steyerl, whose solo exhibition at Artists Space in New York is currently on view, to meet and exchange thoughts about filmmaking, perception, disclosure, encryption, and the promise and peril of the image.

read the full conversation here

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